THE HALLMARK of Christian Lacroix has always been exuberance. Yesterday's show mixed zestful disco dressing with Marie Antoinette panniers and lace furbelows. It veered between the desirable (the midnight blue lame fitted jacket, matching shorts and electric blue bra) to the margins of tawdry glamour (jewels, macrame, applique baroque bustiers clashing with organza ruffled skirts).
Lacroix's haute couture show last July was an outstanding example of what can be achieved by the mix of Parisian atelier skills and a wild imagination.
Surprisingly, he is also good at affordable clothes - his new diffusion line, Bazar (which started yesterday's show), had quirky, perky, saleable pieces.
But when it came to his ready-to-wear collection, it was a case of high jinks at the Folies Bergere. Curvy jackets, cut to a tight sleeve and what Lacroix calls his 'pagoda' shoulder, accentuated the waist with swingy, thigh-length skirts.
The shoes included metallic leather strappy stilettos, wet-look plastic leopard-print booties and stack-heel wedges with cut-away hearts through the soles.
Those with a kindly disposition would describe Lacroix's ready-to-wear customer as an extrovert.
But she is not afraid to look like a trophy wife; all frou-frou, glitzy and sugary spun colours.
This is an overstated femininity, rather witty when it works, but, oh, when it doesn't . . . Christian is a man who clearly does not know when to shout 'arrete'.
Many in the audience (and a couple of models) looked bleary-eyed - on Tuesday night, Rei Kawakubo launched the first perfume by Comme des Garcons at a party held around the swimming pool at the Ritz.
Synchronised swimmers glided from one end of the pool to the other while guests sniffed at their perfume-infused cards as if they were smelling-salts in an attempt to perk up after a long day that included a two-hour wait before the Claude Montana show. This finally started at 10pm and ended after squadrons of Bladerunner models in razor-cut tailoring had stomped on and off the stage.
But Paris has its highlights. The Japanese designers are enjoying a resurgence. Yohji Yamamoto presented a beautiful collection on Tuesday with an evolution of his current winter kimono shapes in floaty bamboo-printed chiffon and vibrant splashes of poppy red.