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PARIS (Reuters) - France's ready-to-wear spring and summer shows began in earnest on Monday with Christian Dior's collection, as the world of fashion flew in the face of an increasingly ominous world environment.
Dior's show at the Tuileries gardens marked the start of the main part of the industry showpiece after the annual spring-summer shows began at the weekend with collections from a clutch of younger designers.
"Tribal chic. Studded. Belted. Degrade," read the notes to Dior designer John Galliano's show in which he sent a parade of teenaged models in diaphanous party dresses stalking down the catwalk to a pulsing rock beat.
"It's very young, transparent, light and quite sober," actress Marisa Berenson told Reuters Television after the show. "There were some wonderful mixtures of colors as he always does but I liked the lightness and the transparency."
Around 100 designers will be showing collections over the coming week, sending models, stylists, reporters and fashionistas racing around the French capital, seemingly oblivious to turbulence menacing the global economy.
As bank regulators and government leaders in Washington and Europe struggle to control a global financial crisis that has brought low some of the biggest names in banking and threatens the global economy, the industry was looking on the bright side.
"There are countries where there is growth," Sidney Toledano, head of Dior Couture, told Reuters. "We have a strategy of building up in emerging countries and reinforcement in mature markets," he said.
Outside the Dior show, jostling cameramen and celebrities striking artful poses in the autumn sunshine sounded a traditional fashion note as reporters scrapped it out for insights from the stars.
"It's very fluid, very Lolita, very sexy, very modern," actress Eva Green, a former Bond girl and face of Dior told journalists.
Economic crisis may cut into the conspicuous luxury on display just a stonesthrow away from where fashion-lover Marie Antoinette was beheaded in 1793 but, for the moment, the fashion world was maintaining a brave face.
"I think there will always be people looking for beautiful, luxurious things to brighten up their days and I know I look to fashion as a form of escape," burlesque artiste Dita von Teese told Reuters. "Maybe other people do too."
Additional reporting by Mathilde Gardin; Editing by Louise Ireland