Haute Couture Spring & Summer 2020
Images (C) Isadore Montag for Go Runway
With Daniel Roseberry now installed as Creative Director at Maison Schiaparelli in Paris, the House looked to a new future under the helm of a British designer who looked to possess the zeal of creative exuberance tempered with the dedication to the needs women. Spring /Summer 2020 contained many flights of fancy but also a pleasing number of dresses, suits and looks that also carried the traditional hall marks of restraint possessed by Parisian Haute Couture.
The collection opened with a passing reference to Yves Saint Laurent and the classic tuxedo jacket and suit that he composed for women. A White shirt blouse is styled with an open drop featuring sash gathers falling from the hips and front waist. A slightly loose cut jacket and trousers that hang lightly off the figure of the wearer. Large Golden jewellery at the ears made a play on the theme of the senses and perhaps to always be careful to listen and feel. The demure quiet confidence inhabited by the wearer as she walked gave a lasting impression. A classic tailored double breasted Black trouser suit was furnished by a beautiful Rosette flourish that was transported to the shoulders of a day suit as the most brilliantly raised collar added a vibrant head dress, perhaps in centuries past to be worn on a cloak. Drop Golden earrings again make a statement contrast with the single colour garment.
Centre above a dual colour dress fuses the liquidy silk of Black and Sable-Beige into a piece of harmonious contrasts. A Black silk cowl neckline dropping to a sash dipper shoulder sat above a ruche gathered waist slightly off centre on the bias. An ear cuff and earring sit also on the slant bias angle about the ears whilst the lengths of a necklace are transposed into jewellery extending through the lengths of the left arm and wrist. Broad fluttering leaves of Gold decorate the lengths of the chain reaching to finger guards that run to the tips. Soft Nude tones expand their reach in the collection and transmute to a coat dress finely ribbed to create a soft undulating texture beneath the fingers. It’s like a very chic transformation of the raincoat almost with a double tier of lapels and a plunge open neckline. Three sculpted Golden buttons and a chord tied around the waist show a deconstructed adaptation of the classic jacket style. To the right a Nude a-line dress base was accented with a rosette rising from around the waist to form a second upright caped collar about the shoulders. To me it looked like a pure statement of succinct 21st century high fashion, hints of the past re-imagined and revitalised to something new. It’s a strong possibility for a Red Carpet dress or White Tie evening dress. The subtle flower reference enhances the beauty of the wearer even further.
The skirt suit is amplified to beautiful Haute Couture proportions with a Midnight Blue jacket tailored at the shoulders before flowing to ruched sleeves gathered at the inside elbow. Everywhere the beautiful expanse of fabric ripples over the surface and opened slightly above the centre of the waist. The skirt wrapped about the waist like an Indian sari skirt that allowed the garment to move freely one the figure with the stride of the wearer. Contrasting with the Midnight Blue, a large earcuff at the left side ear is hewn in Jade Green. It suits the essence of the Elsa’s playful sensibility and a thoughtful contrast to the smooth continuity of the Blue. On a nocturnal theme perhaps, the neckline was ringed by moon-like opalescent stones of clear milky Whiteness. Sleek line Black dress takes the theme of adornment in two forms with both dress and adornment with supposed shoulder straps reaching away from the body and curling through the air. Gilded ornaments hang from the ears as something more than jewellery worked in both crystal and Gold.
A sheer Nude shift dress sewn with ornaments again appeared to meld fashion with jewellery and another area of artisan craftsmanship. The resplendent Gold and Silver creations often feature depictions of the eye, again nodding to the senses and their importance in our journey feeling our way along the path of life. The drop jewels form a literal part of the charms of this piece and also add an audible dimension to the dress. It was a bold Goddess dress. To the right a rich Clay trouser suit took its cue partly from the well-defined women’s trouser suits o the 1980’s. Gold jewellery inlaid in the front of the jacket sewn in appliqué added an almost vintage touch of theatrical beauty to the piece. It’s a confident suit for occasions when you don’t want to do unnoticed. Set with flowers and locks of the hearts secret as seen on the previous dress it weaves symbolism into the essence of its being. A second Nude dress in the range sits closely against the figure adorned with jewellery that became integral to the bodice, waist and skirt lengths. The eyes are even shielded in a mantel of Gold echoing the shape of eyes and eye lashes in playful creation. Thick twists of Gold descend from each ear in expression of more symbols that Elsa believed in.
