Haute Couture in Paris in January is always one of the first great bright moments in the fashion year.
A Blush of Rose
Atelier Versace opened Haute Couture week in Paris with another confident display of their trademark Goddess style. Lady Ga Ga was in attendance supporting Donatella who many note she's grown very close to in recent years. As a young friend and unofficial 'Face' of the House Ga Ga has become a fixture in the Versace firmament. She also gave the audience possibly the catchiest sound tracks of Haute Couture fashion week. "Blonde, rich and a bit of a bitch", so rang out the lyrics from Donatella's self-titled soundtrack.
The first look of the collection above launched the show in true Versace style. A classic woman's suit tailored closely to the figure. This black suit used two key features of some of the pieces early in the collection such as the slash-cut wrap and the lapels of the jacket opening across the chest. The beautiful beaded cowl forming part of the jacket as it sweeps down to the front fastening continues the playful idea of the sequined embroidered skirt.
In it's own way it's a relatively simplified design and as with the following two looks, it's very flattering to the figure. The white suit also works the white and gold look. Following the trend of cutting close to the figure these looks set to define the narrow waist and curve of the hips. I also feel they hint at two influences I've seen before in Donatella's Haute Couture work with echos of the Egyptian and Near Eastern structured angular style. It adds to the power and strength of the design.
Well, for some that may be true, but Donatella's wing span is much broader amongst the ranks of international women who are loyal and drawn to her own established incarnation of Versace high glamour style.
The look closest to the left of this text typified the early part of the collection to me. The Model looks liken a lady warrior knight but also at the same time, utterly Angelic. I think it's the Golden chain mail partially veiling the head and shoulders that does it. The fur coat and cube designed belt bring this coat in the 21st century club land.
The dress above is also pretty striking and shows a striking use of pattern imitating the bodies bone structure in the upper area and then dropping down into a completely contrasting non-sheer silver skirt of the gown.
Cleverly this look reveals nothing except for the curves around the figure. I think the shimmer of the silver draws the eye to the model even more. The moves like a quick-silver spirit on the catwalk.
The looks to the left are some more fabulous creations from Versace that will address any girls needs for high glamour.
The three looks above burn brightly with colour and have the full show-stopping Versace high voltage impact that we have come to know and love so well over the years. Dresses trail the floor and will make a great entrance at any public or private event. Deep midnight blues are always popular but I think the bold use of orange and yellow give the collection and extra dash of wow.
The two gowns either side come later in the collection when the look is very much turning towards evening Haute Couture. Ice blue is a ravishing colour and I was very taken with the creation to the left. Using the cowl theme to add a little mystery to the look the dress flows down from the hips into a full flowing skirt with beautiful crimped detail. Again as a student of the ancient world I see a little similarity to the pleated linen skirts from Ancient Egypt transformed into a modern diaphanous floor length gown. The bracelets at each fore arm also continue the theme of line and symetry.
The House of Dior continues to build on it's strong foundation as one of the most influential Haute Couture Houses of the past century that now produces 21st Century Princess chic and takes it to the world via it's catwalks.
There is no doubting that Raf Simons has brought his own unique eye to Dior and looks clearly do reference the past with a considerable fresh twist. Here for Spring and Summer you can see the New Look of Christian Dior himself re-born with a new edge.
When you look at the dresses you can see structure and form taken from the traditional forms and structure of Haute Couture such as the arced decollete of the bodice and the closely applied layers of material to create simple gentle layering.
These looks in icey - baby blue, blush pink and champagne - white are layered with intricate applique of crystals. High splits feature prominently in many designs so great opportunity to show off those pins but there are many alternatives if you would like to leave something more to the imagination.
Again working around the theme of sashed and draping style and lots of pleats these looks carry high glamour in many forms.
Towards the later part of the collection another dress reverses the sheer embroidered theme seen above int he black and silver dress. With a tight minimalistic bodice and contrasting full skirt this look shows the amazing geometric detail that permeates the collection. This is a very striking look and one that may turn up in front of the cameras at events through the year. The light green dress in the center criss crosses the body in beautiful brush strokes and the last dress i had to bring you was the great finale. This look closed the show as a new style bridal piece. One I could se Lady GaGa in herself should she choose to take such a step.
