Peacocks strutted their stuff on Paris' catwalks Monday, as Italian Giambattista Valli sent out red-carpet ready looks covered with glimmering feathers, and wildly inventive Indian designer unleashed a fantastic menagerie that included a Swarovski crystal-encrusted version of the proud bird.
The scene was tamer at Yves Saint Laurent. With its winter 2010 ready-to-wear display, the French label delivered a sober but well-tailored collection of suits and leather looks.
Dutch duo Viktor & Rolf gave stiff a good name with their tromp l'oeil collection that solidified flowing Greek drapery.
Stella McCartney played with opacity and transparency in a sexy, lingerie-inspired collection that also included cruelty-free alternatives to fur and leather.
French label Leonard delivered kicky knit silk and wool dresses in the house's hallmark hothouse flower prints. The oversized orchids in royal purple and hot pink would have been right at home in Arora's fanciful tropical kingdom.
Paris' ready-to-wear displays move into their seventh day on Tuesday, with shows by Chanel, Valentino and eccentric British designer Alexander McQueen.
Toward the middle of the show, you thought you'd seen some nice things at Valli: the tent-shaped coats that swung just so; the leather jacket with bouffant, fur-covered sleeves.
But then came the peacock feathers. Thousands of them, covering coats, dresses and skirts, their cobalt eyes shimmering wildly as the photographers flashed.
One strapless dress, in a metallic peacock print, had feathers fanning out from its neckline. A black turtleneck was paired with a flowing, ankle-length skirt made entirely of the feathers.
Valli said he had taken his inspiration from the late, great French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.
"I was attracted to that decadence, with no boundaries, no rules, all that eclecticism," he told reporters backstage in Paris.
Valli, a former designer at Emanuel Ungaro, launched his own label in 2005 and made a name for himself by dressing starlets like Mischa Barton and Victoria Beckham.
There were plenty of red-carpet-ready pieces on display Monday _ from a long, lean belted dress in a print that gleamed darkly like an oil spill or bouffant, high-water trousers in a rich aqua blue.
"It was amazing, I want it all," gushed celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe as she gave Valli a celebratory post-show squeeze.
Picture "The Jungle Book" remade by "The Fly" director David Cronenberg and you can begin to envisage the bizarre menagerie of oversized beasts in hothouse hues that Arora unleashed onto his catwalk.
"The idea was to take everybody on a journey to my jungle, where I belong," Arora told Associated Press Television News, though the collection looked like less like a product of human ingenuity than something beamed down by stylish aliens or hatched in a petri dish.
Peacocks glinting with Swarovski crystals emblazoned a tunic, a moose-head made from what appeared to be superimposed wooden planks emerged from the belly of a dress, while a nearly life-seized bird of prey _ entirely covered in crystals _ perched on the shoulder of another dress.
The knobby fabric of a cocktail number mimicked a lizard's spiny skin, though the eyes that gleamed out from the bust of the garment were something entirely more menacing.
Mammoth orchids in saturated pinks, purples and reds burst forth from a short sheath dress, obliging the model had to hold her arms stiffly away from her body.
A headpiece concocted from metal and red bulbs mechanically flapped its wings of silk.
The collection garnered among the most enthusiastic response of any Paris show since the start of ready-to-wear week last Wednesday. The audience cheered, and whistles of encouragement and whoops of delight echoed over the booming soundtrack, most of which was culled from "Slumdog Millionaire."
Another animal lover, McCartney, continued to highlight animal-friendly alternatives to fur and leather, sending out oversized rock star coats in piles of shaggy lambs wool and stiletto boot-cum-leggings treated to look like second-skin leather.
Pop star Pink _ one of a host of A-list guests that also included rapper Kanye West and McCartney's Beatle father, Paul _ praised McCartney's commitment to the cause.
"She proves that you can be wildly successful and creative and still have moral values," Pink told reporters at a post-show event organized by animal rights group PETA _ which has staged protests outside displays by other Paris labels, including Christian Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier.
But mostly, McCartney's collection hinged around delicate black lace. A light spaghetti strap nighty dresses got a provocative edge from lace finishings, while starburst patterns of lace paneling sexed up flowing ankle-length gowns.
The lace "is nice to remind you there's a human element underneath the clothes, nice to get skin," McCartney told reporters backstage.
VIKTOR & ROLF
Stiffness never looked this good.
The Dutch's collection of geometrically precise tromp l'oeil draping that was almost as static as the Greek statues clustered at the top of the runway which set the tone of Monday's show.
It was the antithesis of the red carpet goddess dress _ draped with wild abandon in fluttering chiffon _ that's a perennial favorite of Hollywood starlets.
There were no feather-light silks, no liquid silk folds, just a razor-cut design of folds that looked like the draping on a toga reduced to its essence. Trench coats in taupe wool, long skirts in putty _ all were adorned with the decorative folds.
YVES SAINT LAURENT
Master tailoring took center stage, as Italian designer Stefano Pilati paired razor-cut elongated jackets with tapered pants in blacks and charcoal grays.
The influential designer, who has been at YSL's helm since 2004, also sent out several stand-alone pieces in black leather, including a strapless bustier with a zipper down the front.
What looked like a leather trench coat from the belt up sprouted legs and became a sort of hybrid onesie. A model wore leather overalls whose black straps marked an X across her naked back.
A white poplar shirt with bouffant sleeves and an oversized draped bow at the neckline was paired with high-waisted pencil skirt.
"It was great, I love Stefano," said rapper Kanye West, who has been making the rounds of Paris' big-name shows. Other A-list guests included French actress Catherine Deneuve and model Claudia Schiffer, YSL's new face.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.