For me, there’s no doubt that Couture (French for High Fashion) is the best fashion week. It’s the flamboyance, the surrealism, the carte blanche for the designers to forget about commercial demands and let their imaginations run wild. The shows are breathtaking, mind-blowing and awe-inspiring (I’m often reminded of childhood fairytales and brought to tears by the levels of creativity and the unbelievable craftsmanship and attention to detail). It takes thousands of hours of work to painstakingly and lovingly create some of these priceless gowns, and the labour of love shows. Couture lifts us above current trends, the winter chills, and the hum-drum of life and shows us an alternative reality, what could happen if we dared to dream and reach the dizzy heights of fashion as art.
Even though everything revolves around Paris, the father of Haute Couture is widely seen as English designer Charles Frederick Worth, who made ready-to-wear clothing more personalised to the customer. He also created the Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie de Paris, which governs the Haute Couture business. Following in his footsteps were couturiers Christian Dior, Madeline Vionnet, Paul Poiret, Gabrielle Chanel and one of my personal favourites, Elsa Schiaperelli. Designers like Yves Saint Laurent broke away from traditional couture houses and created their own labels. I could bang on and on for hours about the history but for now I’ll let you look at the pretty dresses…
Giambattista Valli‘s signature piece for Spring 2015 was the dotted veil, which was worn with practically every outfit. This was elegance with an edge, I adored the tulle skirts over trousers and caped embellished tops. I particularly liked the ruffle skirt below, tied low at the waist with the statement Valli bow.
Christian Dior has been creating an extremely strong silhouette over the past couple of seasons.
You can know instantly recognise a Raf Simons creation from a mile off, the shapes and cut-outs have become legendary. This show had colour and graphic prints in abundance, and managed to straddle the future and past, with nods to the 50, 60s and 70s. The vinyl thigh hight boots were showstoppers and went with every outfit. The delicate ribbons embroidered onto the skirt (right) were to me like tree rings. I also adored the flared dresses (above) and the fantastic use of plastic (the printed coat above). There were also bodysuits (not a look that’s often attempted in Couture). Basically the man can do anything.
I absolutely, 100% adore Schiaparelli
. I’m currently reading the autobiography of the surrealist Italian designer who spent most of her creative life in France. She collaborated with the likes of Salvador Dali (they created an amazing lobster dress and a skeleton dress which created a furore at the time) and Jean Cocteau. I particularly loved the fez (left), the hearts and arrows dress (above), the mirror design (below) and the amazing gold/fro
certainly knows how to dress women with curves. She literally pulled out every trick in the book to cut fabric to accentuate and draw attention to our best bits. I’m massively into sheer at the moment and the sheer insets on this amazing gown worn by Joan Smalls (left) are as sexy as hell. Jourdan Dunn’s black and sheer number (above) had the same
effect. The cut outs got wackier and crazier towards the end.
I will be posting Part 2 very shortly, which features Chanel, Valentino, Viktor & Rolf, Jean Paul Gaultier and Elie Saab.