A Blush of Rose
Haute Couture for Autumn Winter 2016-17 in Paris All images here with kind permission of the respective Houses.
Since Schiaparelli returned to the show schedule in 2014 much has been made of Elsa's legacy and her controversial bold style. looking the collection for Autumn-Winter 2016-17 the flashes of colour that appear in some of the designs do however leave plenty of scope for your imagination without becoming
too challenging to those with more conventional tastes. There's a very sophisticated mixture here that both channels the founder and also doesn't feel too 'mix and match' either. Has Elsa's world of different perspectives, surrealism and playfulness translated into the post millennium world, absolutely and it seems to be just what many Haute Couture clients have been crying out for. The House represented by Farida Khelfa and numerous contemporary style icons including Claire Danes, Tilda Swinton, Anna Wintour, Jourdan Dunn and Uma Thurman has settled itself in well on the Haute Couture circuit as a 'must see' show and one that attracts the eyes of leading stylists and patrons of Haute Couture.
Those looking for more conventional pieces can utilise the looks that work around the long lines echoing the heyday of the original House channeling the lines and nipped in waists of the 1930's and 1940's. Early looks in the collection above feature black or dark navy one or two piece outfits with gold appearing in subtle motif's or in a very appealing ruched blouse. It's a lesson in how designers can metamorphasise key themes into different looks. Above to the right pink and grey appear is a faintly space age 70's looking piece that echos Elsa's era in the shoulder detail. The floor length dress to the far right is pure fun with bold colour cut out shapes placed on the bodice creating juxtaposition with the classic minimal design themes of the dress.
Texture, as always is a great realm for expression and a faux fur coat with colourful abstract animal patterns over a layered fringe dress in blush pink spells eye catching style that never goes over the top or loses the essential sense of refinement that you expect from Haute Couture. It's undoubtedly luxury but these are also clothes that you can live in, go out and play in and really enjoy. This is fun fashion just as Elsa intended it to be, with grown-up style added in abundance. Brocade featuring animals playfully intertwined across the surface of the coat and trousers off set by a petrol blue blouse underneath manages not to overwhelm the style nuances from the of emphasised shoulders and cinched belt tie waist.
Centre above the dress with triangle cut off the shoulder detail blends camouflage colours and artdeco shapes in a subtle mix that would work well on the red carpet as well as for evening receptions. Schiaparelli have a strong line in creating trouser suits that tick all the boxes in terms of styling and capture what is now recognisable as their distinctive signature House style. Floral applique or artistic cartoons give an extra dimension to expression that that has the correct level of sophisticated impact required for the clients; serious style with a touch of whimsy and humour. Rich in embellishments and fascinating fabric the playsuit to the right cropped at the thighs is another piece that will serve clients well on the red carpet and is filled with an enjoyment factor.
Coloured jacquard intarsia above to the left on the ice-blue jacket is a playful burst of cool style fitting perfectly somehow with thoughts of cooler seasons. The skirt folded in asymmetric lines gives both definition of line in the House style while allowing for freedom of movement honing discreet elegance to a 'T'. Next the above ankle round skirted dress style is worked through a series of looks that captivate with their beguiling simplicity. The eternally feminine golden Bee at the bodice adds a point of definition to the dress descending through golden bodice to charcoal black skirt. You could wear this with a wrap or a jacket on colder nights and dance the night away during the party season. Ideas are the name of the game in this collection and the ribboned multi-coloured effect with tassels and fringe detail at the bodice giving hints of the carefree artistic aesthetic close to Elsa's heart. In the true tradition of Haute Couture and one of the things that I love about the way clothes where shown more in the past Schiaparelli are always careful to show the reverse angle of the dress so that the full effect of the dress is captured. The detail in the animal illustrations is stunning and like the best Haute Couture this is an art meets beauty moment set against the most magical black backdrop.
Above and intriguing design traces animals on the forms of the ancient French cave paintings alongside the great wheel from the centre of Paris with the silhouette of the birds in the sky echoed in the draped neckerchief styled asymmetric collar. It's stunning in it's originality and subtle enough to be carried off at formal events thanks to cleaver working of the colour tones. What Schiaparelli is bringing back to the catwalk in Spades (and we can all be thankful for this) is long-line classic Hollywood-style glamour that has a fresh modern spin. The draping, the length and sensitivity to the figure with the of Schiaparelli's recognisable House style make it a good choice for people looking for black tie and red carpet dresses that will tick the right style boxes without being too much for the camera or equally bland and forgettable. Key elements of line, proportion, cut. style and finish are combined as the dresses fall across the woman's figure and create and elegant train behind her.
Schiaparelli are dressing their clients with as much confidence and vision as any the Haute Couture Houses showing in Paris right now and as part of the unofficial circle of leading Houses to watch they are firmly established on the calendar. Schiaparelli was a woman who saw the suture coming and this age and it's fashion technology gives more room to expand on her ideas and themes. As if she'd never been away? Perhaps, but with each seasonal incarnation of her style we see more of her vision realised before our eyes.
Times of change are afoot at Dior with a new Creative Director taking the helm and the expert atelier team who have done a great job looking after the label and co-designers stepping back. So heading into Autumn-Winter 2016 we saw something not too far from home but with a fresh feel to it. A couple of days after the show took place we learned that Maria-Grazia Chiuri was to be the new head of the House taking the opportunity to forge a new path
after many successful years co-heading Valentino with Pierpaolo Piccioli. The atelier team have signed off with a collection that will excite Haute Couture clients across the generational spectrum which has always been what these Houses have needed. Haute Couture buyers amongst the very rich are as likely to be 17 or 70 and are from every corner of the globe. Moving away from the frankly experimental approach of Raf Simmons to a more classical refined Haute Couture can only be a good thing on many levels for the House. The first thing that strikes you about the collection is the black and white colour scheme. Working the key black and white tones, a look I loved putting together last season myself, is a fast way of creating an eye catching style that will often create a very sophisticated statement. Above to the left the opening ensemble with hoop-famed crinoline style skirt is matched with an asymmetric caped blouse that trails the floor. It's a piece that shows the creative mileage that a top Couturier can conjure when blending tradition with imagination and the notes of House style.
