Haute couture presents a multitude of faces and personalities. From demure elegance to experimental wild child, every imaginable style twist is exhumed for show with every haute couture cycle. Haute couture today might be slightly less significant than it had been 100 years ago given the proliferation of seasonal collections presentations, but it is still showing promise and incredible talent, and still garners the kind of respect that few disciplines can boast.
Beauty is the global aphrodisiac, and Haute couture is its eternal spring.
This round of Haute couture collections (the official members and their official guests, and all those who used the week to show as well) was possibly one of the wildest in memories. We’re not talking about earth-shattering designs that are going to guide fashion into a completely new direction, rather the multitude of designers who decided to show their own take on couture. Some collections were brilliant and made everyone from critics to clients swoon (i.e.: Christian Dior) while others made everyone pause and think, “Hey, why not?”
Elie Saab loves his muses to be ethereal. He also favors soft evening looks over daytime tailored ones. His Byzantine collection was much more 1930′s fluid gowns meets Belle Époque embroidered lace frivolities with a little 1950′s touch for the knee-length cocktail dresses. Haute couture by monsieur Saab is a visual version of an exclusive perfume…many layers building up to something so beautiful and precious… hyper feminine and dreamy.
Reformed enfant terrible, Jean Paul Gaultier is fast becoming the grand maitre of the discipline. His madcap sense of humor is stuff of legend and unjustly masks his virtuosity as a fashion designer and tailor… and of course couturier. Jean Paul Gaultier is very much Old School, yet, is able to still shock and awe with every haute couture collection. This time around 19th century Romantic literary decadence was on the menu guided by the mercurial relation between Alfred de Musset and his short-lived relationship to George Sand (née Lucile Aurore Dupin). This collection did the unthinkable… a big dose of men’s couture was introduced to the line-up (20% worth actually). Gaultier is, and will always be, a breath of fresh air and we love him for being a true original.
Today’s Valentino is a wild card, a label that is very difficult to grasp at times. Taking over for a man beloved for making society “golden” is not an easy feat. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, with this collection, seem finally to have come into their own. They held back… a little further back… and then even held back a little more; the end result was a much more Valentino feeling line-up, still with an edgier take on the name. Feminine touches came and went throughout with embroidered floral inspirations and precious jacquards. But, of course, it was the soft gown that took people’s breath away.
For the first time, Maison Martin Margiela showed during the haute couture line-up. It was an introduction featuring 15 looks that showcased creativity based on artisanal craft and re-appropriation, the way Martin Margiela used to do back in the day. Based on vintage items of clothing reworked into fully new garments, this collection was an intriguing intellectual exercise. We shall see if this couture foray will filter down to their next collection.
Eric Tibusch has been around for a while now and seems to always walk the fine line between fashion and film costumes. He loves his drama-filled line-ups; this time he introduced a number of males to complement the feminine creations. The look was slightly confusing, yet still fun. The inspiration read much more Great Gatsby meets Mad Max than traditional haute couture elegance. It takes all kinds, as they say!
Yassen Samouilov and Livia Stoianova’s label, On Aura Tout Vu, is fast becoming the show to attend for the unconventional set, those who love being different for difference-sake. Their global ambassador should really be Chloe Sévigny… Lady Gaga is already taken. The line-up looked like it came straight out of a fantasy, which seems to be de rigueur with Russian designers this season. This Goth-fantasy read clearly in white, black and red, with enough fur, feathers and rhinestones to hype-up the fantastic. This label is defiantly not for the shy ones.
There is a Lebanese fashion revolution in the works; Reem Acra, then Elie Saab, now Zuhair Murad and Rabih Kayrouz, are all coming-out in force and showing truly beautiful creations in the classic haute couture tradition… and there are some very Oscars Red Carpet worthy looks at that!
Zuhair Murad’s collection honored traditional evening/gala dressing with looks that were simply beautiful. His draping and ability to turn textiles into running water will make him super-famous soon enough with the Hollywood elite. His creations may not be the most innovative, but he certainly knows how to make a woman look sexy.
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