Florals Are Back! Haute Couture Says So
In between fashion months after we’ve forgotten our exhaustion and start to miss seeing new and beautiful clothes comes Haute Couture week. Much smaller, but much more interesting, Haute Couture week is the time when fashion houses can prove what they’re really made of, and what they can really do. It’s like the Grand Slam of fashion. Or, the Grand Slay… No, I’m sorry, that was bad.
Valentino was one of my favourites, with women coming down the runway porting headpieces covered in artfully designed feather plumes, which also showed up around the ankles of strappy heels, eye-masks, and what’s reminiscent of a Masai tribal headpiece.
Florals were a huge part of this A/W Couture week, with most of the houses creating roses by twisting satin fabrics, although Valentino did differ by creating flowers with individually cut petals, looking like little feathers.
Speaking of feathers, it was another huge motif throughout this season, with models coming down the runway looking like exotic birds and birds of paradise – overall a very natural theme.
Elie Saab had the best collection in my opinion, with the most amount of looks I would hoard in my closet (if I could) – it was inspired by the calm nature of dusk. Feathers were artfully placed to look like fungi growing on a tree trunk, a mossy clearing, and the shimmer of a running creek in the fading light. So dreamy.
Chanel was not too interesting in my humble view, but as the House focused on savoir-faire, the interesting details were too small to see – you really have to be there and see the collection in the flesh; to be able to open up the jackets, feel the fabric to really get the magnitude of what the couturiers created. At some point though, you do get quite bored of seeing tweed on repeat. Surely, with their heritage, the designer could create whatever her heart desires? The couture world really is Virginie’s oyster, so it’s a shame she doesn’t go out and take it.
On the other end of the spectrum, Schiaparelli was quintessentially out there, with plenty of draping, stuffed doves for a surrealist touch, and a multitude of realistic-looking flowers that had been tucked into dresses, transforming models into walking vases.
It was Olivier Rousteing of Balmain’s turn to guest design Jean Paul Gaultier’s collection, and after Glenn Martens success last season, I thought it would be hard to beat. Olivier did a fantastic job however – in fact such a good job that I reckon he should turn to haute couture full time. Plenty of long feathers, woven ribbon looks, moulded leather (the pregnant ladies are my favourite), and reconstructed tuxedos. What was my favourite was his effort to bring to life Gaultier’s iconic perfume bottles, with one model walking down the runway in an almost near replica of its Le Male perfume. If you look closely, boots are also constructed out of tin cans – the packaging of the signature perfumes – creating a metallic and sculptural pair of ankle boots.
There was a fair bit of criticism as a lot of Oliver’s looks went down the runway unfinished, held up by safety pins, and it was primarily blamed on the guest designer modus operandi – that they don’t have previous experience working with the couturiers makes it harder to work together. I’m sure there is a degree of truth to that, but I quite enjoy the guest designer each season, as it gives it a certain flair to differentiate each season.
As Christian Dior’s RTW line gets more and more boring by the day, I was despairing of what we’ve lost from Maria Grazia Chiuri’s past. Remember all the beading and embroidery she favoured at Valentino? Remember the astronomy collection, or even better, the sea-inspired collection? I would’ve bought every single item from those if I could, so I was pleasantly surprised to see much more embroidery and beading making a return.
Balenciaga favoured its umbrella silhouettes, which have considerably grown since before they restarted their couture range 52 years ago. The show was held in the salon of their couture house, where the shows used to be held for the customers back in the 1950s, and some of the models and their dresses struggled to fit through the doors this week! The beginning of the collection looked straight out of the horror novel ‘Under The Skin’ by Michel Faber with sleek, dark masks covering their heads, and dressed in the scuba fabric gazar, originally commissioned by Cristobal Balenciaga back in 1958, and created in Switzerland as a revolutionary fabric that adheres to sculptural designs. My only critique was that Demna asked for celebs to model his pieces – I’m sure you’ve seen the memes of Kim K zombie walking down the runway (it’s what I look like at work at the end of a long day walking around trying to find clothing samples), and Dua Lipa strutting her stuff. The only caveat is Nicole Kidman – she deserves to be on every runway, because she’s amazing, and I love her.
Feast your eyes up above…