Neat collars and a hint of the Victorian men's frock coat re-worked in the white suit add a touch of Marlene Deitrich while the fluid flounces curving softly around the form of the black and white look to the centre in a look that would fantastic on a teenager and/or her grandmother. The off the shoulder black dress takes the lines and styles of the celebrated Dior New Look with front fastened bodice adapting sleeves to take the place of evening gloves and cheat the sharp winter air. The subtle folds of volume in the skirt giving classicism are offset by the dropped crinoline underskirt. The crinoline as an outer skirt takes on a new form again in the next look with a beautifully embellished jacket sitting perfectly on the form in the hand-in-glove Haute Couture manner.
Play with layers is a theme that the Dior team clearly found many variations of. Alongside playing with folded shapes in the skirt, the draped layers around the waist show the interest in playing with line as it crosses the upper part of the body. Where embellishments appear they are in contrasting colours to the fabric that they rest upon. The look second from the left reworks the classic 'Bar' suit look with a relaxed Bohemian hint. The idea of broadening out the 'Bar' jacket extends to the next look centre above with a layered tulip style skirt adding a subtle floral style nuance and floral motif's placed at the lower shoulder and waist.
The white full skirted piece evokes a feeling of modern fairytales and it lightness and free flowing feel are complimented by the sheer chemise that trails the floor in an ode of feminine lightness. I think it could also be teamed with several of the shorter pieces from the collection to in the close fitting looks if you wanted to create a piece with tonal contrast. As trouser suit beautifully combining fluid draping and peplum hints in the jacket with ordered lines in the trousers next to the right gives a very classic look a contemporary feel. To the far right the off-shoulder 1950's style is played with showing semi-sheer silk covering the shoulders and crystal applique adorning the surface.
Ruffles and ripples across the surface evoke a light angelic romanticism in the soft outer layer of the garment that add texture and tone to the piece. The waves become swirls in the above ankle length skirt and volume gently follows the natural lines of the female form. It's a piece that has echos of warmer months to suit either end of the season but who is ever cold at a Christmas party, hardly anyone ever. The black dress to the right is a tulip shaped play on the classic Dior 'Bar' jacket and is one of the most versatile looks of the collection. Centre above Bella Hadid wears a dress that again channels the era-defining 'Bar' jacket with beautiful raised applique on the surface.
To the right a sleeveless chemise with floral leaf-like shapes paired with a long silk black skirt channels the other angle of the New Look era the sleek long lines that developed from style of the 1930's and 1940's. It's a great look for cocktails and dinners and has a great day to evening appeal. To the right volume appears again with a wide skirt featuring outsized crinoline hem billowing elegance as it moves and offering a perfect contrasting fit to the top embellished with florals and subtle pin tuck pleat detail. To the right a fitted jacket along 'Bar' lines with it's pleated skirt and trailing gauze-like train creates a sweeping statement that would work well on the red carpet or at private events this winter.
The off the shoulder look above to the left harnesses the power of simplicity while the motif at the waist gives an extra stylistic focus. Feminine details of bows appear here across the bodice and also at the shoulders of the next dress the right while pockets in the dress of this look echo the shapes of early century women's wear. The hints of practicality adding a subtle hint of ingenuity and busyness about the look. Long line pleats are a fantastic way to add extra volume and where also a key feature of the skirt of the 'Bar' look. Dazzling with applique to the left Dior have cleared laid their stand out as returning to the true origins of their House going forward but giving it twist of exploration. it feels new and 'special' when you look at the pieces and without being boring is an Haute Couture collection that we anticipate seeing from the House. Every one of the looks from the collection is a piece that looks wardrobe ready and friendly to a life in front of the camera or to be cherished in a private collection.
In this collection Dior have gone all to town creating a profusion of looks and styles. Keeping to two colour is a very clever idea to focus the variation on showing the great skills and craftsmanship of the atelier in the last collection to come out before Maria Grazia took the helm. Some feel that true elegance can be one of the hardest things to define but in our minds eye we know how the beauty of a defined shape and it's ability to fit the female form superbly will leave an indelible impression on our conscience.
Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo have lead the way in the resurgence of Haute Couture founding a new House based on traditional principles that earned
it's place on the Haute Couture Schedule in 2014 for their debut collection as a correspondent member was a significant event on many levels. It was the first time in over fifty years that a British House had shown and it's believed to have been over a century since a female British Creative Director had open an Haute Couture show in Paris. Looking to the future there are bright lights on the horizon as Haute Couture continues to experience growth and looking at Ralph & Russo offering this season which they have supplemented with gorgeous clutch purses and the Eden heel pump in the last few seasons. It's the details that matter here and this is one of the shows where the shoes will always match for the colour of the dress.
The collection opened with one of their looks that serves a truly international client base. Covering the shoulders and regally sweeping the floor it's a look that either with or without the cape is a beautiful statement in femininity and light in structure as a dreamy breeze. The next look to the right re-works a beautiful theme from early collections that I suspect is popular with clients, a dress and cape with outer shell in deeply embroidered silk with a reverse colour contrasting lining. Both colours part of the collections key themes. The flowing fabric oozes luxury and has a beautiful ripple to it that only pure silk has when it moves. The romance of petals with their swirling delicacy gives the full fairytale Princess gown effect to the next look. In these opening moments of the collection it is highly apparent to the audience why Royalty and A-list Actresses alike from all corners of the world place orders for these pieces. A little more daring the sheer numbers to the right with their long sweeping lines are pure luxury. Generous fabrics weave their spell around the figure and these contrasting designs be they floral or with chain-mail forms show and art to simplifying perhaps complex inspirations into delicate forms.