A Black dress uses not only the asymmetric cut away and dropped hind hem but also plays with ruching prominently across the front surface of the piece ‘snaking’ like the S for Schiaparelli. The single shoulder style further adds to the art nouveau look and feel that references back to Elsa time as a designer and her love of surrealism and questioning norms. Beneath the trailing earrings a brooch at her left shoulder features a Golden heart at the centre of its design emphasising her essential belief that there should always be love. Another wardrobe staple returns to us in earth tones with a coat dress. Trimmed close to the figure the pockets sitting at the hips are offset by the surprise inclusion of jewelled earring like pendants hanging from the buttons of the jacket. The earrings worn by the model hang in a waterfall of Gold from the ears in two styles evoking the art nouveau once again. A chic Brown leather clutch bag held at the right hand side of the model sets the mood back in the direction of working-wear and would be an easy piece to add to several looks in the collection or purchase as a standalone item.
A Midnight Blue trouser suit sat high on the waist with broad legged trousers that where on the way to becoming palazzo pants. The gentle ease of the look is reflected in the nonchalant hand in pocket to the right side of the figure. The frame of glasses is mimicked across the eyes with the eye and lashed recreated in Golden swirls and worn as a jewelled piece sitting on the bridge of the nose. Contrasting design large Gold earrings once again hung from the ears and a nod to the gentleman’s watch chain appeared in a jewelled chain hung between brooches placed on either side of the jacket at contrasting heights. Soft circles of pearlescent fabric fluttered across the surface of a figure hugging cocktail dress with a plunge sweetheart neckline. To the right a Black cocktail dress with sequins flutters around the wearer with a subtle shimmer of sequins heightened by twists of jewel-like strands working their way up the arms of the wearer. This was another bold evening piece that set the tone for an adventurous spirit through the rest of the collection.
Many pieces look to float between day and evening wear and above a Black trouser suit had just the right ‘phrasing’ to match both. With a bolero jacket worn open to the high waist overlapping the belt of the trousers, the look echoes both the 1980’s corporate dress and smart social looks and the early women’s suits during the era that Elsa was designing in. A shimmering diamond bandeau top sat with the light of a multitude of diamonds beneath a soft blouse dress. Sitting lightly on the figure and completed by a large bow at the centre stomach between the hips, this piece feels at once casual and also a delicate piece of Haute Couture craftsmanship. The expression in Black continues with a straight Black skirt is surmounted by a generous Black high collar ruffle crowning the dress. At once precise and at once carefree, this look shows how a minimalist approach to glamour can be very impactful. To the right Roseberry went classic with a full length and full skirted dress that reached 18th and 19th century proportions with a twist of contemporary colour at the bodice. A touch of non-conformity appears in the dropped line of the bodice above the skirt, but of course without this, it wouldn’t carry the signature of Schiaparelli. It’s a piece to make an impact in for an entrance at an event or enjoy during a private night’s entertainment.
Sheer Nude fabric returned to create an illusion of diamonds dancing across the skin and a shimmering Blue dress is lightly banded in alternate shades down the length of the figure. A duo of shoulder straps appear at the neckline with shoe-lace thin Blue and broad White bands. A shirt-dress in White sat coolly on the model as she walked out and a central large Gold button sealed the drop neckline. One of the most sensational outfits of the collection appears centre above where a mid-Blue dress is studded with jewels that are placed at the same distance across the skin of the model as the dress. Rosettes swirl high at the waistline and across the shoulders in a high swirled collar. It’s a show stopping catwalk piece that would be truly memorable. To the right a White trouser suit was framed in soft lines with a loose cut jacket and trousers jewelled as the preceding dress and an open Magenta shirt underneath forming a strong colour contrast. Small pearls sewn towards the hemline of the garment add an extra sense of light and life to the garment. As the collection draws further towards the close broad sweeps of colour. To the right above a dress is striped in the maritime Navy Blue and White at the bodice and in the skirt celebrated the colours of the rainbow.
A skirt of the broadest historical proportions in a soft Magenta was matched to a bandeau bodice strung in three bold tones of Red and Blue and accented with a Green waist band. It’s a dress ready for the sunshine and also has hints of a swimsuit in its halter neck tie but this almost sends your thoughts away from its possibilities as an eveningwear look. A scintillating sheer Black dress with the dotted studded sequins that somehow evoke the nightscape of the city is a daring option to appear in before the cameras. This dress would capture the lenses, if you should so wish, and find a place in the press or on social. The dropped waistline hints at the more demure era of the 1920’s a century ago but this is one style that may have been too outrageous even for that era.
