#MelangeCouture: Haute Couture Autumn Winter 2018

Day 4 

Maison Margiela Artisanal AW18 | Retrieved from Vogue Runway, photographed by JASON LLOYD-EVANS

Maison Margiela Artisanal  

John Galliano was inspired by the notion of new glamour – what is glamour as we remember it to be in the old movies in today’s Insta-Age? The collection was based around a an old-fashioned, masculine coat wardrobe, including a classic trench and a driving coat and then mashed up with post-modernist deconstruction and codes of the ultra glamazon: golden heeled boots, a red lip, a form fitting silhouette. The beauty also made a statement where it looked like shampoo hasn’t been washed out of hair, but the girls got her outfit on, a statement lip and she is good to go taking on the world!

Jean Paul Gaultier 

Apart from Lagerfeld at Chanel, I can’t think of any other designer who doesn’t love a theme as much as Mr. JP Gaultier. Today the narrative took us high into the Alps with. Not the alps of Val d’Isere Ski week, but Apres ski full of nostalgia and glamour. You know like Audrey Hepburn in Charade, James Bond speaking up some perky snow bunny, back to a time when people wore wool turtlenecks and did the twist to the latest jazz. This however was Gaultier’s version of Apres chic with some looks titled Gstaad The Way It Is, L’Avalanche, What You Looping At, – classic dad jokes. Love it.

Elie Saab  

Elie Saab’s show notes brought to life a magical world of “fallen kings, defeated by a fearless and heroic sisterhood . . . bright and brave warrior queens they were, are, and forever will be.” His couture creations were inspired by medieval princess warriors – strong – nevertheless probably wouldn’t do too much damage on the battlefield, unless the battlefield is a metaphor for a romantic conquest. The composition of velvet and silk, extended royal opulence especially when  embroidered with gold thread.

Victor and Rolf 

Who paraded out on the catwalk in the latest couture? Stick think models? Oh no! Dolls! (Well, models wearing doll suits with blown up heads of cloth and big ogly eyes) The effect inspired the thoughts of what is reality, where lies individuality (as most dolls looked the same – apart from different hairstyles and skin colour) and aren’t we all just playing dress up in the “real world” where we are our own dolls? The “Dolls” first wore the collection made of refitted and sculpted bomber jackets (remember that trend took the world by storm) and afterwards the same collection was worn in new ways by “real people” bringing the dream into reality. Always a treat!

Valentino

It was only a matter of time before Valentino would use the church as a stimulus for fresh designs. The Valentino atelier is only a stone’s throw from the Vatican. Pierpaolo Piccioli used references of religious figures including cardinals and bishops, nuns and martyrs. Hence, hooded capes were featured throughout the collection as well as silhouettes that resemble the robes of priests. The metal bags with enamel mosaic details (a collaboration with Harumi Klossowski) featured the shapes of animal heads meant to symbolize the seven deadly sins. Possibly a turn off for some clients in search for a feel good buy. The central idea was about couture being modest, colourful and comfortable without an ounce of kitsch or carelessness.

Day 3 

Chanel Haute Couture AW18 photo by Lillie Eiger for dazed digital.com

Chanel

To no surprise, the morning belonged to Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld who never fails to exceed expectations when it comes to the latest fashions or the spectacular sets. Today the Grand Palais housed a scaled down version of the Eiffel tower – bringing the most recognisable landmark indoors, bringing the hustle and bustle of the city inside. The collection of course played to the house codes with tweed dominating smart coats, dresses, skirt suits and trouser ensembles. The feathered embellishments gave the subdued hues a kick. Evening wear took an A-Line shape and were themselves very towering as they drifted below the “Chanel Tower”. Volume played a big role as well as exciting layers and shaping encouraging an extended silhouette. Overall, it was sleek, conservative, and poised. The highlight of the show however was not the collection itself, it was the following award recognition where the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, presented Karl Lagerfeld with La Médaille Grand Vermeil de la Ville de Paris – The Highest honour in the city.