Ralph and Russo are revered in the industry for their preservation of the high artistry and skill of their atelier, many of their colleagues working on the creation of garments day to day have over 15 years experience in Haute Couture ateliers in Paris. The result is that Tamara and Michael have a friendly, highly knowledgeable team at their disposal who can create the garment of beauty and refinement that their client base is looking for. Blending the best of the Haute Couture tradition with the signature themes of their House has been a winning recipe. The first look to the left brought the icey intricacy of snow flakes to the design sitting closely to the figure in the most beautiful light dress. Elongating the form in the most beautiful way it could also be matched with a cape or a wrap from the collection colour palette.
Channeling silver screen era elegance the next look is one of several with an open neckline that flatters the form in a true symmetry. The gentle folds sit lightly on the hips and accentuate feminine beauty as a feature knot at the waist recalls floral inspirations. Hats where something new that came to the collection and the lavishly hand-painted coat dress above in fall colours subtly prepares the wearer for slightly cooler seasons. Free flowing elegance in the dress in the centre captures the spirit of feminine grace in it's very being. This is a beautiful look that will make the wearers heart sing and is effect for the either Red carpet events or private occasions. To the right Roses in red and white gently climb across the fabric covering the wearer in a heavenly garden of flowers encapsulating the delicate essence of Haute Couture. This feather light piece is another that I expect to see in front of the cameras at some point this season. Roses appear with a hint of feathers in the next bush tone dress to the right creating a fairy tale styled look that will be cherished at perfectly suitable for public or private events.
Floor sweeping elegance is what Ralph and Russo are best known for and next look also evoking a design theme from recent seasons channel the highly desirable colour and style contrast theme with lightest blush pink in the beautifully embroidered main body of the dress complimented by a deep crimson red of the trailing cape. As with all creations from this House it's a poetic pleasure to watch it move as the wearer walks in it. Next to the right, a floor length sheer light look showcases the applique savoir faire of the House to perfection. These sheer and embroidered pieces are one of the style forms from the House that can be revoked across seasons to create a pleasing form. Folds draped in beautiful perfection come next with the lilac dress centre above cloaking the figure in elegance in another look beckoning the Red Carpet.
Black and gold are a winning combination especially in the autumn season and leaf prints at the bodice form a sophisticated juxtaposition to the ruffled feather effect of the skirt. The golden leaves of autumn return on a literal sense with the look to the right fluttering delicately as the wearer walks ruffles in blush pink at the shoulder create a texture contrast while the cut and proportions flatter clients of all ages as many of the pieces will. This like many pieces in the collection feels like an art meets fashion moment.
Taking a new journey into the style of the 1960's the next two looks pay a cute tribute to defining styles of the era. The jacquard style prints of the pencil skirt and the mini dress evoke 1960's glam in the heyday of Carnaby Street and the emergence of pop culture. The collection signature dome shaped hat is another delightful re-working of a 60's theme and with it's delightful slightly cocked angle encapsulates the playful spirit of that era. Baby pink and grey (two of my favourite theme colours) sit together in harmony and the flower power era is referenced in the raised applique of flowers across the surface of the jacket. Swirling long line ruffles on the bodice of the black dress that appears like a suit give a feminine flourish to an outfit that could otherwise look austere and serious. One thing that Ralph & Russo's clothes never do is look over powering and 'too strong' if not humour, there is always a light happy elegance in their character.
To the right the midnight blue dress with sheer floral outer skirt layer and jacket over mesh upper garment is a daring and sexy look that will inspire many clients to make orders I think. Like many of the Houses pieces this is a look that will make a graceful style impact in a colour that is universally flattering. Florals in abundance across the surface of this dress make the next look a show stopping piece that also for me evokes the embroidered 18th century dresses seen in Paris in years gone by. Flitted to figure and then flowing broadly in the skirt it hones a sense of innocent perfection that is effortlessly captivating when we see it come out on the Haute Couture runway. Sleek and sexy is the name of the game in the look furthest to the right with a piece capturing elegance in the folds and twists of it's fabric. A perfect way to show off your pins it gives gentle emphasises to the figure.
Jacquard styling of applique on the dresses above unites the contemporary high fashion style with the elegance and ostentation of the past in Paris and London's Royal Courts and Salons. This artistry is very relevant now to the current era where clients and fashion watches are keen to know and see more of the craft behind the fashion in the atelier and in many cases often have a great curiosity about fashion history. Sitting closely to the figure the look furthest to the left emphasises refined lines to perfection while it's neighbour all in white adds a cape to the style with subtle crystal embroidery around the collar. A swinging 60's feel returns in the next two looks a must-have mini dress embroidered for a pop Queen and the most desirable blush ink over the knee boots. Frost weaves it's beautiful spell across the material.
It's easy to see why Ralph and Russo have counted international Royalty amongst their clients as the clothes are simply majestic in many ways but on a thoroughly modern and contemporary level. To the right above a broad shaped gown encapsulates the modern fairy-tale in blush pink with delicate flowers across it's surface and an echo of petals in it's layered design, it's a piece that captures the height of femininity. Dreams like these are created with many hours of work and dedication. The Wedding dresses that Ralph & Russo produce are amongst the most sought after in the world and the one dress per territory rule means that clients need to quick off the mark after the shows n January and July. However there is always room for accommodation and I think Tamara and Ralph would always try and help a bride in her fashion quest. Below two more bridal looks and the duo show the closing scenes of their show in Paris, one of the highlights of the week.
The high Renaissance was in full flourish at Valentino for Autumn - Winter 2016 befitting the House's status as one of the centres of Italian style and in the fashion world today. Watching this collection come out felt a little like paintings coming to life before your eyes except with the sexy twist of of a great, great granddaughter playing with conventions of style and form and resulting in a sultry taste of luxury to capture the senses.