A Rose silk satin shoulder less dress is one of the classics that this collection offers up to appear out and about in for press engagements but also a discreet versatile classic. The dress appears to be too loose for the wearer with fabric consuming her but this is thanks to very clever cutting on the part of the design team. The ripples of fabric are set to perfection on the figure, nothing is left to chance here and eve the accompanying tote bag looks serious. To the right a cinq-coleur figure hugging dress is sewn in a chainmail mesh of glittering sequins that leaves the model somewhat exposed whilst a ballooning gown-jacket trails behind her. One for the boldest of party hosts or guests perhaps but as ever, you can often order off the menu with Haute Couture to your heart’s desire.
Images (c) Alessandro Lucioni
Maria Grazia Chiuri is now well installed in the House of Dior. However, the mark of her Roman past remains and could arguably be said to be growing in its influence through the season offering that she brings forth for Dior. The collection opened with a statement dress for a modern goddess. Hair-fine strands of gold thread, like the hair of Angels or mythological divine beings was wrapped around the figure of the debut model forming both a solid band of fabric when tightly packed together and alternately appearing as a floating wispy fringe of fabric. The horizontal “St Andrew’s” cross of Gold around the chest almost fits to the figure like a piece of armour with a thick and defining the waist. A thin chord defines the waist descending to a dual layered fringe drop featuring a mini-skirt wrapped in tassel lengths reaching the ground with sleeves echoing the same style.
A Roman theme continued in the metallic Silver peplum pleated sleeveless blouse and trousers. The upper figure is crossed in geometric alignment tapering of waist in the direction of the single breasted style of jacket. It’s understated and elegant and feels new as well as timeless. Just looking carefully at how the soft fabric at the shoulders gently descend to form pleats that become defined tucks is a master stroke of the petit mains. This style could have been worn in recent decades as much as it could be worn now and hints at how Haute Couture in its essence is something that often remains eternal and adaptable, like Rome itself. The models hair itself through the collection is platted and wrapped into crowns across the forehead that also speak of the traditional beauty styles of the classical age. The metallic strips of fabric returned in a skirt suit that saw fabric with almost imperceptible spaces between it descend to curved swirls of Gold that interlaced to form a gentle open weave in the jacket lengths between the waist and the hips accented with a sheer tulle fabric. A midi-length skirt also cut in sheer golden tulle is similarly sewn with bands of fabric draped in a lattice weave through the lengths.
The finest imaginable gold weave returned with hair-fine strands of Gold forming the outer shell of a dress composed of wide ribbons of fabric wrapping around the figure. A thick band encircling the neckline with deep embroidery featured interlaced chain-like shapes reminiscent of Roman jewellery. It looks both like an evening dress and a robe worn by a devotee to a long-passed religion. Mauve/Rose-Gold enters the palette with nuanced chic suggestions of classic refined pieces. Twists of fabric created draped forms that echoed the classic lines of Greco—Roman dress. A single shoulder blouse elegantly structured with a twist of fabric at the central bodice formed a light accompaniment to a pencil skirt featuring a sash tie on the contrasting diagonal. It’s a classic look for drinks parties or dates in the summer months. A thick chord band returned to differentiate the waist of a culottes suit with trousers cut to midi-length. Whilst the trousers are pleated the jacket itself is cut on smooth lineless enveloping fabric that wraps the wearer like a glove. A single breasted alignment and neat pockets at the hips nod to conformity whilst the softness of the cut itself created the feel of a fresh look. This is another piece that could be worn twenty years from now as part of a client’s treasured collection.
The softening and adaptation of conventional style is continued in a single piece suit blending the lines of conventional structure once again with the diaphanous volume of fabled femininity. The tailored collar and line of a classic shirt melts into the broad expanse of shirt lengths forming something similar to a cloak with sleeves melting into a cape and wide culottes trousers flowing from modest pin-tucks at the waist. A large necklace composed of out-sized Golden leaves fluttered down the neckline of the wearer bringing the shimmer and lustre of the ancient world to life. A single breasted trouser suit in Gold was woven to give the faint echo of subtle indents of Gold across the surface, like a treasured ancient object. Pockets at the hips, pressed lines running the length of trousers and Haute Couture fit tailoring all leave the impression of a special look that again is as eternal as Rome itself.
Keeping with the metallic theme a Platinum bodice cut with an echo of the sweetheart neckline is paired with trousers to form another suit option. Grazia Chiuri once again seems to touch base with ancient Rome in a way that I personally feel speaks more to Valentino than the legacy of Monsieur Dior, but there you have it, I’m probably being quite eccentric in seeing this. With small sleeves sitting squarely on the shoulders off-set by peplum detail around the waist, there is a faint ballerina reference in the outfit. A dove Grey woven dress is formed from areas that resemble in part the studded and woven garments of the Roman soldier as well as the natural-dye soft textiles of ancient women’s dress. Sewn with Gold coin and petal like symbols it calls to the Roman deities of nature and fortune, both believed to be embodied by women. A second fringed dress appears with tiers leading from the single shouldered neckline down to the ankle. The ancient world appeared to walk before the audience in an elegant swish.
