Some designers surprised their audiences this season by doing everything from using a cast of Fellini-esque models to showing uncharacteristically subdued looks.

John Galliano: "Everybody's beautiful in their own way." John Galliano plopped copies of Ray Stevens' schmaltzy lyrics in the seats at his show on Saturday night. It's time to realize that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. That must mean a casting of all kinds of people, not just tall, skinny models — get it?

So out they came, all tricked up in campy carnival tawdriness, an older woman-oily young stud pairing followed by a glamour girl and geezer sugar daddy; a Mr. and Mrs. Jack Sprat zaftig woman-skinny man set (if Jack were a sleazy circus aerialist); three sets of twins, including bros in sheer, do-note-the-family-jewels dresses; and on and on through odd-couple duets of glamazons, lesbians, cross-dressers, punks, pimps, waiters, soldiers and grand dames, ending with the bride and groom, both little people. The result was Fellini-esque sans the obvious empathy. It also lacked the lavish romance of past Galliano extravaganzas, including his Dior couture homeless collection.

Not that Galliano was making fun of his subjects; rather, it was tough to discern what exactly his point was. Still, many in the audience found it marvelous, seeing it as a welcome respite from two weeks of mostly boring European shows. Yet therein was the rub. For those neither captivated by the spectacle nor moved by the message (at least a few in the crowd took offense), the whole thing was a flop.

The clothes? Beautiful indeed. But in the midst of so much showmanship, they made for a mere sideshow to the main event.

Hermès: No one thinks of Jean Paul Gaultier as one of fashion's shy types. Yet the spring collection he showed for Hermès was subdued from the very first exit — a white draped shirtdress. His safe seaside clothes included suede jackets with open work seams and a bounty of colorful cardigans. He showed linen blazers and carefully tailored pants, as well as plenty of demure pleated dresses. And all of it was put together with a nostalgic Deauville propriety.

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