Raf uses the polka dot theme on many of the looks in different forms. Used in print, or embellished a detail or as a pattern used in cut-away. The below series of looks illustrates the broad scope he's found with this idea. Raf has a huge amount of creativity stored up inside him and it's clear he's really enjoying his exploration and development of a new incarnation of the Dior style. Movement was a big theme that he worked with. Raf does pay homage to Dior and humbly said that this collection was designed to look partly how Dior's style would have progressed had he lived in subsequent decades. I think though that he under estimates his own creative re-awakening of the brand.
The first two dresses to the above left make a feature of using the frame that supports the skirts structure as an outer layer to complete the piece. Both looks use the idea of a heavily cut piece of fabric to illustrate the style. There's a young cute girlish vibe to the collection. I really liked the shorter cut-away style evening dresses and could see where Raf was going with the 1960s theme. In the looks above you can still see the key Dior themes of the tied bow ribbon at the waist in the black dress above. Also the new look form jacket that sat over the Bar Dress reappears in the black trouser suit above to the right. I'm really in love with the baby doll vibe that comes into the styles. I think that playing with the different lengths within the outfit shows a feeling of experimentation and challenging convention without being too un-orthadox.
At Dior the Rose has long held a special place in the heart of the House. It dates from the Childhood of Christian Dior as far as I am aware and echos the garden that he knew in childhood that his mother cultivated in Granville in Normandy. In 2010 the Chelsea Flower Show hosted a garden in memory of her influence on his career. The new-style suit above is a fresh take on a classic Dior theme and I think it's one of the most versatile pieces in the whole collection. It can be worn by a wide variety of clients of different ages and you could wear it to a broad variety of different events.
Next to it the sheer blush coloured dress is very fun and would be on my ordering list. A lot of women would look great in this and the use of one simple repeated theme in the composition makes a bold clear statement. Again the cut-away effect is used here at the hem. Center above the black shift dress uses the polka dot theme that's partially hidden underneath. A really great evening dress. Using texture again the last two looks to the left above also focus once more on using the flower motif. Both the trouser suit and the dress are a celebration of Haute Couture technique.
I've added some more dresses from the pastels part of the collection that play up to the traditional Dior themes while taking a fresh look at cut and texture. They are all light and bright in their form and structure and and interestingly several show references to the ceramic influence that Raf was quoted as using. Valentine Schlegel was cited as a key influence and the gentle colour schemes of his works chime well with the collection.
Again I'm a fan of the use of the traditional Dior motifs of the bow. Here it is used in the design of the dresses in tied and untied form. Another great collection from Raf keeping Dior in a strong market position.
One of the great talking points of Haute Couture week was the re-launch of Schiaparelli. With a 19 piece collection they made a simple start to put themselves back on the map in a meaningful way in Haute Couture. For most observers of the collection it was pretty easy to see that the House was being re-born in the unique image of it's founder.
Before I look at some of the individual pieces that caught my eye I just want to mention a couple of things about the collection that stood out for me overall. I noted that there where several pieces that where fully reversible garments that was a feature of some Haute Couture collections in former decades but seen much less today. This shows the high quality of the finish and the tailoring and is perfectly suited to displaying the work of a master atelier.
The next thing that I noticed was that this collection was composed of outfits that where all very unique. In most contemporary collections the looks move through moods and ideas with outfits following each other in sequence covering developing themes or ideas. This is the same in Haute Couture as in Ready to Wear.
The first look I chose to show was the bold piece worn by Stella Tennant. With striking hair and a very creative twist on the traditional Edwardian wide brimmed hat this bright off the shoulder floor length gown typifies the look is remembered as vintage Schiaparelli.
Marco Zanini is the creative Director that took over last September with the mission set down for re-awakening the fashion House. He's talked on many occasions about the enjoyment and inspiration he's had from looking at the formidable Schiaparelli archive and studying the life of the lady herself. As with all designers who come into a House after the founder of the label has moved on, it's a sensitive adjustment to both communicate and channel the tradition of a brand very closely identified with it's founder and also bring your own energies and vision to it.
The 1930s where a noted reference point for this collection. Use of long shapes drawing the eye to the elongation of the figure is a perfect place to begin for a Haute Couture collection.
To the left I've inserted a look at one of outfits in the collection where a key piece, a jacket, was inverted part way through the models walk to show how it could be worn from both sides.
This jacket shows more of the work with feathers that featured prominently throughout the collection.
The look above was my favourite from the collection. I think it's a wonderful play on the traditional summer beach outfit look, complete with twisted brim straw hat.