Ruff collars and jewellery created around chained shapes suspended and pendulous with Renaissance era jewelled symbolism borrow from the ecclesiastical wardrobe that was translated into the day to day clothes worn by men. There's a neatness and symmetry resonant of the order that both church and new sciences sort to create in the world. Translating this into contemporary Haute Couture with exacting eye for refinement, style and most luxuriant fabrics cut to precision. The first look of the collection to the left the themes of masculine dress into a form that is unquestionably feminine. The black silhouette intersected with white ruff and shirt gives strength of definition without being somber, this is true of much of the collection.
The low-wasted puffball skirted dress with waistcoat is a statement look for a party or anytime. Heritage tones take on a truly eclectic modern feel and would suit a broad base of clients anywhere. That much loved staple, the white shirt is played with and taken through many permutations and centre above there are two beautiful variations. To the left one piece with panels and front vestment detail. To the right billowed shoulders show a beautiful feminine flounce and flair not dissimilar from those worn by the dandies at the Venetian and Florentine Courts. There's no denying, both looks are a power statement of sexiness and strength that will have the wearer holding the room, just as she should. The puffball skirted dress returns again with a short cut jacket. sleeves slashed at the inner elbow in late medieval style to also allow ease of movement. Surely the strongest hint of regal grandeur you can possibly have on the catwalk is the ermine worn by British and European monarchs and British peers during coronation and very formal ceremonies. Above to the right a beautiful white blouse with separate ruff collar sits underneath one such piece. Furs like this originally shielded their wearers through the winters of Europe and this touch of regality is complimented by a detailed embroidered black skirt trailing the floor in the emphasis of elegance and lady like style.
This is a collection embracing the decadent and luxurious pleasure of the era that it references. You can visualise walking into the courtyard of a grand palazzo with torches glowing the dark and guests gravitating toward to the entrance to the grand Palace rooms. It's food for the imagination and crucially for many clients there is an easy trigger for thoughts of the events that many of them will have in mind when looking for pieces, or simply to buy for pleasure. The tailored jacket above left sits lightly on the figure and looks somehow very 'Olivier Rousteing' but looks great on the model too. This is exactly the kind of thing I wanted to wear to school in my last two years in the UK, a slightly alternative school uniform I suppose but one that you can have more fun with. The puff ball skirted dress to the right converts into black with a velvety texture and looks very wearable across age ranges. It would be great to dance in at a party. The cropped vest studded in column and accented with puffed shoulders is a simple statement of elegance that forms a conservative approach with a hint mischief in the waist allowing for flexibility and movement on the figure.
Looking to the more conventional looks of the Renaissance lady the centre full length dress with white short beneath would shield you from the chill on winter walks and on cold days in your draft manor house chambers. This dress shows that it's how you wear a piece that counts and could never be described as matronly in the unkind way. The next two looks to the right turn the dial up on sexyiness taking the collection into a night mood. These looks channel the excesses of Ancient Rome and the later Venetian carnivals and Masques. I think you could tame most Lions in these dresses miaoowww.
The white and black colour palette of the early part of the collection is gradually broken up with red entering the Spectrum to dazzling effect. With hints of Harlequin playfulness ready for the Holiday Season this look is not for the shy, or maybe it is as will draw many compliments. Evoking another renaissance theme the ribbon lattice of the sleeves of the next dress breaks up the colour of the main black body of the dress and with the jewellery characteristic of the collection giving accent to the fabric emblazoned with echos of ermine detail. The full length black dress echos the simple habit of the nun or postulant but also resembles the pious simplicity of clothes worn by aristocratic women in this period who where supposed to modest, demure and submissive to their husbands. Their plight is truly tragic. However we owe them a debt of gratitude for the style and dignity that lead them to be so inspirational. The intricacy of lattice work design offers huge scope for variation and and whether across the body of the outfit or highlighting the decolette and shoulder area there is huge scope for sexing up the traditional styles and giving them a feel of the here and now. Intricate pin-dot detail in the next puff skirted dress is an ode to style codes blending looks across several centuries effortlessly and creating a chic. It's another perfect party look for the autumn-winter season and it would be fantastic accessorised with a long floor trailing cape should you be out in the depths of winter.
As the looks move more towards pieces accented to evening-wear, more colours enter the palette. A beautiful burnished golden jacket and shorts comprise the first look above to the left with patterned tights and knee length boots. Floor length dresses are a must for Winter Season balls and the golden brocaded dress to the right is a simplified model of understatement sweeping with majesty across the floor. Purple, the ancient colour of Royalty due to the expense of dying materials in that colour from shellfishes, makes a bold entrance in an unmistakable regal dress that actually wouldn't have been possible in previous centuries due to the expense of the dye. The lustre of the fabric perfectly captures the luxury and opulence that this collection is seeking, note the ruching detail at the high, mid and low waist points across the hips. It's a regal piece that is also worthy of being worn in a film as well as by a client. Next two semi sheer dresses have a light delicacy that could see them looking perfect in early autumn or into very early Spring. The second dress in particular is one that I would chose for myself with a beautiful Rose motif running across the surface like a living vine. A boyish theatrical turn in the next piece evokes the Elizabeth era actors and dandies with the delicacy of feminine lace running across the surface of the outfit and flattering the silhouette. This is a Prince charming outfit for any girl to wear to the ball herself. There are some hints of former season collections here but each is given a fresh new twist.
The long line dress takes on a new form in the shimmering piece above left with the twinkling shimmer of burnished gold running down the full body of the dress. Floor length glamour is always a good idea for a winter evening or formal event. There's just something very complete about it that says 'perfection'. The floor length black dress and following open dress coat both play with the same colour themes and in an inversion of styling. One dress opaque in black, another sheer in white. Shoulders puffed in design or close to the figure. The trailing coat theme in the next look is another variation on the preceding style adding the hint of ermine in reversed colour schemes.
