A cool, clear night. A glimmering Eiffel Tower. Madonna next to a strapless Gwyneth Paltrow, next to Chelsea Clinton sporting her new blown-out bob and smoky-eyed look. All the ingredients were in place for Donatella Versace's "circus of color and crystal," as she described the Spring 2002 show that opened the Paris couture collections.

Daywear announced itself in the form of Day-Glo quilted silk georgette minidresses and pantsuits featuring square scooped necklines and rainbow piping. Then came acid-green and lilac dresses embroidered with galaxies of rhinestone stars, followed by frisky holographic sequin skirts and dresses woven from an intricate web of purples and greens. Teeny-weeny trapeze-artist outfits came sequined in pale pink and blue, finished with powdery tassels around the hem.

For evening, hems dropped to the floor, as the girls, big hair scooped back off their rouged faces, vamped out in vibrant citrus bodices ending in waves of chiffon. Gauzy, long-sleeve rose and orange gowns dissolved in a riot of tiny feathers. A blood-red sparkling backless sheath cascaded in long silk fringing. If couture is a circus, Donatella has once again proven herself its ringleader.