By  on January 25, 2008

Couture's big guns aren't the only game in town — four smaller houses also presented collections with moods that ranged from quirky theatricality to high drama.

Avalon Vega: Daniel Fumaz and Samuel François' second Avalon Vega couture show channeled Grecian, Indian and African influences. The wide-ranging collection — from a gauzy pearl dress cinched at the waist and draped with floating fabric to a sari-like apron skirt and tie-dye tunics — was a pretty, wearable mélange of far-flung inspirations. But if this design duo is serious about building a couture following, it better give its collection a much-needed upgrade of fabrics.

Franck Sorbier: Up to his usual theatrical antics, Franck Sorbier presented his couture collection via a series of quirky scenarios, from 19th-century damsels in diaphanous lacy dresses picnicking by a stream to tribal dames in embroidered linen gowns, some sporting raffia tutus. A few credible gems stood out from the mix, such as a delightful white embroidered organza coat, or a silk dressing gown with a splashy Thirties print. But on the whole the designer veered a little too eagerly into spectacle terrain.

Boudicca: Brian Kirkby and Zowie Broach, designers of the British label Boudicca, distilled their couture vision into a handful of outfits, most of which dripped with dark glamour, including a catsuit printed with roses and a dramatic gown with exaggerated decorative details.

Stéphane Rolland: Abbreviated looks worked best in Stéphane Rolland's rambling lineup of after-dark numbers, which was sometimes a little heavy-handed on the sequins and flounces. Two of the most appealing styles were a textured minidress embroidered with silver brocade swirls and a silver-lined LBD that swooped open at the back.

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