COUTURE FASHION WEEK kicked off last night - a four-day-long schedule featuring the fashion world's key names and the most beautiful and expensive creations of the season. While the opulent gowns designed by heavyweights such as Chanel and Dior might be out of most of our budgets, the event does give us the opportunity to see designers at their most creative, extravagant and dramatic. It was Atelier Versace who begun the proceedings last night with a high-octane glamorous collection that embodied the spirit of the label.
Raf Simons will show his second Dior couture collection today, following his critically-acclaimed autumn/winter 2012-13 debut for the house in July last year. Giambattista Valli and Alexis Mabille -two of the more recently inducted couturiers (the Paris Fédération Française de la Couture officially welcomed Valli to the schedule in 2011 and Mabille in December last year) - are up next, with new offerings that will promise plenty of feminine ruffles, exquisite prints and attention to detail.
There aren't many shows that rival Chanel in terms of beauty and showmanship, as Karl Lagerfeld will prove as he unveils his latest couture creations on Tuesday morning. It's also an event that consistently attracts a starry front row and a high-profile line-up, so make sure you click back to see all the pictures.
Stéphane Rolland will follow suit on Tuesday afternoon, as the fashion pack ponders over which famous face he'll recruit to model the bride gown - traditionally a couture show's most extravagant look. Previous appearances have included Yasmin Le Bon. Giorgio Armani will round up the day with undoubtedly another understated beautifully-made collection.
On Wednesday, we can expect red carpet-worthy glittering gowns at Elie Saab; feminine, empowering and playful pieces from Jean Paul Gaultier; and plenty of vintage-inspired delicate lace dresses at Valentino - styles bound to be worn by star fans Keira Knightley and Anne Hathaway over the next few months. Maison Martin Margiela will end the day's line-up with its first couture line, after being granted haute couture appellation in December 2012.Paris -based designer Herve L. Leroux will help bring the proceedings to a final close on Thursday, followed by Canadian-born Rad Hourani that afternoon - the first designer born in his native country to show on the couture in Paris.
An impressive line-up it might be in Paris this week, but the capital will feel the absence of one influential name - Givenchy. The esteemed fashion house announced that it was taking a break from couture in December last year, news that came as a surprise to many in the industry who widely applauded creative director Riccardo Tisci's visionary approach to the category.
But the sartorial show must go on - and there will be plenty to keep us entertained this autumn/winter 2013-14.