In French, Hidalgo stated, “ “You are one of the most beautiful persons I’ve known, a person who is today universal. You make Paris more magic, more creative, more beautiful. You are a true Parisian . . . I’d like to thank you from Paris.” With her and Lagerfeld in the middle of the Palais amongst the huge crowd, it was a genuine moment of gratitude not only from Paris, but from the entire fashion world. Lagerfeld is the father figure of the industry so seeing him receive the highest recognition he so fully deserves was a particularly stirring moment. A toast to Karl! A genius, a living legend, and a man who cares so much for his work and others.

Chanel Tower photo by Lillie Eiger for dazed digital.com

Alexis Mabille 

Hoo WAH! It was the scent of a woman which inspired Alexis Mabille’s freshest couture collection. Ok maybe not Al Pacino’s dramatic blockbuster film but literally, Mabiille imagined how the scent of a woman would look like. This multisensory interpretation idea gave life to 20 soirée dresses organised by colour tones based on a spectrum of fragrance notes including bergamot, tonka, and opoponax, geraniums and peonies. “Seeing Scent” is a worthwhile idea and adds an extra layer to couture. Is Mabillle foreshadowing an upcoming fragrance for his maison? Nothing planned at the moment! However, with such a delightful bouquet featured in the couture designs, it would be a treat to bring the couture to a wider audience! A compelling collection.

Alexis Mabille Haute Couture AW18

Armani Privè 

In true Armani fashion, the Privè collection brought gown after gown of red carpet winners – many surely to be worn by today’s stars. Black the dominant colour of the collection brought an air of mystery and seduction. Winter flowers of turquoise, navy blue and hot pink popped out from the black velvet backdrop while crystal embroidery twinkle like the night’s sky upon the darkness. Also twinkling were the cat shaped belt buckles which added a playful touch when placed above a floor length chiffon skirt. The WOW factor was brought by a hot pink and black bustled cape inviting us all to embrace a revived age of glamour. The dramatic silhouettes reminded me of grand butterflies making their way into the evening. Simply stunning.

Armani with the wow! Factor

A post shared by Suzy Menkes (@suzymenkesvogue) on

Day 2 

Schiaparelli AW18 Couture | Retrieved from Vogue Runway, photographed by JASON LLOYD-EVANS

Schiaparelli

Seeing a Schiaparelli collection always evokes a teeth baring smile, due to the many small quirky sometimes humorous references reinstating that couture doesn’t need to be serious (not always)! Thank goodness Elsa Schiaparelli’s legacy lives on with Bertrand Guyon who this season sculpted his creations to be independent and bold. A sense of liberation captured the spirit of the collection, most obvious with the ethereal tulle pieces (especially in white) – pure and confident. Trompe-l’œil and surrealist details boosted a gown’s complexity including an embroidered Dali-esque lobster on an elegant overall and my favourite – the embroidered “bracelets” and “watch” stitched onto the cuff of a white crisp blazer. No need to splurge on accesories! Naturally, shocking pink danced across the runway, here in silk chiffon and crepe with delicate crystals resting on the neckline. Most spectacular was the Mark Rothko influenced dégradé evening dress – a visual symphony of colour. As harmonious as any summer sunset.

Iris Van Herpen 

Today marks Iris Van Herpen’s 10 year anniversary since she started presenting her manus x machina futuristic designs in Amsterdam. Since 2011 she has moved her show to Paris by the invitation of the Fédération Française de la Couture and has continuously inspired and surprised interpreting the many capabilities couture has to offer. Van Herpen is so futuristic in her designs and techniques it is almost as she is visiting us from an upcoming century! While her counterparts work with organza and silks, Van Herpen works with metal; shearing it into filament-thin geodesic rosettes to mold them together into equally glamorous dresses. In terms of embracing current technologies and pushing the boundaries in material innovation, Van Herpen remains in a league of her own.

What a fabulous contrast between “old” and “new” but still celebrating an identical spirit of craft.

It reminds me of the talk in Hyères with the IVH CEO Bradley Klerks spoke of how the “traditional” design process based on feeling and observation remains the true approach to fashion (even amongst new technologies). I wonder if her vision and that of a more heritage brand will ever merge?