I love this peach coloured two piece with off-center bow on the bandeau bodice. It's a great look for a summer evening. Set off with the most wonderful trailing baby blue shoulder gown this contrast of composition within the outfit forms a really memorable piece.
The gown of this piece is, in my opinion a great stand alone item within the collection itself. It could be work fastened as a dress that would open up to the high leg or it could be mixed and matched with a number of different dresses. Truly stunning.
This was one of my favourite looks of the collection also and would serve you well for any black or white Tie event.
To the left is a striking look from the collection that channels that glamour of the orient and the tradition of use of gold in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. I like the effect of a meshed gold lattice forming the body of the dress and the front fastening zip gives a playful nod to contemporary utilitarian design.
Check out the fun shoes that have a fringed tropical leaf effect. The outfit is completed with a light floor length draped shawl and outsize gold ring.
The feather effect fly away hair returns in the look to the left with a contrast of blond and black in a chopped cropped look. The white mesh styled dress fits loosely to above the waist and flows down beautifully to the ground. I love the jacket with the out-size high volume sleeves and the bolero cut of the jacket. Very cool and really living up to the spirit of fun luxury that embodies this collection.
The pieces I've selected below also serve really well to illustrate the diversity of themes within the collection. I think it's natural when a House is brought back to life after half a century to through a lot of ideas at the page when you make a fresh new start. There's a faint gothic vampish mood in the air. The black dress below to the left with it's sash tie and many folded layers is a bohemian look that would make a great outfit for the day or the evening. Contrasting with this the lilac-white ball gown is another piece that challenges convention in the Schiaparelli fashion. With a light blouse upper section of the dress moving down to the full skirted voluminous dress. The next two looks are beautiful pieces to wear on a summer evening. I particularly like the light green and white combination int he look second to the left. Note the fun Schiaparelli arm bracelets that snake up the models arm. And lastly the bride enters ready to celebrate the triumph of the House's return.
Last Autumn my heart skipped a beat when I read that there would be a new British Couture House that would show on the official Haute Couture schedule in Paris. We have so many great fashion traditions in this country alongside being known as global innovator and incubator of talents. One of my pet wishes is that we in Britain can re-establish our presence in the Haute Couture domain in women's clothing where we once held a strong traditional of excellence and respect for many centuries.
The chambre syndicale de la Haute Couture elected Ralph & Russo to join it in 2013 and for me this was a quietly acknowledged significant landmark moment in British fashion in recent years. Ralph & Russo is the first and only British House ever to be given this honour.
Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo are the team who founded the label in 2007. Tamara, Creative Director has a strong natural talent guided by three generations of Couturier experience behind her in her family. When Tamara was in her mid teens in Australia she was already selling designs to Boutiques and establishing a Haute Couture clientele in the Sydney area. After completing her design studies in Sydney relocation to London was the next step. Together with Michael, who is CEO and a background in banking, both have a strong vision for turning Ralph & Russo into a global Haute Couture brand.
Their debut in Paris in January 2014 was greeted with heartfelt applause and I think it was a really lovely surprise for people to be able to see their work in Paris.
From the first range of looks above you can see that this young House is taking a very classic eye to design. Proportions and lengths are traditional. At the knee, mid calf or floor length with or without a train and slashed at the thigh. The first four looks across the top of this article are a breathtaking study of high couture design in just one colour. The first black dress to the left is a pretty phenomenal Haute Couture short dress. With the hat added it looks ready for a Wedding or a day at the Races, without the hat it's a very versatile piece for day or evening wear. The same could be said for the stunning white two-piece suit with black hat and black gloves. The embroidery detail on these and all the pieces in the collection is truly stunning and at least equals what any other couture atelier in Paris can produce. Tamara and Michael have strong principles and high standards. The couturiers who work for them have a minimum of 15 years experience before they can join the House.
The black gown next to the suits is a stunner this is a piece that can easily slip into a woman's collection and be worn and enjoyed into the future. The baby pink coat dress next to it to the right is my favourite look from the collection. Perfectly tailored, I love the rose swirled pockets resting over the hips.
Above the very intricate black jacket and ice blue dress is absolutely captivating. Again the embroidery and applique detail is perfection.The next three gowns all focus on high glamour and are the examples of the very highest creative reaches of Haute Couture. You can study each dress for quite some time and see so many different points of beauty.
