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Ribbons and bows add flair to Givenchy's autumn collection

A MODEL wearing a long black transparent evening dress with bow from Givenchy's autumn/winter collection. Haute Couture is as much about gift wrapping as it is about razor sharp cutting and snug tailoring and at the Givenchy show yesterday, the decoration rarely overstepped the mark and the clothes were elegant, if a touch conservative - with emphasis on ribbons and bows on dresses, blouses and jackets, writes Tamsin Blanchard.

The sparkle, glitter and embroidery were perfectly judged and never overshadowed the woman underneath. Even the red-sequined chiffon evening dress was not brash; it had the lightness and charm of the ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

At Ungaro the neat bows and finely tuned sequins were replaced by roses and frills. Where Givenchy is reserved and classic, Ungaro is from the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink school of couture. There is more froth, lace and excessive decoration on an Ungaro jacket than in the mille-feuilles and meringues of a Paris patisserie. There were borders of brightly coloured jewels and embroidered birds of paradise. Golden lace was layered over the softest net and edged with crinkle cut frills. We saw purple velvet highwayman jackets, baroque evening dresses, and Victorian jet-encrusted ball gowns. There were even neat tartan blanket skirts for those times when nipping to the corner shop in a wisp of chantilly lace or a crinoline is just not practical.

(Photograph omitted)