PARIS -- Dazzled by 36-year-old Christian Lacroix's success with excess, the once-sleepy world of Paris couture woke up international fashion watchers with an outpouring of opulence and abandon seldom seen in this international capital of chic.

The questions now remain:

Are Marie Antoinette's panniers really pertinent outside of Paris?

Can Mozart's frock coat play in Pittsburgh?

Will Whistler's Mother's fichu make it out of the rocking chair and into the street?

Whether the rest of the fashion world will be influenced by this new more-is-more look for fall-winter 1987 remains to be seen. But if Azzedine Alaia has already taken Paris fashion to its minimum, as his tight-and-tarty dresses would seem to prove, maybe it is time to take French fashion to the max.

The leading spokesman for this divine-madness approach to design is Lacroix, who already has changed the course of international fashion with his widely copied poufs and bustles.

In his much-acclaimed first collection under his own name, the former Patou designer continues the poufs, puffballs and petticoats that first brought him international attention. New this season are the clothes inspired by his native Arles, bullfighter braids, matador oranges and reds, the simple shawls and fichus of Provence -- all are recalled in Lacroix's Camargue-inspired designs. Bustles, too, remain intact, but are switched from back to front, making it chic to swell the stomach.

Other designers also take up the cause of costumerie with a cast of characters from turn-of-the-century Vienna, 18th-century France, 19th-century Spain, 17th-century Germany and 20th-century America. This idea of looking at the future through a rear-view mirror is not unusual in the couture where the past is revered, but it was different this season because the the "new" costumes are chopped off above the knees -- a foreshortening that made them at once younger and funner.

There were moments of magic with many designers, but the one who managed to recall the past without getting stuck in it, and to throw caution to the wind without getting blown away by it, was Paris design great Hubert de Givenchy.

From the brilliant hot oranges, reds and yellows of his coats to his short black puckered velvet cocktail dresses electrified with oversize shocking pink bows, everything worked -- probably because Givenchy had worked to make this such a special collection. His homage to Christian Bernard included amazing portrait-printed jackets, dresses and gowns inspired by the painter and fashion illustrator's familiar drawings. These included magnificent jeweled embroideries.

There were the Audrey Hepburn reprises everyone hoped for from Givenchy, the exquisitely tailored suits and the elegant evening clothes expected from this talented man, but perhaps the biggest surprise of the collection is the designer's new use of color. Bright yellow coats appear with bright purple fezzes. Bright green coats are worn over bright purple knit chemises. And bright purple cashmere shawls banded in fur are flung over bright green suits accompanied with shocking pink hats and gloves.

This return to bright colors is seen throughout the couture, with red, orange, shocking pink, green, purple and a bright, bright yellow leading the way.

Other trends include:

Short skirts. The hemline hike is such an established fact of life in the couture this season that only two major designers -- Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent -- bothered to show any daytime skirts below the knees. Cardin showed several at calf level. Saint Laurent offered one midi.

These thigh-baring skirts don't seem to upset the private customers, who know that made-to-order means the hemline of your choice. As Della Koenig of Beverly Hills, Calif., says: "My vendeuse {saleswoman} at Saint Laurent called me this spring to assure me that Monsieur Saint Laurent would make my clothes at any length I chose. Other designers, such as Lacroix, have told me that they do certain things only for the flash appeal of the runway. They are all happy to hem my clothes at midknee or just below. After all, I have to sit in these dresses."

Little black dresses. This is a look Paris couturiers put on the fashion map decades ago. For 1987 the favorite fabric is black velvet, followed by satin, taffeta, lace and mousseline. And the favorite design fillip is the colorful oversized taffeta bow, usually positioned at the left hip and usually with streamers to the floor. The hems of many of these little black dresses dip in the back, sometimes all the way to the floor.

Frock coats and redingotes. The long, full dandy jacket is definitely the preferred expression of costumerie for day. Often the jacket is almost as long as the skirt. Emanuel Ungaro shows it in tailored worsteds as well as soft velvets.

Decorative hats. Not since Lillie Langtry's day have big-brimmed picture hats and platters played such an important role in fashion. The best ones of the season are at Jean-Louis Scherrer.

Fur trim. From fur hems at Christian Dior and Givenchy to fur sleeves at Saint Laurent, designers are playing with pelts. Their favorites: mink, sable, fox and ermine.

Short evening dresses. Except for the elaborate dressing gowns at Chanel and Saint Laurent, the knee-baring evening dress makes the long gown look passe'.

The new Chanel suit. Karl Lagerfeld combines plaid Chanel jackets with solid skirts for fall in a new look at the unsuited suit.

More leg. High heels, usually pumps in suede for day, silk or satin for night, are the only height offered by couturiers, and sheer, dark stockings are the preferred leg veiling of the season.

Other than long skirts, the only real casualty of this couture season is pants. Saint Laurent showed one pair; so did Givenchy. Chanel showed a pair of knickers. And the only designers to offer more than these token trousers are Cardin, who opts for ski pants with stirrups, and Ungaro, who shows slender black velvet pants with high heels.