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PARIS — Surrounded by her tearful studio and models in butterfly-embroidered gowns, Hanae Mori — the so-called Japanese “Butterfly”— bid a graceful sayonara to the Paris couture, where she had been a faithful fixture since 1977. Reprising many of her time-tested themes, Mori offered fetching kimono-print dresses and tasteful tailoring. Such looks as her gold chiffon caftan printed with herons and the black dress with embroidered flowers will leave good memories.

This story first appeared in the July 9, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Elsewhere, in an effort to broaden his appeal, Dominique Sirop introduced a so-called semicouture line, or pieces that take only one fitting. Sixteen of these looks started the show, from suits with corset details to cocktail dresses with asymmetric hems that had a quiet chicness. With his “real” couture, Sirop offered sculptural chiffon gowns, many playing with a corsetry theme, too. He was best when simplest, as in a silver gown with off-center pleats.

Jean-Louis Scherrer is one of the rare houses here that claims to make a profit with couture. Over the past few years, its couturier, Stephane Roland, has carved out a niche with plunging evening gowns and form-fitting tailoring for day. He continued in that vein for fall, adding a Surrealist theme that brought embroidered lips and enormous bows on gowns. Fox-trimmed coats, slinky smoking dresses and long, tiered chiffon gowns in green and pink are sure to please his clients.

Franck Sorbier did what he does best: elegant gowns with hints of distant lands. There was charm in his long hand-painted silk confections, flowing silk trousers and rich velour jackets, and form-fitting bustier dresses.

Stephanie Coudert, who was sponsored by Christian Dior to enter the couture fray, made her runway debut with an artsy collection of bias-cut confections and dresses of layered chiffon with asymmetrical hems. There was a futuristic feeling in the leather patchwork on a silk skirt, while a recycled leather bomber jacket converted into a dress had a vintage flavor.

Laurent Mercier, the former couturier at Balmain, which is currently in bankruptcy protection, made a comeback as his old cross-dressing alter ego, Lola. As is to be expected, the clothes were over-the-top, with cabaret-style bodysuits decorated with feathers and long “post-surgery” coats. Mercier, in full makeup and a silver wig, took a bow in a small nurse dress.

Meanwhile, Trash Couture, which has been generating buzz since Roberto Henrichsen and Ann Wiberg launched it two years ago, staged its first runway show here in a small cafe in the Marais. Long, lean gowns were intricately embroidered with feathers and sequins, while lace embellished others. The designers have refined their manner of recycling old fabrics and turning them into one-of-a-kind creations.