PARIS - Jean Paul Gaultier enlivened Paris fashion on Wednesday with a clown-inspired collection citing influences from David Bowie's Pierrot costume in "Ashes to Ashes" to Italian director Federico Fellini's film on the circus performers.
Couture looks from the French designer came with pointy hair, huge pockets, leopard print faux fur and clown's hats on the penultimate day of Paris fashion week.
Actress Catherine Deneuve was among those on the front row and French TV reality star Nabilla appeared on the catwalk in a velvet bustier dress entitled "Black Panther".
"She's exactly the sort of girl that I like, with lots of personality," Gaultier said of the "voluptuous" brunette who was noticeably the only model with breasts and hips.
Gaultier said the "huge, huge" pockets of many looks came from the shape of oversized clowns' trousers, adding that he had always admired Bowie's costume in the video of his 1980 hit.
It was "very beautiful. I always dreamed to do some outfit like the costume of the white clown which is very different, very poetic", he told reporters backstage, speaking in English.
By contrast, other looks for autumn 2013/winter 2014 featured lots of leopard print faux fur.
"I tried to use it in a new way. There is a kind of femininity in the panther, something sexy but elegant at the same time," he said.
All Gaultier's looks were named after the titles of films, television series, records and albums including recent offerings such as "Downton Abbey" and "Stranger by the Lake".
In "Slave to the Rhythm", the title of the 1985 Grace Jones album, a black velvet dress was teamed with a hooded fur-trimmed cape and dark glasses.
Other looks included "Nikita", a belted electric blue leather coat with high collar, and "Mortal Sin", a flowing purple robe in jersey and chiffon, embroidered with crystals.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Elie Saab's "Royal Affair" collection featured shimmering regal gowns in emerald green, sapphire blue and blood-red like "rubies plucked from a crown".
At the Frank Sorbier show, meanwhile, models looked as if they had stepped out of a Holbein painting, after the designer became fascinated by portraits of the era.
Parading at a stately pace through the formal gardens of the Swiss embassy, models wore lace veils, richly embroidered silk jackets and courtly dresses with trains.
Five days of men's fashion and four days of haute couture wrap up in Paris on Thursday.
Haute couture exists exclusively in Paris and is sustained by a small number of the world's richest women.
Fashion houses that belong to the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture must observe strict requirements on the number of garments produced and the amount of work carried out by hand.