Speaking to Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli is always like hearing an Italian art history lesson in stereo. In one ear, she is talking about Mariano Fortuny, his Delphos dress, and “aged” velvet, and in the other, he’s speaking about Isadora Duncan and Loie Fuller and their “expressionist dancing.” All of this exotic early-20th-century Venetian-pagan romanticism was sewn lightly into the Valentino Haute Couture collection and trailed around by barefoot nymphs with gold metal serpents writhing in their tendriled tresses. Via Vogue
Archives for Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week
Chanel Couture Spring 2016 Images Via WWD & Instyle.com
Karl Lagerfeld hit the fashion trifecta at his Chanel Haute Couture spring 2016 show, recruiting the famous faces of today’s It girls—Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and Bella Hadid—to complete his line-up of models. Jenner was the first of the squad to march along the zen-like, eco-inspired garden set in the Grand Palais. The model was clad in a sweeping black lace creation that boasted a plunging neckline and embroidery running down the front of the dress, along the bodice, and straps.
Ulyana Sergeenko Couture Fall 2014 Source & Images Via WWD.com & Style.com
Ulyana Sergeenko Couture Fall 2014: Ulyana Sergeenko looked back to Russia’s revolutionary period, setting out to translate the political and creative turmoil into a lineup that oscillated between USSR-inspired rigidness and the folly of a Tamara de Lempicka painting. In every couture collection, Ulyana Sergeenko tells a story. This time, it was a reimagining of a ride on the Orient Express. Sergeenko’s new heroine not only crossed borders (the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), but also, in a manner of speaking, cross-dressed, borrowing clothes from the men she met on her travels and mixing them with her own more feminine attire. “She could be a movie star,” Sergeenko said, “but she’s definitely a femme fatale.”
Sergeenko opened with a strict coat in black leather with worn-out effects, and quickly followed it up with a pair of luscious high-waisted pants, styled with a transparent top and a long, trailing boa. More literal references to the art movements of the era included colorful, hand-knitted mohair sweaters, an homage to Lempicka, as well as the more abstract, geometric lines of Kazimir Malevich.
At a preview a couple of days before the show, Sergeenko was keen to point out the hand-painted beaded fringe suspended from the back of a silk chemisier gown, or the way the stripes on a sheath weren’t a print but rather intarsias of narrow bands of silk. It was impressive stuff in close-up, as were the hand-embroidered cotton buds (a nod to Kazakhstan’s major crop) that decorated many of the looks.
Giambattista Valli Couture Fall 2014: Nothing said “new Couture customer” like Giambattista Valli’s collection tonight. Imagine the Alhambra Gardens. A girl wakes, maybe she’s still dressed from the night before, maybe she swathes herself in a striped sheet or slips into her beau’s pj’s. It’s bright so she puts on sunglasses. Her head hurts. She wraps it in a napkin from the champagne bucket. And she goes for a walk in the garden. There’s a dry, warm wind, blossoms are blowing, they cloud her…
A pretty picture, and Valli did it justice on his catwalk. Valli visited the gardens years ago and filed the memory away for access at the right moment. It was the eclecticism of the Alhambra that appealed to him, the mix of Moorish and Spanish. That mix was entirely sublimated here, but there was still a feeling for the heat of the gardens, for the richness of the flowers, and even, at the end, a monochrome catholic strictness as a kind of cleanser before a finale of skirts fluffed into an extravaganza of feathery tulle. “They’ll be the best-seller,” Valli announced confidently, because they would lend themselves so well to weddings.
“The secret of my girls is that they’re always eccentric,” he said before his show. “They don’t playit. They are.” So you could say that there was eccentricity in a skirt in pink fluro lace laid over a striped body. But the strength of this lineup was that Valli didn’t, for once, actually cater to that waywardness. Skirts were pencil thin and below the knee, and right away that gave the collection a long, elegant, grown-up line. They were paired with crop tops, tanks, or a capelet situation that Valli liked. In the case of the full-skirted frenzy of the finale, he used tiny piped pajama tops as a counterpoint.
Maison Martin Margiela Couture Fall 2014 Source Style.com Images Via WWD.com
Maison Martin Margiela Couture Fall 2014: The surrealists used to play a game called Exquisite Corpse, in which each artist would contribute an element to an image, fold it over, and pass it on to someone else who would then add his or her bit with no knowledge of what had been done before. At the end of it all, there’d be some screwball composite that would inevitably betray an unpredictable internal logic.
What better analogy for the house of Maison Martin Margiela’s Artisanal collection is there than the Exquisite Corpse? The recombinant elements of today’s presentation strung together a grab bag of extraordinary bits and pieces that ultimately composed “a collective memory of Haute Couture” (or so claimed the show notes). But, typically, it was not the grandeur but the detritus of Couture—the fabric offcuts, the embroidery samples—that the collection celebrated.
Artisanal’s modus operandi is alchemy: Turn a bagful of bottle tops into a shimmering skirt, stitch a handful of embroidered Van Gogh irises into an exotic sheath dress, and collage swatches of cashmere collected at trade fairs into a caftan. Or sew a mess of coins “sourced in various dressing-table drawers and from flea markets across Paris and Brussels” onto a flimsy wrap of fabric to make a jingly-jangly gypsy skirt. The ingenuity was enthralling; the fetishistic detailing of every hour, every bead or sequin slightly less so than usual, perhaps because the collection itself felt a little thin to begin with. It may be simply that the novelty has worn off. Or else the clothes themselves were less enthralling, more arbitrary than before. That was definitely the case with the lobster embroideries and the aluminum “I Love You” party balloon re-created as a crystal bustier.