Mixing the antique with the new the lattice style translates into a contemporary dress design to the right with the lattice lines running criss cross across the figure in a look that's totally contemporary. A great piece to wear at parties and I can imagine wearing this through new year. In another re-invention of a heritage type look the lines flecks of the ermine become the detail of the ankle length jacket that appears above to the right. Looking strikingly modern it appears with a light sheer dress to give and an extra layer playing with smart juxtaposition.
As the collection headed further on the gowns became more luxuriant, large and bolder in their statements. Below left two beautiful pieces express the mastery of the atelier in ways that would frankly never have been possible in the Renaissance era. With words of love and harmony lightly embroidered across her chest this model looks every inch the contemporary Haute Couture client. Next to the right a dress with hints of burlesque in the lines running across the bodice with delicate embroidery at the collar, cuffs and a two stage hem drawind the eye across the figure. 'Regal' gets taken to the next level with the next look adapting both the ermine collar and red robe length in Valentino Rossi to create an unmissable piece. Chevron detail seen here at the decollete appears in several places in the collection and is a tantalising hint towards heraldry. Next to the right the flowing red gown is pure Valentino as we know i season in and season out and this dress is one of the feature styles that clients will come to Valentino hoping to find. To close the show the Bride wore a stupendous scarlet cape over her puff ball dress. Trimmed with an out-sized collar she is ready to attend the grandest Masques in Venice or Rome.
Valentino well and truly took us to the ball this season and as always it was a pleasure to be a guest.
Alexis Mabille celebrates beauty, innocent female beauty in his work and this season his offering stayed true to his vision. The Autumn-Winter 2016/17 season presentation was larger than in previous seasons cramming in demand from clients, buyers, stylists and journalists was intense and there was a very appreciative reception for his designs. Showing on the catwalk away from the intimacy of the salon this show was staged on a higher profile footing with well known professional models feeling that maybe Mabille has broken a feel of seclusion that has been in his work in the past and this was not a bad thing.
He opened this series of twenty three passages with a romantic harmony of pastels embracing a sweet sense of beauty with a nod to bucking convention and a glance to street style. Haute Couture is the epitome of fashion in it's technique and craftsmanship realised by the most skilled hands in the world but this doesn't mean that it has to be complicated. Indeed it's the simple beauty that gives great power to these collections. Bows perfectly aligned to accentuate the the female figure at the waist, hips and bodice the opening passage in delicate light blue set the scene for a harmony of colour and delicacy. Next to the right a soft lemon gown with cape cleverly accentuated the natural curve of the hips with cut away detail at the shoulders giving frame and form to the design. This is another piece that may appear simple to the eye at first but is very clever in it's construction.
As with most of Mabille's work these are classic evening wear pieces that will be cherished in a collection. Putting a twist on simplicity a bolero bomber jacket accessorises the gown above in white satin providing a gentle texture contrast with applique blues and pinks in the skirt. It looks like contemporary and not too off beat and challenging for clients. Still the curve of the hips maintains the focus of lines in this garment while the puffs of the jacket sleeves and elasticated cuffs quietly compliment the effect. The off the shoulder white bolero cut gypsy blouse addition to the upper part of the light blue dress is another example of a modern fairy-tale Haute Couture look that will appeal broadly to clients. With twin accents on the decollete and the hips descending into a beautiful sheer embroidered lower skirt it captures the cool clear winter dawns that Mabille gave as one of his reference points for the collection. Taking the beauty fantasia a step further in the next look above to the right ruffles encircle the bodice of the model in the lightest reverie of dawn. Again a gentle contrast of ruffles and embroidery doesn't look over stated and sits in harmony creating a masterful composition of Parisienne Haute Couture.
A more bohemian element emerges in the first outfit above to the left from Mabille's palette moving into a light mauve with folds draped across the figure from beneath a belted waist. Her shoulders are covered allowing for maximum movement in the diaphanous flow of the piece. A passage of less structured but no less exquisite taste that brought the composure of Grecian goddesses to the catwalk much to the approval of the audience. The decollete returns in a soft heart shaped bodice completed with flowers framed by the delicate escallop cups. A work of beauty and loving craft in itself and perfectly proportioned to emphasise the simplicity of feminine beauty. A jacket tied at the waist across the the hips of the light blue satin floor length skirt hints at a desire to put a spin on convention and style that will appeal to younger or rebellious clients. Shimmering with the light of a blue dawn the lengths take on a luminous iridescence of their own light. Next a piece that emphasises the finest skills of Paris's Haute Couture. Embroidered from shoulders to floor, in beautiful delicate flowers that climb across the surface of the fabric framing the female form it's a another ode to the female figure. Flowers echo the hourglass shape of the natural curves of a women's figure in a naturally flattering design. It makes a poetry of the figure beneath and celebrates women as Mabille believes they should be. It shows again to me how truly clever Mabille is in his power to design the most phenominal compositions that just simply look 'right'.
Centre above one of the dresses that many clients still desire to order from Haute Couture Houses in Paris and look for each season. With his dedication to a soft feminine beauty he can be relied upon to produce a feminine fantasy of the proportion ostentation that we expect to see. This soft bodice with it's nod to traditional corsetry descends into a mille feuille of embroidered lace and tulle. This is a dream ball gown for the Autumn and Winter season that will tick the boxes for the fairy-tale princess experience, and proof against the Winter night air. Also channeling the fashion legacy of the eighteenth century French Queen Marie Antoinette, it's a piece that will capture the glaze and make onlookers speechless. To the right another passage that plays with twists on conventional style with satin and lace composing different parts of the bodice before descending to Mabille's Haute Couture update to the Rara skirt of the 1980's. The Icey grey and pink fingers of dawn dip into the delicate colour palette. This will look great on the red carpet, while also perhaps channeling memories of dresses from childhood or adult life a few decades ago this is a fun piece still sensible enough to be worn at any high society black or (many) white tie occasions the world over for Mabille's clients.
