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Clowns and gowns at Christian Dior's haute couture circus

Harlequins and Pierrot clowns took centre stage at Christian Dior's Haute Couture catwalk show in Paris on Monday, as models sporting ruffs, sequinned dresses and ringmaster jackets paraded through a circus tent, surrounded by acrobats.

Glittering bonnets by milliner Stephen Jones and sparkling shoes added to the whimsical collection on the first day of Haute Couture Fashion Week, a celebration of high-end designers with one-of-a-kind outfits.

Actresses Felicity Jones and Rachel Brosnahan looked on from the front row, as the models wove their way through perilously-balanced human towers formed by the troupe of female acrobats.

Polka-dotted skirts and extravagantly beaded bodysuits contrasted with more subtle looks at the show, with black or white ruffle necks recalling the melancholic Pierrot, a fictional love-worn clown.

Standout numbers included a gold pleated evening dress with a Grecian twist.

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