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Paris haute couture week shows changing face of high fashion

Paris haute couture fashion week has kicked off with designs ranging from copper-frilled skirts to garbage bag gowns. The inclusion of ready-to-wear brands shows the high fashion event is broadening its horizons.

This year's prestigious Paris haute couture fashion week has been given a makeover.

The four-day event, which kicked off on Sunday in the French capital, will see at least 35 fashion houses present their fall 2017 collections - including some brands from the US, Netherlands and Belgium that are typically known for their ready-to-wear styles.

Watch video 04:58

How to Become Haute Couture

Some 550 journalists from 25 countries are to attend the shows along with wealthy high-fashion lovers for the runway presentations this week, according to Vogue magazine.

The French fashion association, which determines the highly exclusive circle of designers who can call their products haute couture, extended invitations this year for certain designers to present their work as so-called "guest members."

One such "guest" was Dutch designer Ronald van der Kemp, who started off the fall high fashion season with a show for his brand RVDK.

Alexander Fury, the chief fashion correspondent for the New York Times' fashion-focused T Magazine, tweeted a picture from the show.

Long, bell-shaped hats paired with bold blouses and a gown with large, copper-colored ruffles were among the highlights in Van der Kemp's collection.

Fully accredited fashion houses have to follow strict guidelines established by the French fashion association, including that their pieces must be handmade and that designers have to have at least 20 tailors working in their studios.

Only 15 brands continue to hold this distinction, including Chanel, Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Maison Margiela.

Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris (picture-alliance/AP Photo/F. Mori)

New York-based brand, Proenza Schouler, made its Paris couture debut on Sunday

Romance and trash bags

Two other couture newcomers, New York-based Proenza Schouler and California-based Rodarte, also showed their collections in Paris on Sunday.

French haute couture designer Julien Fournie, who is known for dressing royalty, told news agency AFP that he welcomed the inclusion of the US brands, that are known for dressing Hollywood royalty.

"Everyone has the right to come to Paris to measure themselves against the greats. All the better (that) the Americans come and we will see what they can do," Fournie told AFP.

Rodarte, run by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, sent out a romantic collection with models wrapped in flowing organza gowns and black leather biker gear.

Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic at the New York Times, snapped a picture of one Rodarte model wreathed in a mass of flowers.

The Belgian husband-wife team behind A.F. Vandervorst put forth one of the more edgy collections of the day for their Paris couture debut. Models walked the runway with head dresses, hats and wimples made of purses and jackets. Several models sported gowns constructed from garbage bags.

"It's about total freedom and creativity, and a women who lives out of her suitcase... transforming old stuff into new," designer An Vandervorst told news agency AFP.

A model displays a creation designed by A.F. Vandevorst during the 2017/18 Fall Winter Haute Couture collection

A.F. Vandervorst's collection was a celebration of the "woman who lives out of her suitcase"

Monday and Tuesday will see grand, multi-hour runway spectacles from fashion powerhouses Dior and Chanel.

Chanel's veteran designer Karl Lagerfeld will also be presented with the Grand Vermeil medal – the highest honor the city of Paris can bestow. He will be awarded the medal on Tuesday by Mayor Anne Hidalgo following Chanel's show.

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