Paris Couture Week 2017: 15 Collections That Touched The Season
An important question to ask today is what purpose does high fashion serve? Designers nowadays use it to let the world know that the future is femme. In equal parts of nouveau glamour and experimentation, this year’s Fall Couture Week allowed for the idea that couture can be both, opulent and emotionally captivating.
This collection of Armani’s was dedicated to the surreal and iconoclastic Franca Sozzani. Its essence was based on an unusually dark palette of blacks, flashed with tantalising jewel tones of ruby red, hot pink, soft sapphire and deep lilac, with chic and sharply tailored garments. A gothic aesthetic of restraint floated through the collection, with slight textures of tulle, lace, and beading, depicting flowers and the flight of birds. It was almost as if they were letting Franca know that her memory is living on.
Donatella Versace cast her mind back to her intensely dark and medieval 1998’s A/W ready-to-wear collection only to showcase an outer-worldly experience of exquisitely detailed and inventive looks. Since it’s Versace, we don’t even have to mention its sex-appeal. Futuristic elements of baroque tainted with rock ‘n’ roll were served with metallic scale embroideries and chains in intricate formations. 3D printed metal trims and snake skins adorned a collection that transcended clichés of couture.
For a house returning to couture after six years, Alaia made a tough and irresistible return. With his timeless eeriness, this collection was a modern interpretation of power. Strong, classic proportions in wool with innovative serial embroidered motifs hugged every curve of the models. Shedding older trends of ruffles and feathers, this collection was meant for the urban woman, with leather and metal. Naomi Campbell walked, representing this new-age Egyptian queen (with her hair wound slick in saran wrap), telling other women that Alaia is here for them.
Paris’s famous German, Karl Lagerfeld has been a true showman. With a runway that replicated the grandeur of a life-size Eiffel Tower rising into a gorgeous misty sky, he was bestowed in true Parisian style under it with the Medaille Grand Vermeil de la Ville, the highest honour of the city after the show. The collection was deeply rooted in the ideas of how Chanel herself transformed womenswear in the early 20th century. With a palette of dark greys and blacks and stark silhouettes, the collection was engineered in its signature tweed – long coats, cardigans and matching tunics and skirts, almost as if it were a regiment. However, in the spirit of defiance, they were all enveloped in feathers, arm wraps and trimmed hips and hems.
‘A complete collection should address all types of women in all countries’ is what Dior mentioned in his autobiography. On the 70th anniversary of the house’s founding, Maria Grazia Chiuri walked right in his footsteps as she showcased a collection inspired by his travels and of the many female travellers who tried to break the mould of patriarchy. Menswear fabrics, such as wool and herringbone, cut in Dior grey were almost like throwbacks. Maps were etched on in gold as if to let everyone know that journeys and destinations are ways to a new world and for Chiuri, a new Dior.
This collection from Saab has had a rather different tone from the other work he’s created. There was glamour and lavishness, of course, but to reinvent medieval femme power. These floor-sweeping gowns and capes are fit for the modern-day warrior queen. ‘A fearless and heroic sisterhood defeating Kings!’ almost as if it were right out of a fairytale, and who can resist that. Fabrics of velvets, silks, and tulles embroidered with gold threads and beadwork and motifs of armours and wings.
Fendi’s collection was unseasonal, but it did bring a much-needed bloom while we’re all headed into winter. As the stage unveiled unto a rosy woodland, Lagerfeld aroused a floral fantasy. Poppies, in shades of mostly blue on mink, hand sewn with numerous small paillettes caught many eyes. Two very ingenious techniques of dying and hand-painting mink were also highlighted that night. Motifs of many other flowers such as chrysalis, tulip, and irises were also used, garnering Lagerfeld and his atelier a standing ovation.
A not-so-surprising fact about Valli’s collections is that they always cater very loyally to their audience’s demands. This time, even with their larger-than-life silhouettes and slinky columns, Valli’s collection depicted a sense of freshness and femininity which was restraint. Inspired by his own pictures of flowers in his garden, the collection was aimed at the youth, with lightweight embroideries, still in the baroque and classical wheelhouse. The embroideries were of crystals and macramé on fabrics of silk chiffons and tulles.
Sometimes, haute couture is created to express a feeling and sometimes haute couture just aspires to reminisce its golden age. Guo Pei’s collection harboured the latter with a new-found splendour of metallic luster and embroidered embellishments. Cinematically glorious gowns and cocktail dresses graced the runway with beautifully gilded or fanned bustiers. Even having taken about 30 days to create, the collection was a red-carpet knockout.
Iris Van Herpen
Celebrating her 10th anniversary in the business, Iris Van Herpen is and has always been at the centerfold between the prism of art, fashion, and science and is looking to the future for inspiration. Titled ‘Aeriform’, the collection was inspired by the fluid movements of water and air. Her materials of use: metals moulded into rosettes to make frocks, cotton bonded with Mylar and laser cut velvet lace. Each of these flowing silhouettes incorporated intricate hand-pleated, printed, beaded or braided techniques defining a new kind of ‘unique’.
Jean Paul Gaultier
Brave is the word that comes to mind when describing Gaultier’s work. He’s always been courageous at adapting and theming his shows with enthusiasm. It was thsi similar vibe that was seen through this collection based (unconventionally) on ski culture. What took center-stage was, of course, the chic tailoring. From long column dresses to smart tunics, this collection was all about Gaultier’s signature theatrical skills.
Who knew glamour could be subversive too? Well, John Galliano! This collection by him for Margiela was an acknowledgment to the legacy of the house, that just like Margiela, Galliano could make an anarchic order of fashion. As he turned plisse organza into corrugated cardboard, plasticised fancy feathers and turned leather into wood, he authenticated his role in the order of the business. For the woman who can unconsciously even throw on a pullover and look enchanted, this collection was about creating beauty out of plain eeriness.
Ralph & Russo
In a very short span of time, Ralph & Russo have created a sweet spot for themselves amongst evening-wear. For this collection, the designer duo looked at the works of master photographers such as Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, and Norman Parkinson. A gorgeous line up of glorious gowns and seductive cocktail dresses in an array of fabrics, from satin, organza, and tulle right to embroideries in crystals, gold, pearls, sequins, feathers, flowers and more. A voluptuous Sonam Kapoor was the cherry on top, in her Chantilly lace gown, with a double duchess overskirt and train. An ideal dress for an ideal fashionista.
For creative director Bertrand Guyon, this collection was inspired by all the creative women in Schiaparelli’s circle, from writer Anais Nin to photographer Lee Miller. Seeing this era as the beginning of liberation for women, he wanted this collection to depict their sense of freedom, liberty, and independence. Consisting of diversity in terms of textures and embroideries, there was still a sense of whimsy (which the founder of the house, Elsa Schiaparelli herself was known for) alight with women on their everyday activities. There were split pastels and jewel tones in various combinations for day-wear, along with gowns in floaty tulle tiers, truly painting us a rainbow to the pot of gold.
Pierpaolo Piccioli’s collection for Valentino was under the shadow of the Vatican, as he took inspiration from ideas of the Vestizione (the layering of religious garments) and paintings of saints and martyrs by Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbaran. Once again, bringing to mind that haute couture isn’t all that different, with its craft and storytelling. There were layers of clothing, such as shirts, tunics, skirts, turtlenecks, trousers, coats and even bibs making fashion more contemporary, with impeccable handwork, artistry, and design. That has been the house’s trademark for the last six decades. For a juxtaposed finishing touch, he collaborated with Harumi Klossowska de Rola on seven bags that represented the seven deadly sins (all in the form of animals).