Luxury labels Christian Dior and Giorgio Armani fought for the hearts and minds of A-list actresses in Paris with glittering haute couture...

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PARIS — Luxury labels Christian Dior and Giorgio Armani fought for the hearts and minds of A-list actresses in Paris with glittering haute couture presentations of red carpet gowns.

Helen Mirren, Kerry Washington, Liv Tyler and Eva Mendes were just some of the celebrities who descended on the French capital Monday for the first of three days of autumn-winter couture displays.

The Dior show should make even the notoriously icy U.S. Vogue editor Anna Wintour crack a smile.

British designer John Galliano delivered an ode to the magazine with his retro-flavored collection, and he injected just enough sauciness to make it perfectly relevant for the 21st century.

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Cinch-waisted jackets with extravagant folds at the waist were paired with translucent skirts, while evening gowns came in cascades of frosted tulle glistening with silver sequins.

The looks were inspired by model Lisa Fonssagrives, who married photographer Irving Penn in 1950. Together, they produced some of Vogue’s most memorable images.

Guests included singer Janet Jackson, who said she was busy preparing for the launch of her own line of lingerie later this year.

“They’re classic. There are some things that have a vintage feel to them,” she told The Associated Press.

Perhaps she can crib some tips from Galliano, who has the vintage look down pat.

From the moment the first model emerged in a white coat topped with an oversized black patent leather corset belt, it was clear the rebel designer was on great form.

Smart wool skirt suits dissolved into vaporous chiffon at the hem, and a black hourglass swimsuit was topped with a completely see-through black tulle gown.

Of course, these made-to-measure creations will be adapted to suit the tastes of high-profile clients like France’s first lady, former model Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

The wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy has worn Dior on official visits to Britain and Israel, drawing plaudits from style commentators. With France taking on the rotating presidency of the European Union on Tuesday, she will be more closely watched than ever.

“It’s a lovely relationship because Dior is a very old established name, Carla’s the wife of the French president. To me, it’s a natural symbiosis,” said Hilary Alexander, fashion director of Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Armani, on the other hand, has a natural affinity with movie stars, dressing actresses from Sophia Loren to Cate Blanchett.

Shades of earlier Hollywood heroines like Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich ran through his collection of tailored jackets with razor-sharp shoulders and goddess gowns glistening with beads.

Some of the outfits also read like subtle tributes to Yves Saint Laurent, the great couturier who died this month at the age of 71. Classic Saint Laurent touches included bows pinned to the shoulder of a jacket or dress, and transparent blouses.

Mirren said she considered Armani “the master,” but was not superstitious about switching designers for award ceremonies.

“I just want to be comfortable, so if I win or I lose, slumping in my seat or standing erect on the stage, I kind of look OK,” she told the AP.