Pomp and Circumstance at the Paris Haute Couture Shows
While we were all sweltering in States, the Paris Haute Couture shows were in full swing. There's been a bit of speculation in recent years as to whether or not it's worth abiding to the fashion calendar–especially as brands merge mens and womenswear showings and opt out of traditional fashion weeks in favor of more exclusive and exotic locations for their shows. That being said, all of the French haute couture heavyweights came to bat this past week, with Chanel hosting in the Grand Palais per usual, and Dior sweeping guests off into a glazed space surrounded by dress forms donning older designs.
There was big attitude and even bigger hair at Valentino's couture show this season. Lush fabrics arranged in bell sleeves, full bodied skirts and sweeping trains cascaded down the runway in fuchsia, opalescent or cyan green, turmeric orange and velvety reds. Valentino muse Kaia Gerber made an appearance in sky-high hair that seemed to defy gravity. Other models were accessorized with flowery headdresses that read like more glamorous versions of retro swim caps. Many (including myself) were unsure of Pierpaolo Piccioli's direction for the house following Maria Grazia Chiuri's departure for Dior, but this couture show is a testament to Piccioli's vision for Valentino–his creative strengths clearly suit the resplendency and scale required of couture design.
In a statement for Vogue, creative director John Galliano mused that his latest vision for the fabled fashion house is to capture “the raw, raw, undiluted essence, the parfum,” of Margiela. Who can argue with that mission? Galliano's latest foray into the world of all things wacky and wonderful sent models down the runway swathed in all the colors of the rainbow exposed and deconstructed across layers of competing fabrics and unnerving silhouettes. Galliano's work for Margiela by no means follows our conventional understandings of beauty, but there is something unmistakably breathtaking about all of his creations for Margiela.
Jean Paul Gaultier
One of Jean Paul Gaultier's greatest successes is his ability to bring a distinct creative vision to life without ever feeling formulaic. Haute couture is about pushing the boundaries technically as well as aesthetically, and Gaultier always manages to have fun with his collections in a way that straddles the line between high fashion and kitsch (something Moschino, Philipp Plein or say, Alexander Wang, often struggle with). Sneakers and baseball caps don't often make appearances on haute couture runways, probably for good reason, but Gaultier's vision seamlessly melds components of streetwear and couture, without sacrificing his tendency towards the fantastic and otherworldly.
Chiuri is a pure genius when it comes to couture. Her interpretations of femininity–which, for this collection, manifested through muted color palettes and unfussy silhouettes–in nuanced and unconventional forms never ceases to amaze me. This collection defied fashion eras and trends, despite drawing from Dior's storied past. On the intimacy and timelessness of her designs, Chiuru reflects: “Couture is about something hidden... If you go to the atelier, you want to take care of yourself and know that someone will take care of you... We have this big opportunity to work with a different definition of time. Craftsmanship is long; it is a dream for a future.”