Christian Dior 

An urban jungle @dior reviving the classics for the modern woman 🦅🐯#Dior #pfw #mariagraziachiuri #aroundtheworld

A post shared by Nina Van Volkinburg (@modernmelange) on

Another anniversary is celebrated today. 70 years since the founding of Maison Christian Dior which is celebrated in style at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs where an exhibition of all the house’s past designers will be showcased including John Galliano and Yves Saint Laurent . The retrospect is of course preceded by the couture collection, which took place at the Hôtel des Invalides, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s second couture collection for the Maison. While last season we emerged within a Midsummer Night’s dream, this season took us “Around the World” inspired by Monsieur Dior’s international travels after WWII. Although the set was incredible and brought the audience into a real urban jungle, I believe the collection did not reflect this theme. The collection felt very Parisian and cosmopolitan, failing to capture true cultural roots and an opportunity to incorporate a melange of cross-border influences.

Many looks were in Dior grey, elegant and proud, and brought back elements of the 1940’s. I feel Katherine Hepburn (and Amelia Earhart?) would have swooned over this wardrobe – even the men’s brogues and lug-soled ankle boots which added a clever feminist juxtaposition to the poised pieces.

Giambattista Valli 

First up was Celine Dion, and then the rest of the front row followed (well most). A standing ovation in fashion is very, very rare and how deserving Valli is to receive just that! He is a couture magic maker offering a day to night wardrobe from dainty minidresses pieces to true princess gowns. Although known for his floral patterns, my favourite pieces were Valli’s simple draped silk chiffon delicately running down the body like liquid breaths. Beauty in its purest form. Of course it was the last tulle dresses which took the breath away from everyone (this has become a Valli tradition). A moment what couture dreams are made of. Simply magical.

That @giambattistavalliparis finale moment #couture @wmag

A post shared by Rickie De Sole (@rickiedesole) on

Day 1

Rodarte Spring 2018 | Retrieved from Vogue Runway, photographed by JASON LLOYD-EVANS

…. And we are off to the races! 

Comparable to one of those classic early April days, where the sun shines, it rains, it snows, it hails and then breaking through the clouds the sun comes back out in full force creating a rainbow and bringing a smile onto all our faces. This is how Day 1 of Haute Couture week felt like. We witnessed Haute Couture at A.F. Vandevorst (guest member this season), demi- couture at Ronald Van der Kemp and his label RVDK, a pre-collection at Hèrmes, Summer 2018 collections from Rodarte and Proenza Schouler, as well as a namesake label launch by Peter Dundas.

The point is, that we have now an originally intended Autumn Winter “Couture Week” which is showing seasons – Summer, Winter and everything in between. Do we think this is confusing? Is this liberation of not complying to a schedule?

Maybe I shouldn’t overthink this escalating phenomenon and just reflect on the gorgeous creations witnessed today and accept it… but should we be worried that couture week – built on handiwork – is becoming less and less about the couture?

First lets talk about the Americans in Paris.

Rodarte Spring 2018, Collage by Nina Van Volkinburg

Proenza Schouler Spring 2018, Collage by Nina Van Volkinburg

Proenza Schouler, Rodarte and Monique Lhuillier, have crossed the pond to show their Summer collections in Paris. It is a bold move demanding a place on the Haute Couture calendar, but the potential rewards include increasing sales and increased international visibility. It’s  a high risk and high reward game, as I can imagine having increased pret a porter (especially from the US) at Parisian haute couture week is not probably met with open arms. However, both Rodarte and Proenza Schouler did their brands and the grandeur of “couture” more than justice delivering enticing collections – the former an ethereal delight and “more Rodarte than ever”, the later American cool merged with Parisian finesse – a convincing transatlantic marriage.

Peter Dundas, who previously held positions as creative director of Pucci and Roberto Cavalli, ( You might remember his first independent appearance, with his creation being worn by Beyonce at this years Grammy’s!) launched his namesake brand with all of classic Dundas elements: excessive embroidery, tangy hues of pink and citrus, and most importantly that bohemian sexiness encouraging “good vibes only”! It was great to see him back on the scene, taking the helm of his own label.

Peter Dundas, Collage by Nina Van Volkinburg

Today July 2nd, was that indecisive day in early April showing every season. Today reiterated the changes which previously remained underground and we as an industry are
moving forward into a new territory. Yes, no risk no reward – and by the looks of what we saw today, that risk may definitely be worth it!