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Sorbier gives the masses a glimpse into couture
Frank Sorbier pulls back curtains on haute couture, giving masses glimpse into elite world
By The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) ' Democracy has come to haute couture.

French couturier Frank Sorbier threw open the doors to this usually hermetically sealed world ' populated exclusively by an elite cadre of fashion journalists, stylists and editors and the ever-shrinking handful of women who buy the wildly expensive made-to-measure garments ' selling (gasp!) tickets to his fall-winter 2011-12 haute couture show on Wednesday.

Sold on the Internet (gasp!), and priced starting at a very reasonable '31 ($44) a piece, the tickets ' known politely in the melieu as "invitations" ' allowed people who'd never before set foot in a fashion show to access this elite world, at least for the space of the 15-minute long show. People in jeans and non-designer T-shirts queued up in front of Paris' Cirque d'Hiver theater, where models paraded in ravishing hand-crafted garments.

The collection channeled Brothers Grimm's fairy tale world, with models looking like impish Gretels after too long in the woods. A yellow and green pantsuit and matching cap covered the model like lichen, while a coat made from rough, uneven chocolate and evergreen patches looked as if it had been cobbled together out of strips of bark.

"It's the anti-couture couture show," Sorbier said in a backstage interview. "There are no sequins, no crystals, nothing that sparkles. Just pieces that required lots and lots of work."

Sorbier says he personally did the lion's share of the labor, hand-scrunching the silk georgette into the rumpled texture that has become the veteran designer's trademark. All the material was then hand-dyed in the atelier sink.

"There were some models who came by for castings who looked around like they thought we'd been slaughtering something in that sink," Sorbier added with a laugh.

Maybe it was the elfin clothes ' shorn of couture's high-wattage sheen but showcasing its extraordinary workmanship ' or perhaps it was the fashion outsiders in the audience, or both, but there was something magical in the air at Sorbier.

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