First above a blush-ivory satin gown plays with the idea of a very elongated shirt with a beautifully embroidered lace blouse with open collar descending to a full length satin skirt. Framing the catwalk itself the contrasting textures of blouse and skirt are not over powering and the warm rays of first light are captured in the colour of the gown. Another look that emphasises why clients still come to Paris from all over the world to buy Haute Couture. Centre above a full length white silk satin dress appears to be emulating the coat dress in Haute Couture. Pristine in white this look dazzles stating pure femininity with some traditional lines of form. The ivory dress to the right with it's heart shape sculpted bodice edged in ribbon-like seem sits softly on the figure. Tied with a bow just above the waist and close to the heart it's a dress imbibed with romance. It shows Mabille playing with a more formal vision of structure and design. Bare shouldered and in a colour that many women will find easy to wear, this is a classic piece of elegance from a Parisienne atelier and another look that would work very well for a black/White tie or Red Carpet walk in front of camera.
With rainbow pops of colour, the dress above descends in a harmony of four notes beginning with gold on the decollete moving through ivory, mint and then to icy blue. A double coloured bodice and skirt offer a bolder way to explore the colours of Mabille's early dawn. Peplums in mint at the waist and ice blue with faux fur fringing in the skirt are never overpowering. Mabille fully achieves the creation of a desirable party gown within the framework of the collections tastes and nuances. To the right a low waisted white dress fringed in a light champagne sees gentle pintuck detail at the hem offering a simple nod to femininity and an echo to the simple designs worn in childhood. The effect is more charming than naive while a halter neck bodice with an out-sized ribbon bow tied at one side descending to the lengths of the skirt offers extra femininity.
Next a look that is one of my personal favourites capturing the simple grace and beauty in classic form that this collection hopes to achieve. The dipped hem opus to female virtues in gold with the ruffles of the lower neckline echoed in the curves of the hem is close to being overtly cute as several other pieces in the collection are. Belted highly a the waist to accent the silhouette the expanse of fabric envelopes the wearer. This passage could have become doll-like but instead it speaks of feminine strengths and while another sure hit for the red carpet as well as private parties, it's styled generously also to the figure as a piece that would also suit expectant clients too. The gold full length broad skirted dress makes a feature of the pockets cleverly hidden through much of the collection. Iridescent with a metallic sheen that features in much of the collection referencing the work of the late artist Cy Twombly, for me this is a piece showing the bold golden rays of daylight making the woman shine like a goddess. This collection was a triumph of simplicity and a natural sense of beauty, not over complicated and judging by reactions of the crowd new and familiar with Mabille it was an absolute delight and what we expect to see in Paris.
Resolute in her sexyness and for the House of Versace, Donatella took things in a different direction this season showing that she had for more to offer the than overt sex appeal. She incorporated more suggestions of the bohemian for Autumn-Winter 2016 and also new slightly more utilitarian designs re-worked in Versace House style of luxury. In places she also supplemented the gypsy-like vibes that have appeared in the past adding also a little hint of Japanese chic from the east. Half-obe ties around the waist greeted our eyes with a colour palette mixing both bolder and more gentle colours. More than this though Donatella showed there was still a designers hand behind Versace that could change gear and set off on a new journey.
As Karen Elson walked out onto the runway opening the show on a quick break from her busy schedule in the Music industry we where greeted with a 'cold-shoulder' belted coat in blush pink with inverse mint green lining sitting on top of a red satin dress with bodice. This struck a chord and all seemed to coordinate well and feel familiar whilst also taking a new step. The look was completed with shoes in pink accented with lilac appearing through the collection in bursts to weave the colour palette together. Next re-working this theme in a black and trouser lined again in clear mint the tonal play on colour focuses the eye very much on the details of style. Swathing fabric is very much a key theme at Versace and the detail around the lapels and under the belt of the waist This IS understated sex appeal at it's best.
Centre above the scarlet open trench coat was another new feature from Donatella showing us that she had more than one surprise waiting for us. Trimmed with an ice blue seem and sitting over a light lilac dress this also showed a new casual urban sexyness that we hadn't seen recently from Versace and it was well liked. The trouser suit in blacked accented with lilac, platinum and black flourishes is a statement red carpet look like many of the collection. To the right Versace showed variations on previous themes with asymmetric sashes becoming trains of the gowns sweeping broadly belong the catwalk with a luxuriant emphasis of quality and design. Woven around tight fitting black dresses this appears like an imagined combination of the scarf joining with a dress and billowing in the wake of the wearer. These are strong statement looks and we wouldn't expect anything else from Versace.
Switching the asymmetric round to a full silhouette the mint green trouser suit with full trailing skirt had the hall marks of Versace style from previous seasons but re-worked in a new way. With a neck scarf woven in to the dress on one side of the bust and plumes of ruffles across the other the main bodice was formed with a wrapped ribbon shape with the full elongated Haute Couture silhouette. The chic pretty cocktail dress next to the right takes a different approach to structure from the past again with different panels of colour crossing each other like sashes; have you ever twined silk scarves around you to make a dress in a playful moment? This is fun piece that doesn't take itself too seriously and also packs a style punch. The next floor length gown in black oozes pure glamour and sets the pulse racing in terms of what can be achieved with simple attention to draping in terms of creating a striking effect in one colour. Again with a hint of the Japanese silk kimono and black obe waist band this is a centre stage piece to wear to an event this winter. In a blaze of tri-colour black, red and blue the next look to the right has a punchy party feel ready for the lead up to the festive season but again is another look that will do well in front of the camera for anyone with red carpet and public appearance commitments. Like it's scarlet companion to the right it has impact and the stamp of Versace personality without being as overtly sexy as maybe in the past, that is by Versace standards of course and it still packs a punch.