The embroidery particularly the lace dentelle detail in the full length black dress is pretty unforgettable. I may have been musing but when I saw this collection I wondered if there was a Spanish influence in the designs. I can't put my finger on it precisely but I feel it's there.
The two looks above are light as a feather and fit the figure like a glove. I could see both being worn by women to high glamour international events or making a special impression in private away from any cameras. I expect to see both turning up in the press in the coming months. I love both of these looks but find the ice blue dress particularly captivating. The light hose underneath the skirt of the dress is an extraordinary piece of detailed craftsmanship in it's own right. Even the exquisite buttons at the calf are a perfect and practical detail to the look. It's a completely Angelic look.
Each of these dresses is stunning in it's own right and it's an absolute joy to study each of them in turn and really look at the detail. The baby pink sheer dress with bow detail above to the far left is really fantastic and I'm sure it will be a popular look from the collection. The baby pink suit plays with the use of the scrolling flower petal motif at the shoulders of the jacket expertly complimenting the form the close fitting belted dress beneath. As with the Coat dress above a perfectly coordinated little clutch bag accompanies the look and also a pair of bejeweled matching kid gloves. In the center of this range the salmon pink and blush pink dresses again show the tremendous talent that Tamara and Michael have at their finger tips both in Tamara's creative vision and the collection of skilled hands under their roof in the London atelier on Sloane Street.
The long white suit above to the right is extraordinary in it's detail even complete with kid gloves. Tamara and Michael's global vision for the House resonates in many of these looks, the white suit is an example of how truly versatile and international their appeal is.
I'm closing this look at Ralph and Russo's amazing Paris debut with a look at two dresses that continued to delight the happily stunned audience in the show. The scarlet red gown is what many people will identify with Haute Couture in terms of the proportions and impact that the look would have. I think the button detailing in the gloves is pretty noteworthy and lends the creation and extra edge.
Butterflies took center stage in this show and the salon Alexis showed in was turned into a fluttering paradise for this show. Alexis wasn't the only designer this season to pick up on the papillon theme but he gave it the most central place in his collection.
I felt there was a strong leaning towards bridal wear in this show. Most of the collection was resplendent in white and with extra touches of pillar candles placed around the room the mood was soft and romantic.
This season Alexis has simplified the number of ideas that he's playing with and gone deeper in terms of working with them. There is a plethora of devises that he uses to re-work the white gown. In the looks to either side he's feathers and elaborate gold brocade trim. For me the trim brocade is a wonderful Roman-style touch hat I think gives a lot of strength to the outfits. The butterfly's crown the brides and play and flutter in their hair.
Although there is a nod to tradition in these looks they are never staid. To close the show the bride wore a beautiful gown utilising the many layered ruffle theme elsewhere in the collection and a veil trimmed with very beautiful silver and lace applique. As the show closed there was strong applause, great warmth and appreciation for this first collection and many people are really looking forward to the future of Ralph & Russo.
Many of the looks in the collection share a common trait in form that the dresses take cutting close to the body. For most of the collection floor length gowns where on show in a series of delicate muted shades. There was just a hint of another influence in this collection as Alexis has been double hatting and working on a project with Swarovski crystal.
The first dress above to the left again channels the classical theme and draws on structures and form that are ancient and complex in their origin. The jeweled belted girdle of the dress breaks the line slightly and adds a majestic form to the look. The following two white and cream dresses leave mostly bare shoulders and a plunging decolette. This is high vamp glamour. For a modern bride it's still very acceptable and could be matched with a more formal veil.
The above dress second from the right has elaborate embroidered trim framing the silhouette. The last dress to the right above is one of the most boldly patterned of the collection. I love the design of the flower weaving across the body of the wearer.
The last two looks that I picked to feature again show the flexibility that Alexis found within his themes this season.
Most girls of any age who have more than a passing interest in fashion will have fallen in love with a Valentino dress at some stage. For me visiting their show room in Paris for the first time in place Vendome in 2011 was probably one of my landmark moments in developing my fashion awareness.
Taking the House into a new direction under their own headship the continued voyage into the future by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli continues to reveal a wealth of inspirational ideas and moments. For this Spring-Summer 2014 collection they chose to celebrate music with a collection of 55 dresses to celebrate 55 operas.
This felt like something fresh and different and the first dress opening the collection was annotated with a musical score running down the full length of the skirt. It was the score of Giuseppe Verdi from La Traviata.