A nod to the classic ‘Bar’ women’s midi-length suit by Dior appeared above to the left with a jacket and skirt sewn with bands of ribbon Golden cloth sewn onto the surface of a sheer organza tulle. The modern and the ancient meet again in an echo of Ancient Egyptian craft in the visual statement of the Golden bands descending through the figure. The sheer tulle hints at the Regency/Napoleonic era around 200 years ago when sheer fabrics became a high fashion staple and much more revealing than what later generations wore. The natural gathers of fabric reminiscent of fabric clutched in a precise ruche forms the centre of a flowing sheer White dress. Fitting for a goddess or lady of Imperial Rome, this dress looks like a bridal veil sculpted to the figure. The flowing ease of the piece belies the precision detail of the craftsmanship involved in the construction of the garment as so often in Haute Couture.
A Silver-Teal dress is finely pleated through the lengths of a circular full skirt. The bodice is uniquely woven to appear like layers of fabric ruched in varied compressed overlying folds in a contrast of angles compared to the disciplined lengths of the skirt. Asymmetric shoulder sashes cross the figure whilst two chords cross the bodice between hips and shoulder and encircle the waist. The White skirt suit is reimagined into a jacket draped classical form around the figure to a tie at the left hand waist and a skirt, slightly split at the side revealing that it’s actually composed of single draped fabric. Striding forward like a goddess she wore the Golden chorded sandals that appeared through the collection on models feet. Literally walking between the past and the present. To the right a trouser suit features a beautiful detail in the twist of fabric across the upper jacket. A flourish from the design of the Haute Couture dresses is translated into the fluid ruched styling of the complementary piece. In a Platinum-Silver this piece enhances the natural beauty and composition of the wearer’s hair and make-up look as it doesn’t overpower her appearance.
A Platinum dress wrapped around the wearer in an elegant sleeveless robe; the type worn by women in many parts of the world for over two thousand years. The ease and fluidity of movement lend themselves to the creation of the look and feel of grace and elegance and also, like many in the collection, it’s an easy look to be adapted across the generations. Another necklace formed from the flakes of fiery Gold hangs with broad confidence from the neck to the above the waistline. The Gold itself appears to have fallen, like leaves of a tree and gathered around the model in alignments echoing the rays of the sun. Another goddess from the Roman pantheon strode forth for Maison Dior. Rose-Gold appeared again in a sleek embellished trouser suit that kept harmony with the established colour scheme and precision drape. Shimmering satin crepe swathed to a gather at the left waist defined the natural curve of the figure within the jacket form. This is perhaps the most beautiful rendition of a single breasted jacket that I’ve ever seen created and has the nuanced touch of discreet elegance that Christian Dior strove to make a hallmark of his House as he established it.
The goddess dresses stream forth with the confidence as they chose to walk amongst us, rather than through the halls and fields of Mount Olympus. White organza is gathered around the figure with feather-like precision that offers simplicity to the eye belying the skill in it’s creation. Again Grazia Chiuri seems to be evoking the classics that she created with her colleague Piccolini at Valentino as the signature single plaited chord strap at the shoulder and around the waist set the dress in place on the figure. This is a look heading for the Red Carpet of many private balls and galas coming up this season and into the future; another timeless piece to add to the collection. A more formal structure referencing the geometric nature and construction of ancient Roman art and jewellery was created in the next outfit to the right. The bodice is delineated with the contrasting forms of torque like semi-circles and geometric lattice of metallic chords whilst the skirt wrapped around the figure like sheet metal channelling multiple ancient cultures from the Roman, to Egyptian and Mesopotamian. To the right a Blush toned dress offers a little more modest expression of the style with shoulders elegantly covered in soft swathes of fabric. It’s a stunning piece that at once evokes the Golden age of Hollywood and the ancient world as well as the striding supermodels of the 1980’s and 1990’s catwalk years. The latter, an era was also at the forefront of Parisian fashion as it has returned to being. It’s like a dress that stepped out of a dream.
