Donatella Versace kicked off the autumn/winter 2013 haute couture collections in Paris tonight - well Naomi Campbell did actually, opening the Atelier Versace show for her old friend and looking every bit as fabulous as ever.
This was never going to be a shy affair and so, over the next six weeks or so, the monied Versace couture customer might consider ordering a black tailored dress the jewel-edged hook and eye fastenings of which open to reveal lacy black underwear scattered with more sparkle. Or, she might prefer equally high-octane tailoring - think a high, strong shoulder and nipped in waist on a jacket and ultra-flattering skinny hipped trousers that flared from the knee down. Donatella herself has long favoured this long, lean silhouette.
On the red carpet - and there is always an eye on that here - ankle-length goddess gowns split to the thigh (that glittering hook and eye fastening again) boasted just the full-on glamour quotient but also (and importantly) the figure forming structure this house is known for. A girl knows where she is with Versace: no need for anything approaching the demure here.
As she stepped out in her own new season designs to take her bows Donatella herself embodied the aesthetic perfectly. No one would want to mess with a woman wearing these clothes.
Over the next three days august names including Dior, Chanel, Valentino and Jean-Paul Gaultier will show off the skills of the seamstresses who staff the French ateliers at their most rarefied. Haute couture remains the jewel in the fashion crown. Each garment is entirely hand-crafted by men and women at least some of whom trained under the great mid-Twentieth Century couturiers and now pass their expertise down to younger generations. Garments are then fitted to embrace the customer's every curve. Such workmanship comes at a price. Even the simplest piece costs tens of thousands of pounds and the super wealthy women who invest in and wear it rest safe in the knowledge that only very few models of their chosen outfit will ever be made.
By Susannah Frankel in Paris