The Best of the Spring 2012 Couture Shows

From "New Look" inspired ensembles at Christian Dior to pastel gowns at Elie Saab, the best from the Paris couture shows.

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A look from Giambattista Valli's spring 2012 couture collection.
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Christian Dior: The house of Christian Dior is still without a permanent creative director since John Galliano was fired almost a year ago. The label chose to show its most recent couture collection in its intimate Avenue Montaigne salon.
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Christian Dior: Back to basics, the collection focused on trademarks of Christian Dior's heritage, including riffs on the Dior-created "New Look."
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Christian Dior: There was a surprising amount of daywear in the collection, including this look. Cameron Diaz added star power to the front row (the actress was in Paris shooting a couture story for InStyle).
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Armani Privé: Giorgio Armani played with the color green and reptile influences for his most recent couture collection. Models walked on a black and white checkered floor in the Grand Palais.
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Armani Privé: Actress Jessica Chastain found out that she was nominated for an Oscar for her role in The Help while sitting front row. She told reporters she particularly liked two green gowns in the show, making them possible Oscar contenders.
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Armani Privé: Most of the collection was topped off with whimsical spiral hats.
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Chanel: Never one to shy away from spectacle, Karl Lagerfeld had the exact replica of an A380 plane erected inside the Grand Palais to show Chanel's Spring 2012 Haute Couture collection. Flight attendants served mango juice and champagne to show guests that included Elizabeth Olsen and Diane Kruger.
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Chanel: Lagerfeld jokingly referred to the collection as his blue period. The designer incorporated over 150 shades of blue into the collection.
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Chanel: Couture and major bead work and embroidery go hand in hand. Chanel acquired Lesage in 2002, the company responsible for its awe-inspiring embroidery, which is evident on this evening look.
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Jean Paul Gaultier: Designer Jean Paul Gaultier was inspired by Amy Winehouse's fashion legacy this season. The show had a late start because it was held in order for Catherine Denueve to take her front row perch.
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Jean Paul Gaultier: Barbershop renditions of Winehouse's songs served as a soundtrack for the show. Hair in the show were styled to look like Winehouse's, and some models held cigarettes mimicking the late singer.
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Jean Paul Gaultier: A mix of tight corsets, silk nightgowns and structured gowns hit the catwalk.
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Givenchy: Riccardo Tisci chose to show his most recent couture collection for Givenchy via a presentation at the Hôtel d'Évreux. Punk influences, which had been a key part of Givenchy's latest men's collection, carried into the label's couture offerings.
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Givenchy: Tisci cited 1920s and sci-fi movie influences when describing the collection. The designer pushed the limits of couture, pairing wife beater shirts under glittering gowns.
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Givenchy: Almost immediately after the collection was presented, speculation began about the possibility of Rooney Mara wearing something from the collection to the Oscars.
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Alexis Mabille: Alexis Mabille played into ideas of the couture fantasy with this colorful and jubilant couture collection.
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Alexis Mabille: All of the models in the show donned oversize rose toppers, with their faces painted to match their ensembles.
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Elie Saab: Lebanese designer Elie Saab didn't stray from his formula of colorful floating gowns that have made him a favorite of the red carpet set and Middle Eastern royalty.
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Elie Saab: Berenice Bejo, nominated for an Oscar for her role in The Artist, sat front row further highlighting that the couture shows have become a stomping ground for stars to shop for their red carpet looks.
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Elie Saab: Pastels like baby blue and pink were dominant in the collection, a theme carried over from the Spring 2012 ready-to-wear shows.
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Valentino: Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, Valentino's designers, were inspired by young women in the French courts. The show included one ethereal floral gown after the next.
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Valentino: Instead of stilettos, looks from Valentino's couture collection were paired with evening slippers.
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Valentino: Show notes included how many hours each dress took to create. One look took 1000 hours of handwork to complete.
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Giambattista Valli: One of the highlights of the Paris couture shows, Giambattista Valli's most recent couture show included details like embellished lace, sequins and 3-D floral embroidery.
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Giambattista Valli: Billowing chiffon gowns, something of a trademark of Valli, felt graceful and comfortable.
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Giambattista Valli: This was marked Valli's second couture collection. The designer cited Ava Gardner as a reference point for the collection.
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Atelier Versace: Donatella Versace returned from an eight-year hiatus from couture by showing this season. The collection was comprised of gold, glitz and body conscious gowns -- everything you would expect from the label.
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Versace: The designer said she climbed Mount Olympus in Greece for inspiration, which explains the Grecian drama in the collection. Dramatic operatic arias served as show music.
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Versace: The color palette this season includes silvers, oranges and acid green.
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Stephane Rolland: Designer Stephane Rolland has often been cited as a favorite of Lady Gaga, which upped his star power this season.
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Stephane Rolland: The collection showcased Rolland's expert draping skills and was predominantly white, red, and black.
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Stephane Rolland: Yasmin Le Bon modeled the finale dress, which weighed more than 100 pounds. The model was accompanied by two male attendants who helped her navigate the catwalk.
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