PARIS, France — There are only a couple of models in the world who own not just the clothes they wear when they walk the runway but, by their sheer magnetic presence, command the entire show and with it the undivided attention of every spectator in the room.
One such model is Naomi Campbell.
With a panther-like strut the age-defying 43-year-old was sent down the catwalk by Donatella Versace to open Paris haute couture week Sunday night.
There were awed gasps from A-lister Uma Thurman, who sat on the front row, when the British beauty steamed past in a strong-shouldered micro sequin black jacket held together revealingly just by hooks and eyes covered in Swarovski crystals.
The rest of the fall-winter 2013 show was also extreme.
Versace made some provocative statements with front panels of dresses flapping down with white crystals to expose the bustier, as if the model had been interrupted midway through her strip-tease.
One dress embroidered with blue and black sequins was so long it had a 6ft woman hobbling and nearly tripping all the way down the catwalk.
But among all the wanton razzmatazz, the Atelier Versace show did pack some hidden surprises.
Several of the looks were highly wearable and combined Versace's exuberance with some tailoring, like one suit in dark silk cady with a low-waist silver chain belt. One black, figure-hugging cocktail dress had a great feel of the '90s with a turtleneck and a translucent tulle panel.
One thing was abundantly clear: the haute couture season is officially open.
By Thomas Adamson