Haute couture autumn/winter 2018-19: our favourite looks from the runway so far

With the haute couture having recently concluded in Paris, we pick our favourite looks

epaselect epa06864353 Polish model Magdalena Chachlica presents a creation from the Fall/Winter 2018/19 Haute Couture collection by Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad for his Haute Couture fashion house during the Paris Fashion Week, in Paris, France, 04 July 2018. The presentation of the Haute Couture collections runs from 01 to 05 July.  EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

As the very height of fashion expertise, the haute couture collections are the most hotly anticipated shows of the entire fashion calender, where designers and makers test the very limits of what is possible. Best seen as little works of art, rather than clothes - and affordable to only a handful of women worldwide - the shows offer a glimpse into a very privileged world. Here are some of the highlights so far.

Valentino

What a wonderful world Valentino creates, filled with colour, frills and oh-so-much volume.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 04:  A model walks the runway during the Valentino Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019  show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 4, 2018 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Jean Paul Gaultier

Amid the expected craziness from the former enfant terrible of fashion, the show had its moments of sublime craft and sophistication.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 04:  A model walks the runway during the Jean-Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019  show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 4, 2018 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Guo Pei

A restrained show by Pei's normal standards, but this caged dress, based on architecture, was beautifully complex.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 04:  A model walks the runway during the Guo Pei Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019  show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 4, 2018 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)

Fendi

With mulitple looks using sequins, chiffon and tulle instead of fur, was Fendi signalling a move in a new direction?

A model presents a creation by designers Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini as part of their Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2018/2019 collection show for fashion house Fendi in Paris, France, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Zuhair Murad

Outdoing even himself, this collection was breathtaking in its beauty and technical mastery.

epaselect epa06864353 Polish model Magdalena Chachlica presents a creation from the Fall/Winter 2018/19 Haute Couture collection by Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad for his Haute Couture fashion house during the Paris Fashion Week, in Paris, France, 04 July 2018. The presentation of the Haute Couture collections runs from 01 to 05 July.  EPA/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON

Maison Margiela

Oh, to get a glimpse into the mind of John Galliano. His latest couture collection for Maison Margiela is a strange but glorious journey through recycling, deconstruction and virtual reality as seen through the prism of a creative tour de force.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 04:  A model walks the runway during the Maison Margiela Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019  show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 4, 2018 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)

Franck Sorbier

Part dance piece, part couture show, Franck Sorbier's collection explored the fine line between haute couture and theatrical costume. Beautifully crafted from feathers and tulle, this is the stuff of dreamlike whimsy.

epa06863328 A model displays a creation from the Fall/Winter 2018/19 Haute Couture collection by French designer Franck Sorbier during the Paris Fashion Week, in Paris, France, 04 July 2018. The presentation of the Haute Couture collections runs from 01 to 05 July.  EPA/IAN LANGSDON

Alexandre Vauthier

By far the strongest look from Alexandre Vauthier was this burnt sienna asymmetric dress over crumpled snakeskin boots.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 03:  A model walks the runway during the Alexandre Vauthier Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019  show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 3, 2018 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)

Armani Prive

The master of understated elegance, Armani sent out this look that combined a velvet sheath dress with a veil that segued into a sleeved bolero.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 03:  A model walks the runway during the Giorgio Armani Prive Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019  show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 3, 2018 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Xuan Couture

The designer Xuan-Thu Nguyen may not have the scale of a grand runway show yet, but this look of couture as daywear was breathtaking in its boldness.

epa06862371 A model presents creations from the Fall/Winter 2018/19 Haute Couture collection by Dutch-Vietnamese designer Xuan-Thu Nguyen for Xuan Couture during the Paris Fashion Week, in Paris, France, 03 July 2018. The presentation of the Haute Couture collections runs from 01 to 05 July.  EPA/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

Chanel

In a tough and urban-inspired show, Chanel delivered this stunning hybrid of an LBD under a slashed, oversized knitted wrap skirt

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 03:  A model walks the runway during the Chanel Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019  show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 3, 2018 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Giambattista Valli

Proving that he remains the master of dishevelled tulle, Valli's confection in aqua was positively dreamy.

A model presents a creation by Giambattista Valli during the 2018-2019 Fall/Winter Haute Couture collection fashion show in Paris, on July 2, 2018. / AFP / Bertrand GUAY

Iris Van Herpen

Using cutting-edge technology, Van Herpen stunned with this hypnotic mirrored headpiece.

A model presents a creation by designer Iris Van Herpen as part of her Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2018/2019 collection show in Paris, France, July 2, 2018. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Christian Dior

Nude feathers provided movement in this otherwise simple silhouette.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 02:  A model walks the runway during the Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019  show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 2, 2018 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Schiaparelli

In an animal-themed show, Schiaparelli presented this gilded cat mask, paired with a bold leopard print look.

A model presents a creation by designer Bertrand Guyon as part of his Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2018/2019 fashion show for fashion house Schiaparelli in Paris, France, July 2, 2018.   REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Another look was this shocking - also known as Schiaparelli pink - pink watered silk gown, with butterfly mask

A model presents a creation by designer Bertrand Guyon as part of his Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2018/2019 fashion show for fashion house Schiaparelli in Paris, France, July 2, 2018.   REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Eva Minge

This breathtakingly romantic dress, with its layers of tulle and a bow at the nape of the neck, is by Eva Minge.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 01:  A model poses backstage prior the Eva Minge Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 1, 2018 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

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Givenchy

In a couture collection dedicated to the house's founder Hubert de Givenchy, artistic director Clare Waight Keller created looks that celebrated his legacy, such as this two-toned dress that sat proud on the body.

A model presents a creation by Givenchy during the 2018-2019 Fall/Winter Haute Couture collection fashion show in Paris, on July 1, 2018. / AFP / Alain JOCARD

Another highlight was a white cape that folded, envelope-style, around the torso.

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 01:  A model walks the runway during the Givenchy Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019  show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 1, 2018 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)