Decadent gowns and exquisite craftsmanship are the extravagant inducement which draws all eyes to the runways of Paris Couture Fashion Week; one of the most highly anticipated fashion events of the year.
A surfeit of volume, delicate hand-beading and lashings of lace were the touchstone for this season’s collections, complemented by an unexpectedly high quotient of tailored suit separates.
While quality and decadence are the criteria for couture, design aesthetic and content are given carte blanche, with inspirations drawn from eclectic sources.
Jean Paul Gaultier’s vibrant, pseudo-psychedelic collection inspired by India (and referred to by other sources as being “more akin to Real Housewives of Mumbai”) was flavoured with the spices of the Middle East, punctuated with the usual JPG goth-lingerie aesthetic.
Elie Saab delivered an ethereal dream collection of exquisitely handbeaded couture gowns in a colour palette of pastel with splashes of red and black.
Chanel stunned onlookers with a nature wonderland-themed runway, which offset the theatrical whimsicality of this couture collection to perfection. Gowns in a sophisticated colour palette of black, white and navy were paired with outrageous headpieces offset by splashes of black kohl around the model’s cygnet-like eyes. The classic boucle and off-the-shoulder jackets with sculpted cylindrical sleeves were juxtaposed by lacy leggings and dark florals with flowing skirts. Cara Delevigne was the show’s highlight in a dress perfect for the Swan Princess just before she transforms into the Black Swan.
Alexis Mabille employed tulle and fine lace with intricate beading in hues of fairy floss pink and peach, offset by the palest of whites and a dove grey, which emerged into vampy shades of lilac and midnight blue and on into a rainbow of primary colours; red, pink, purple and yellow.
Valentino’s artisanal aesthetic was not lost on the audience, with seat placards apparently detailing the thousands of hours of couturier craftsmanship that went into the collection.
Armani Prive put forth a chic and sleek collection, part art deco, part ‘70s disco that resonated with the exotically masculine style of Greta Garbo. The inclusion of a feature scroll woven into the necklines and waistbands of gowns added a mysterious element that heightened the decorative aspects of chevron patterns and ringmaster/cloche hats.
Atelier Versace went into overdrive with an eclectic collection that featured sheer panel cutouts, neon pleats, suiting with 24 karat gold pinstriping and gilt with fur epaulettes. Mod-style shift dresses with lemon-yellow fur trim was accented by holographically-panelled suit jackets with peaked shoulders, paired with netball skirts. Piped collar necklines and cutouts compacted the unique tailoring elements of this eccentric collection.
Bouchra Jarrar took a masculine approach to couture, delivering luxurious riding jackets and capacious woollen coats belted with an equestrian essence, in a deep colour palette of azure blue, rust and black and white houndstooth.
Raf Simons for Christian Dior started off with simple and sleek separates, moving into beautifully folk patterned bustiers and flowing gowns, as well as tailored pants. The delicate beading and floating floral patterns were a perfect spring theme against a backdrop of greenery; a perfectly analogous setting for the rebirth of the Dior brand.
Giambattista Valli delivered a subtle entrance with soft chiffons in flowing wrap dresses and ocelot prints in shades of white and charcoal, progressing to lilac chiffon in a flowing effervescence. Palest pink chiffon rosettes embroidered one column dress, as well as sweet pastel chiffon pieces with chunky golden flower neckpieces.
Ulyana Sergeenko was all drama in jewel tones, with a stunningly Gone with the Wind influence that was bordering on pure theatrical, as well as a parochial milk maid concept, with blouson tops tucked into leiderhosen style skirts.
Maison Martin Margiela maintained mystery with ornate face-coverings and a couture collection constructed from upcycled 1920’s beaded gowns and metallic wrappers sewn onto silken fronds for an eclectically gorgeous and sustainable offering.
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Couture week is all about making an impact, and delivering glamour with a soupcon of extravagance. This year, the city of love did not disappoint, delivering collections that were worthy of pure adoration.