This was a fairytale start in every sense for Italian designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, who took the reins of the fabled French label last year.

One dreamlike ball gown after another trailed through the enchanted woodland maze she created for the show complete with a wish tree draped with charms and lights.

Staggering detailing built from sober, almost clerical, robes at the start of the show to heart-stoppers where a field full of poppies seemed to be trapped like butterflies in layers of tulle.

New York Times critic Vanessa Friedman tweeted “sheer romance” as the show ended and described one pleated gold lame dress veiled in black as “Titania’s gown” after the queen of the fairies in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Her colleague Elizabeth Paton was also taken with it, tipping it for Oscars night. Others fawned over a “magical” series of gowns made from layered pleated tulle which Chiuri contrasted with Renaissance-style bustiers.

The designer – who broke up her three-decade-long partnership with Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino to move to Dior – told AFP that she had dived into the archives of the label’s famously superstitious founder Christian Dior for inspiration.

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She slipped tarot and talismanic symbols throughout the collection with one black and white gown embroidered with the all the signs of the Zodiac.

“Couture has to be magic and at the same time it has to be wearable,” Chiuri said. That’s why she combined all her ball gowns with low heels so their lucky owners can dance all night.

Haute couture is unique to Paris, with each piece handmade to measure for some of the richest women in the world.

One much-admired sage green tulle dress in the show with a spray of Impressionist-style flowers made from feathers took 2,200 hours to make, the label said.

Maria Grazia Chiuri steps out with fencing-themed collection for Christian Dior

The haute couture shows attract celebrities from all over the world to the French capital with Hollywood star Kirsten Dunst in the front row for the Ralph & Russo show Monday.

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