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striking

It was playtime in Paris this week for fashion designers at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week where they showcased some of their most flamboyant designs for spring.

It wasn't for the ordinary, as one fashion commentator said, yet that's the point of these haute couture collections -- which are to designers what a 'director's cut' movie is to filmmakers -- they get to keep in the flights of fashion fantasy they normally have to tether and their imaginations have no bounds.

What difference these haute couture collections do make to the ordinary is that they are quickly copied, adapted, and minimised to suit the needs of the high-street woman who wants something to flatter and yet is part of a top designer's vision.

Haute couture, by definition, means a dress is exclusive and only affordable to the very wealthy, yet such is its influence you can expect to see a lot of Gothic styles in shops soon because that's what Chanel have been showcasing this week.

French designer Stephane Rolland's decision to have a sheer panel in a floor-length gown which exposes a woman's thighs is striking on the catwalk; it'll be interesting to see how it translates into everyday fashion.

Belgian designer Martin Margiela's choice of covering his models' faces with masks and turning them into walking mannequins is eye-catching though unlikely to be fashion gold and embraced by the average woman.

Italian designer Giambattista Valli's gold/mustard bare-shoulder ballerina-length dress is darling and has high street success written all over it.

Versace's slit-to-the-thigh pink dress will rock in the hot spots of Marbella. While Dior's glamorous off-white and black-stripe dress looks ready to go to the Academy Awards.

Whatever you think of Valentino's design or Jean Paul Gaultier's multi-patterned fishtail skirt, chances are you can't afford them. But, keep your eyes out because versions will turn up in stores any day now...