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PARIS — The last time the couture collections took place was the first time most of the fashion world, that traveling circus that reunites only during shows, had seen one another after more than a year of pandemic trauma.

That was in July 2021, and the streets of Paris were afizz with excitement; air kisses were exchanged for full-body hugs and there was talk that a corner had been turned. Vaccines were here. Restaurants were reopening; festivals were taking place. Everyone would need something to wear!

Paris Couture Week: Reporter’s Notebook

Jessica Testa
Jessica Testa 📍Reporting from Paris

Paris Couture Week: Reporter’s Notebook

Jessica Testa
Jessica Testa 📍Reporting from Paris
Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

I’m at Paris Couture Week, which kicked off on Monday with an eye-popping and otherworldly show by Schiaparelli.

Here’s what I saw, including the star-studded front row →

Paris Couture Week: Reporter’s Notebook

Jessica Testa
Jessica Testa 📍Reporting from Paris
Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

The collection was full of intricate gold designs, some of which were clearly tongue-in-cheek.

Others were inspired by outer space and mythology.

Paris Couture Week: Reporter’s Notebook

Jessica Testa
Jessica Testa 📍Reporting from Paris
Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

This wasn’t entirely new ground for Daniel Roseberry, Schiaparelli’s artistic director, who has made weird accessories with anatomical themes his signature.

Paris Couture Week: Reporter’s Notebook

Jessica Testa
Jessica Testa 📍Reporting from Paris
Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

Surreal costume jewelry has also been a signature of the brand since it was founded in the 1920s by Elsa Schiaparelli.

Paris Couture Week: Reporter’s Notebook

Jessica Testa
Jessica Testa 📍Reporting from Paris
Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

For this new collection, Roseberry leaned further into that concept with, for instance, a bag cast in the likeness of a human head.

Paris Couture Week: Reporter’s Notebook

Jessica Testa
Jessica Testa 📍Reporting from Paris
Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

From the bust of this black column dress sprung giant strips of metal, designed to move like jellyfish.

Paris Couture Week: Reporter’s Notebook

Jessica Testa
Jessica Testa 📍Reporting from Paris
Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

The metallics brought heightened drama to a show that was already a spectacle of excess and celebrity. (Julia Fox, center, sat front row with her new beau, Kanye West, at right.)