The look above to the left uses a peplum at the synched waistline to enhance the curves of the model. To round up the look at the collection her is a piece to the right above modeled by Cara. In a light sand colour with butterfly patterning and carefully accented draping this was a very beautiful dress that would serve you well on a number of occasions. Swept back and dark looking, I thought Cara's hair looked pretty in this style. I really enjoyed this collection from Alexis and found it a fun contrast to the previous one.
The dress to the right has a beautiful scene from the Garden of Eden. The embroidery is exquisite and this is an outfit that you can wear and enjoy and also study in great detail. In particular I like the Stag and Doe detail close to the tree with Adam and Eve. The upper part of the dress is in the form of a sculpted sheer corset with a high angular neck and full length sleeves. I love the way the vine detail carefully demarcates the central lines of the figure.
The next series of dresses begins with a beautiful long camel brown dress with a Butterfly covered cape. It's sensational. Very unique and I think I'm right in guessing it celebrates the Opera Madam Butterfly. True to the dedication to the height of Haute Couture each of the innumerable Butterfly's embroidered onto this gown are individually crafted and each is hand finished beautifully. The next piece a sheer dress in midnight blue lace was my one of my favourite pieces of the collection. Midnight blue is one of the best colours for a delicate evening wear look and I love the fun composition of the sheer lace resting delicately on the figure. This is a piece that would suit many women and I've included a wide angle shot of the next look in the collection to show this piece from behind also.
In a colour contrast the next grey look is very demure and understated. The eye is drawn to the colour, cut and the tasseled fringe of the garment. High embroidery returns in the next look with a monkey's and Tigers doing a playful dance across the fabric. The look furtherst to the right above is a beautiful Byzantine-esque look. Draped in Golden cloth the wearer looks calmly regal but equally at home in a palace in desert climbs as in Europe.
With more than a nod to the deserts and savannah lands of Africa the first three looks above running from the left all speak of the wild. In each of these three looks I love the way that different tones and shades of sand-cream colour have been woven into the fabric echoing the natural shading of rock formations. It gives the looks a strong natural harmony with the earth patterns. The first look above to the left combines a fringed jacket with a beautiful sheer lace suit. Fitting the figure like a gentle glove this would be a beautiful piece of evening or day wear in it's own right with or without the jacket in overlay.
Next to it the long tunic dress cut high at the side has more of the beautiful tassel fringe detail that runs in this part of the collection. For me there are strong echos of First Nations of the Americas style here and for me as I find this one of the most beautiful indigenous culture styles, it's a real joy to see it find a place in high fashion. Looking to the two evening dresses to the side I really like both. Two very contrasting pieces but both would suit a variety of clients and figures. I could certainly see myself wearing the light salmon piece to an event this summer and the dark emerald green semi-sheer dress woven so spectacularly is a red carpet must also. You can see how light this piece will feel in the wearer and for a long-ish event on a warm summer evening it will serve you very well. Both are very beautiful creations to study.
Again picking up a slightly Byzantine-Romanesque theme in the designs above I picked these three looks from the left to show Maria and Pierpaolo seem to me to be playing with this traditional reference to structure. Starting in a light grey-teal, moving through light grey and then into bridal soft ivory these three looks typify the traditional work of the Haute Couture atelier that clients all over the world still come to rely on Houses such a Valentino for. The grey dress in particular has mesmerising applique detail. Any of these looks would find a very welcome home in any ladies collection of pieces. The center dress looking at a slightly bridal inspired piece is very beautiful This could be worn as an evening dress or reworked into a full length bridal gown. It's not too daring and I think would be very popular with a wide variety of international clients.
To the right I've included two looks that play with the traditional ballerina tutu form. Referencing the carnival of animals theme, the first is a swan princess and in blush colours and the next is a snake girl in muted rusted red colour. With their signature animals enveloping them they look like spirits of the imagination.
The ballerina skirt makes more appearances in as the collection moves on. The first look above to the left is one of my favourite of the collection. I love the use of many sheer layers built up and swirling over the figure. Working the theme in a more nocturnal slightly Gothic direction the next two looks see the models enveloped with Black butterfly and a climbing vine. Both are beautifully sheer and lightly composed to give the look a magical lightness as the models walked past. As though much of the collection these looks are paired up with beautiful ostrich skin shoes that gently fit the feet like gloves. The jungle called once more as the collection drew to a close and a few small gasps where heard in the audience as the last piece came out. Models are often described as stalking the catwalk but for this look it was the tiger himself that was on the prowl covering the full skirt of this dress as he moved through the under growth. Some people thought this collection was a little off-beat but I disagree. I think there is a good mixture of traditional Haute Couture gowns and occasion wear teamed up with many playful, unusual creative pieces to keep a wide variety of clients and devotees of the House very satisfied.