With a red sash tied around in a vague echo of royal style over a blue sequinned mini dress this outfit will have the party season all wrapped up. You can rule the dance floor in this. Next to the right a look emphasising the full skirt takes a new look at accenting the backing in lilac with an under layer of the dress. With a peplum at the hips to add an extra flourish it's something new. The black dress centre above accented with mint and lilac deploys the cold shoulder style again to beautiful effect with a sash tie at the waist adding another rippling flourish. A blush pink and mint raincoat threw in another surprise to the collection and was well received. It was different but looked in keeping once more, another bold success and one very translatable across the Versace client base I would imagine. The lilac and gold passage to the right utilises a combination of highly skilled embroidery and draping. This was one of my favourite looks of the collection alongside it's blush rose pink and black neighbour. This gorgeous mini dress places emphasis on the pink bow sash tie at the waist, dare I say it like a present waiting to be unwrapped perhaps, it's a very glamourous look that will turn heads and help you have the best time. Note how the colour nuances of the bow also cleverly balance the 'cold shoulder' too in a slight reversal of the opening look minus the mint?
Layered styles dominates the closing looks of the collection taking the idea of thin ribbon strips and exploring whole heartedly. The look above to the left with it's curved folds accentuates the females curves to the maximum, something that Versace has never shied away from and in fact built it's reputation around. Strips and tassels in the dress to the right add a shifting volume to the thigh split of the dress and also echoing a stencil like cut-out design across the bodice and upper skirt. The black dress again plays with an open form of structure with ribbons intertwined forming a lattice effect that sweeps around the figure. Classically sexy again the Versace style but still showing a feel for doing something different. Above to the right the mint dress with it's metallic glint and works the classic pattern of the thigh-split Versace dress with varying design flourishes. To the far right this style is transformed in a stripe like effect with black underlay combining with the pink. It's a colour combination that I personally adore as readers may well know. Donatella took Versace to a new place this season and I'm sure it will be well loved by the Versace faithful.
Sergeenko is part of the rare, but growing as I understand, breed of Russian's who following being an established Haute Couture client go on to take their first steps in fashion design and progress to the launch of their own label. Below you can see some of her eclectic offering for the Autumn-Winter 2016-17 season and I personally don't think that eclectic is necessarily a bad thing at all for a designer. It's up to you how you do it, it's the clothes and how relevant the style feels to your audience that are the deciding factor.
Above you can see the opening look of a black dress styled with mannish loafers like much of this collection. It's not overtly evening wear, but it could be, it could also be worn to the office for business meetings or to social functions. The crocodile skin satchel hints at a working lifestyle but who's to say you can't take your satchel anywhere? The next look in three different shades of tweed and grey I believe is a rhapsody of fabric adoration. This shows a designers knack for wanting to explore a medium and create more from it. The outfit is urbane and chic and highly adaptable to a leisure or working environment and some women who buy Haute Couture in Paris will also be women who have working lives as well. Print designs on dresses and bobbed hair cuts point to the inspiration of the 1960's for style and mood. An era when women could experience increasing freedoms and independence in their lives and where more likely to travel independently in the world (outside of the ranks of the very wealthy who always traveled) working both the cold shoulder dress and a two piece blouse and skirt these designs offer great flexibility and could be worn this season easily in many geographies. The faux fur coat centre above with it's little Kangaroo emblems hints at adventure and far away places where the women of the jet set have horizons much broader that the Haute Couture collection shows that they frequent as a matter of course for the diary. To the right a beautiful cocktail breaks in with a touch of formality and a look that you could wear to black tie events and formal occasions in most countries.
The white dress to the right above with it's high collar and bare arms also gently nods to the 60's while setting it's own style mode. The long line grey trouser suit with faux fur trimmed collar and teeny boite matching clutches in duo (a first perhaps) also adds another style twist to a conventional outfit. This floral print looking a little like traditional block prints is also echoed in the dress to the far right. The faux fur coat to the centre with more animal designs around the hem like it's counterpart is another fresh idea that hints at woman who's well traveled and has an appreciation for the wider world as well as life of taste and luxury. Striking in scarlet in the centre the dress emulates the collar detail of the first look of the collection off set by golden shoes. Strong floor length looks in black with a slightly renaissance feel to them, especially the dress so a detailed interest in fabric and to my eyes at least carry tones of Russian heritage through them.
Haute Couture is known as the stuff of dreams but for many people it's a practical reality of their wardrobe or as a student of fashion or journalist each season brings a new window on this part of the industry. One essential thing that all collections need to provide their audience of clients and journalists is a good number of Haute Couture dress alternatives that will work as fantastic party wear. To the left a chic party piece composed of a dress in two contrasting layers gives both shimmer and print while the following floor length designs are the peak of femininity flowing as the wearer walks. Sparkle and shimmer is key through much of the collection as in the next designs, silver beckoning party season and New Year and a beautiful black dress with sheer gauze slightly enveloping the shimmer below. The models look like enchantresses walking into a room at a party and there are many serviceable looks here that will thrive on the red carpet. Another pick for me would be the long shimmering salmon pink passage to the far right that closed the show. Diaphanous and beautiful it gently cloaks the figure but also flatters the wearer underneath showing the female form as she moves. It's been a wonderful first few seasons for Sergeenko and many including myself are very curious to see where the future will take her.
Paris opened it's doors to welcome the international coterie of clients and fashion press to see another season of beautiful offerings. Slowly but surely the Haute Couture schedule, once thought to be in jeopardy (but not by me) is growing with more petites mains than ever crafting the most luxuriant clothes in the world.
