There was barely a unifying trend to be found as Paris got into its catwalk stride. From 1970s-inspired Lurex minidresses at the Azzaro presentation to sharp-shouldered glam-rock jumpsuits at Jean Paul Gaultier, puffs of duchesse satin at Viktor & Rolf and candy-coloured suede minidresses, 1960s-style, at Loewe, it was something of a fashion free-for-all, with a few inspired moments and lots of confusion.
Vanessa Seward's designs for Azzaro, the label of the late Tunisian designer Loris Azzaro, were predictably wearable: sweet minidresses in the sporty, belted tunic shapes that are starting to appear across the collections, retro playsuits in maritime blues with white cord or coloured piping, crisp cotton frocks with scalloped frills and, for evening, black, coffee or navy pieces with plenty of Swarovski trimmings to amp up the glamour. Bows, bishop sleeves and glittery headbands and jewellery were the key features.
Over in the Tuileries, Viktor & Rolf could not have been more different. An Art Deco backdrop might imply a collection of strong lines and stylised simplicity, but, in the duo's trademark fashion, it was actually a collision of concepts, mixing the giant-shouldered square shifts of last season with an ongoing riff on the men's dress shirt. Crisp cuffs were scaled up and used to slash graphically across the ribbons of silk organza that ran down dresses. Shirt collars were reconstructed into sculptural necklines for off-the-shoulder frocks and, in probably the most successful of the looks, striped cotton shirts became asymmetrical one-shouldered shirt-dresses and, in one case, a simple white long-tailed shirt over the beautifully cut black tuxedo trousers that are a Viktor & Rolf signature.
The collection's other thread was the voluminously gathered and puffed-up satin mini in pale green and white, sliced through with body-con lycra, but by the time a number of giant starched wedding dresses came out, multiple collars springing around the décolletage, the whole thing felt rather like an overwrought fashion graduate collection. Luckily, as always, the pieces that hit the boutiques next spring will be the ones that display the pair's immaculate tailoring skills and sense of humour.
Of course, there are few designers with more of a sense of humour than Gaultier, and his glam-rock collection for spring combined that famous wit with the sassy approach that makes his creations so very appealing to strong, confident women. With the invitation came a pair of 3D glasses, espousing the idea of "fashion in three dimensions" - in other words, fashion for women who are not merely coathangers, an idea Gaultier has championed for some time.
Pushing the idea home in the most physical form was his star model, the singer Beth Ditto, of The Gossip, whose music accompanied the show, and who gave a mini-performance at the end of it. What was notable about Ditto's appearance, and that of another plus-size model, wearing a rather lovely red asymmetrical number, was that unlike other designers who have played with the idea, Gaultier's version was less about shock and more about making lovely clothes for women of different shapes.
A number of pleated pieces were designed to adapt to a range of sizes and Ditto's first frock was extravagantly fabulous even if her final outfit was more characteristically over-the-top. The crowd cheered her on enthusiastically (though don't expect it to make a long-term impact: the fashionistas love a token cause, but they're unlikely to relinquish spindly legs and visible ribs just yet.). A dash across town, and Stuart Vevers took yet another approach to the season, this time a selection of cutesy suede, silk and leather 1960s minis, A-line skirts, cowl-neck tops, cropped kimono jackets, Peter Pan collars and drop-waisted dresses, appliquéd with little leather flowers. The palette was candy-sweet - sugary pinks, custard yellows and metallic greens - and the shapes refreshingly simple.
Best of all - and let's not forget Vevers' background as an accessories supremo at Marc Jacobs and Mulberry - were the kitten-heeled winklepickers covered in spangly, brightly coloured embellishment. Spring seems just too far away.