Armani made a strong statement for this collection and struck out boldly in honour of the muse, the late much celebrated Loulou de la Falaise. She was a very interesting woman with strong links in the UK and France and this collection looks particularly at the part of her life in the 1970s where she was spending a lot of time in Morocco.
It's all here, myth and magic surrounding a great lady set under the deep midnight-blue night sky of the desert's edges. The luxury of Haute Couture is a very good partner for the incredibly rich textile heritage of Morocco and north Africa and with a clear reference to Loulou and her esteemed group of travelers Loulou's essence is transformed into a 21st century manifesto spring and summer chic for Armani's international traveling clientele.
Armani have clearly found a feast of inspiration within Loulou's world to offer to their clients. Even when weaving a collection around one central colour theme there is myriad of different designs on offer all in reflection of the night sky. Ubiquitous in many different is the head scarf. Adapted into many different forms this both gives a strong nod to the region and hints at the wandering gypsy nature that Loulou always said was part of her spirit.
The looks above feature a wide variety of North African referenced pieces. The first look to left above with the over-sized scarf/wrap at the shoulders of the model is a bold statement look paired perfectly with loose Harem pants. The ice blue jacket tied delicately high above the waist is a very captivating piece. The next two dresses use the simple sash-tie motif again in the constituency of the outfit and with a nod to hippie-simplicity and Arabesque tradition they hug the figure gently. The next off the shoulder dress is a conventional western style ball gown that looks amazing. Again inserting the Peacock feather emblem that appears through much of the collection delicately in at the waist.
The jacket in the second look to the right to me speaks of Egypt and I see a strong Pharonic design there and the combination of the jacket with it's gold trim sitting on top of the skirt that moves with a great shimmer is truly magical. The last look to the right is sensation and that is also another piece that was one of my very favourite.
This series of looks are an absolute delight. The heavily embroidered midnight blue dress to the left above is a piece of heaven. It's a simple design that many women could collect and wear for a number of years for a variety of occasions. Definitely a versatile piece that would work well in many different ways in the years to come. The second design to the left in a slightly lighter blue is more free flowing and A-line working with the figure in a slightly different way. The two central dresses channel the north African theme again more closely as they work in cultural emblems and cloak the figure in fabric.
To the right the two looks utilising the full sparkle of Swarovski crystals in the fabric of the design are very chic and manage to create a bridge in style between Eastern tradition and the influence of contemporary western clothing on global fashion. You can see subtleties of where two worlds meet in a bright shimmer. Flowing downwards are the diaphanous skirts that cloak the curves and float on the air that surrounds the lady as she walks. Just peeping out beneath you can see the sandals and slippers that delicately wrap the feet.
As the collection moves on the light of the Silver moon shines down and this is the next mood colour after the beauty of the night sky.
I chose these four looks as they where really fantastic. Each has a magical shimmer about them. The first to the left has a flowing light skirt sitting underneath a closely sculpted bodice.
Next to it the highly embroidered one-piece suit gleams with blue crystals and a touch of the night sky returns in these and the blue of the necklace. I also loved the baguette shaped purse that accompanied it again
by jewels reflecting the image of the night sky. The last two looks offer two two possible different variations of a bridal. Again in Shimmering silver like a moon goddess Armani's must cuts a sharp figure on the cat walk before she heads off to her Spring and Summer adventures out in the world.
So we all know that Jean-Paul Gaultier loves his show girls and this season he's chosen to celebrate them and the wonderful world of cabaret once again. As with Alexis Mabille and a couple of other designers in Haute Couture week he picked up on the current Butterfly trend and ran with it in a variety of forms both in the design of the clothing an in the hair and beauty styling.
I picked these first three looks from the collection for dramatic impact. Brimming with sexiness and glamour these looks will make a strong impact and get you noticed, in a room, on a red carpet or where ever you chose to wear them.