For autumn-Winter 16 the Lebanese designer showed that his flair for sparkle showed no signs diminishing with collection that showed his detail that showed his determination the bring Haute Couture of the highest possible beauty aesthetic to his clients returning and new. I feel that Haute Couture in it's present guise broadly falls into two camps in terms of very broad themes amongst designers. There are designers taking a more experimental approach in defining a House style that looks overly contemporary and challenging to traditional ideas of large gowns and dresses and Haute Couture that seeks to make fresh shapes and style re working classic silhouettes and long lines, essentially Haute Couture that would look like Haute Couture to someone who viewed the collections 50
years ago but with modern refinements of style and taste bringing it into the 2010's. I think that Murad falls into the latter and there's nothing wrong with this at all. There are plenty of clients who are seeking to buy this most beautiful classic type of fashion and they are returning to Paris in greater and greater numbers now with many more watching keenly from their homes around the world. This seasons offering opened in black with lace work weaving and intimate spell across the figure and nods to the antique era's of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras gave cues to definition of symmetry. The lace doesn't quite stray into gothic or 'too heavy' in appearance and carries itself lightly with an air of romance moving with an effortless glide. The long line look in the centre is repeated through the collection in several permutations of different colours and is an intriguing blend of floral's patterning across the figure. It's seductive and pretty and could be a very loved piece of your collection. Murad does experiment with his theme of layers and the sheer netted fabrics add a touch of nor to the looks. In a style twist also seen at Ralph & Russo he brought hats to the Haute Couture catwalk in a particular wide brimmed style, I may be a biased Brit but I see a slight echo of Catherine Duchess of Cambridge's wide brimmed hat that she wore in her shoot for the Vogue 100 cover.
The colour pallet for this collection begins with black, traditionally the colour of luxury as it was one of the most expensive and difficult to produce and indicated a very high status women in past centuries. It them moves to the richest of scarlet reds bringing a light of it's own. Above to the left a floor length passage styled with a coat over nude dress is perfectly proportioned to give a balanced line to form and style. Encrusted with crystals it trails the floor with the embroidery of both dress and coat making a seem-less collective harmony across the women's body. The simple contrast of the nude dress and the deep crimson coat show both delicacy and the outer strength that the wearer sows to the world. Above to the right a floor length broad skirted dress carried to show the beautiful detail woven across the three banded layers of the piece. It's the precision of detail in this look that defines it as Haute Couture to the naked eye when seeing it for the first time. The looks next that cling close to the figure showing the form of curve over the hips and floral works seemingly growing across the surface of the skin as a Rose grows up a trellis emphasise natural beauty, as the bodice appears to open with the breasts remaining hidden, you can see with clarity how Murad has cloaked the figure of the so lightly.
Haute Couture generally is very light to wear on the figure and is reason for being is the preferred form of fashion that is fitted to the highest possible standards. Next the plum coloured looks show a great diversity with frilled ruffled layers cinched by a belt then a lattice woven piece split high above the knee offering a sultry elegant almost 'Bond Girl' look. To the right a floor sweeping gown with a cape like train follows the vein of skirted dresses show by Ralph & Russo in part following the style that many international clients of Haute Couture look to add to their wardrobes.
For an Autumn-Winter collection the palette moved through to lighter colours that shows that winter doesn't have to be dark. The Damask Rose piece above to the left set with crystals covers the figure discreetly in a way that would be appropriate across many territories as many of the looks do. It's a soft and pretty way to glide into autumn and colour always looks good against a dark sky. The aubergine side split dress with billowing skirts is a red carpet classic look that could be worn for a premier or awards. The folded hooped skirt of the dress centre carries a 1960's style vibe when worn with the hat. This is a brilliant passage to dance and party in and will move well on the dance floor. Above to the right the floor length gown is imaginative in it's display of flowers running across the surface of the fabric. This is a gown that really has the fairy tale factor with a generously proportioned hem that will move beautifully if you are dancing in it. To the right the fresh shimmer of green heralds the rich lushness of evergreen trees and furs that we see in the winter and the shimmer from the crystal applique. The close fitting dress and the broad skirted dress are both odes to femininity one more sultry and the other more Queenly echoing traditional dimensions of 18th century Court dress and proportion.
Beautiful light light green continues to weave it's spell with hints of a light lilac-blue blending with this green before taking the lead. It's an electric colour and will brighten up a room as soon as you walk in. With shoes perfectly complementing this collection it's one of the most beautiful I have seen from Murad and one that is the most playful in exploring different angles of femininity. The lilac flowers flowing across the surface of the green dress is a particularly striking combination employing contrasting hues. Next to the right the dramatically dipped hem contrasting mini skirt and flowing train length. This in keeping with the collection is a statement piece. The beautiful looks to the right weave a spell on the audience and are pared beautifully to the figure creating a wonderful light sense of movement. You could be happy in any of these over the Christmas or New Year period or a party for any reason. I think it's a beautiful colour that really draws the eye in and doesn't look cold in any way with the touch of lilac, it will suit all skin tones.
A light sky blue appears next in the colour palette echoing the clear skies of mid winter. Flowers again beautifully cross the surface of the fabric showing the detail and mastery of craftsmanship that is employed in creating an Haute Couture garment setting it apart from Ready to Wear in it's time and preparation in composition. These passages represent the ultimate statements in light feminine dressing, no shock or surprises just a steady slow of garments that will suit the professional or society needs of many women who call upon the services of Haute Couture to add to their wardrobe collections.
Rounding out the collection in a delicate Champagne Ivory before moving to the Bridal piece to close the collection is a gentle stroll through the later part of the offering. In a cross between influences of earthly nature and the heavenly stars Murad works natural themes skillfully into his creations. The shine and lustre are pure Haute Couture but what Murad is also continuing is the detail and attention to craft in continuing to send out Haute Couture passages that require many hours of skilled work to create them. The bridal gown in itself is a fitting testament to what Murad aims to create preserving the advanced skills if the petits mains in Paris with the hints and inspirations that echo from his homeland of the near east.