They're also very fun while keeping to relatively simple themes of line, form, structure and style. Note the Butterfly veils hovering over the eyes and in the hair of the models. Secretly mysterious and sexy the woman partly masques her eyes from the world. I particularly like the first look that works the jacket of the ladies suit into a Butterfly shape by tapering and synching in the fabric at the waist. Above elbow gloves add to the dramatic glamour and raise the pitch of the mood.
I always like the Magenta and Black colour combination and the look to the below right is one of my pics from the collection. The combination of the black butterfly woven in the models hair and the many ruffled layers of fabric, like a petti-coat on the outside look very striking. I love the composition of the look as the outfit moves and undulates as she walks. In contrast the next look is restrained and two-tone in black and white. This a city girl outfit you could wear in the day or an evening to an event or a private dinner, or around town and look discretely glamorous. I've included a close-up of the models hair to the right as it was truly a beautiful piece of art work in itself. The next two dresses in vibrant marine blue and very special orange really caught my eye as well. The blue is a relatively understated dress while the orange was one of my favourite looks of the collection. Working beautifully with the models own complection it's a confident and beautiful display.
The next series of looks are a bit wild and fun. This is definitely the world of the Burlesque in all it's glory and JPG's girls are here to start the party. The sheer dress below left is pretty captivating and again you can see the butterfly's crowning the models hair in a flurry of activity. The butterfly is transposed onto the next piece and comprises the main body of the look. Mageneta and black make another re-appearance in the next two looks that Iselected. Jean-Paul plays with one of his favourite themes in the corset in the center piece with a very structured look working around models figure. Changing direction in the next piece a simplified mesh design overlaying the bold colour of the dress brings the fish-net stocking theme to greater prominence. Lastly all in black and with a little bit more edge the look to the right plays with angles and lines of the corset once more with dramatic high plumes replacing the butterflys in this particular look.
A little more experimentation with blue emerges and net-mesh theme appeared again. I liked the hint of revelation in the look to the below left set off again with formal gloves and high plumed feathers. The pom-pom petticoat the trails the ground. More Butterfly's emerged from the back-stage chrysalis to flutter down the catwalk and the two looks JPG worked around that theme below where very strikingly different.
We all know of JPG's background in BDSM related fashion and his experimentation with the theme over the years. The black dress to the right below works this theme strongly with a contrasting puff-ball base to the skirt giving a more playful innocent accent on the style.
Once more working the Butterfly theme boldly the piece above to the right is another strong celebration of the creative talents of the Gaultier atelier. As with the look above to the center, don't let the bold striking often slightly naughty themes occlude the sight of the detailed high sewing (Haute Couture) that is present in many of the looks that are in the collection. Amidst this riot of colour Jean-Paul takes his Haute Couture as seriously as any of the other designers showing during this week.
Below is another look in green and gold again using high needlework to create a spectacular piece this look is a work of art. Looking to the dress in the center composed of many chain of beads this plays with the mood theme of the dancer's dressing up box. I think it would be a very striking piece to be work to an event and for someone in the public eye it would be a show-stopping piece. Almost lastly is Jean-Paul's bride in all her show-girl glory. In her high platformed heels and plumed veil she must be over seven feet tall.
Lastly it wouldn't be right to mention one of Jean-Paul's dearest friends Dita von Teese who closed the show and looked absolutely radiant in the wonderful creation that Jean-Paul dressed her in. She is girl who did a lot ot revive modern Burlesque and bring it to a new audience. Her influence and cross over with JPG's world is very strong and I look forward to seeing her celebrated in many more of his future collections. Very beautiful and yes, very sweet.
I hope you enjoyed my look at Spring - Summer 2014 Haute Couture week in Paris. Besides the stunning collections themselves there are some key takeaways to really feel happy about. There is now a British House on the schedule in the form of Ralph & Russo and for me I really feel this is a landmark. Secondly the Haute Couture part of the fashion world has done a very skillful 'volte face' since the period about 3 or 4 years ago when many where seriously concerned for the survival of this part of the fashion industry. The number of Houses is steadily growing and there is a growing demand for Haute Couture across the world.
This has taken the work and vision of many people including CHANEL with their preservation of craftsmanship by forming the 'metiers des arts' collection of companies. I'm looking forward to July and what treats await us in Paris next season. We are also blessed that there are more and more investors who are willing to back designers in reviving Houses as well as contributing to the launch of new ones. Haute Couture is one again being taken seriously at a commercial as well as artistic level.