A light skirt suit appears wrought in the Gold hammered into sheets for the Gods above to the left. The eternal pure element almost matched by the splendour of ancient Rome itself is cut and styled into an adaptation of the classic single breasted women’s jacket, gathered in the collection hallmark ruche at the waist with pockets at the hips. A pencil skirt cut with plenty of freedom to move whilst retaining the styled line continues the vertical visual appearance of a Golden waterfall. This look also features some of my personal favourite jewellery of the collection. A delicate Golden bandeau is teamed with a light partial dotted veil beneath the floating Golden leaves. It brings an almost cinematic chic to the collection with a complementary necklace echoing the circular form with leaves casually suspended from the collar through to the neckline. The simplest drape feature, the twist forms the innocent centre point, literally, of another Golden garment that echoes the fluid metallic movement seemingly of liquid Gold. Wrapping around the figure of the wearer the sashes of the fabric cross are fringed lightly above the waist softening any possibility of the look becoming stark. Created in a single piece of fabric, true to the artisanal heights of Haute Couture, it’s a master stroke of craftsmanship.
The final dress of the range above is tweaked slightly in a soft Blush colour to create a tissue mirage of floating style. It’s pure Haute Couture channelling Grazia Chiuri’s cherished Roman elements and the simplicity is off-set beautifully by the gown-jacket worn over the piece. Golden silk is sewn with wild flowers hand crafted and then sewn in applique. It’s a handy look for the cooler nights of spring and late summer and also useful for more conservative cultural environments. A White dress made a feature of contrast with a soft cowl neckline set in juxtaposition to finely pleated skirt lengths. The waist defined by a single woven chord tied off-centre bridged between the two. To the right the soft dreamlike dress is contrasted by another permutation of the metallic trouser suit in burnished Gold the straight lines drawn in perfect symmetry with front closing jacket and pressed line trousers. Again the Romanesque jewellery is kept minimal and discreet.
A fascinating blend of Gold and Platinum appears to form the vibrant molten lengths of the next dress reaching to the floor in classic fit and flare style. Romanesque plaited chords tied over the shoulders expand into the beautiful fabric and you realise that this fascinating garment is created also from one skilfully crafted piece of fabric. The waist chord also in many garments n this collection looks like a precursor to the chatelaine chain where ladies of the house firstly nobility then housekeepers from the late roman era through to the 19th century carried the keys to properties on a chain about their waists. This dress is ‘Red Carpet’ ready and just waiting to be taken out or worn for a special event away from the camera. It could also be worn as a bold second wedding dress I think for an event on a warm summer’s night with the sunset and under the stars. This classic simplicity is contrasted with the sheer Blush coloured blouse and Golden metallic lone-line skirt. The box pleats at the waist are contrasted by the fine segmented detail that appears as part of the surface of the skirt. It’s a look that references the desk to dinner mode of dress with an Haute Couture spin and ‘Black Tie’ formal appropriate.
That deceptively simple twist of fabric returned once more with a White blouse and skirt adopting the elegant on the shoulder, off the shoulder, look held by the fabric twist in the centre. A floor length skirt tailored in long-line style was cut open at the side lengths of the skirt to appear flattering to the elongated figure. All the while hair was braided in the signature Romanesque plait that crossed the head above the ears. This ancient crown still worn across Europe and beyond at least since Roman times is one of the most enduring beauty styles to love on from what we call today, the Ancient World. A Silver trouser suit with its sleek lines and hip centred pockets was adorned with Golden leaf jewellery in the hair and at the neckline. The Roman Goddess dressing for business or a working lunch in Paris, Rome or anywhere else in the world. A Lion enters to the left with the soft chord of Silver woven into the face of the King of the African savannah across the surface of a sheer tulle bodice. The skirt lengths of the dress nod to the leather pleat flaps that formed the outer layer of clothing of Roman soldiers for over much of its two thousand year history. The light plays on the fabric beautifully.
Above to the left a light Lilac brings the colour of early dawn in a single shouldered dress repeating the theme of a smooth fabric bodice above a full length skirt composed of fine pleats. A single shoulder lightly covered with a soft cape adds a further dimension to the look evoking the soft float of the train. It’s as soft as the light spring breeze. A semi-sheer Violet tunic cape sits over a twinned floor length flowing skirt to create a memorable look of the subtlest styling. On hot evenings this would be a very easy piece to wear through the length of a function. Centre above a White dress with a bold central split features the drop shoulder look for a second time that echoes the fabric twist at the waist. This is a dress that is ready for the Red Carpet and the camera and stage spotlights. A Silver-Platinum trouser suit featured swirled fabric across the centre join of the jacket in a delicate plait. Broad lapels disappear to re-emerge in a fan-like splay across the lower part of the jacket between the waist and the hips. Golden leaf jewellery returns again in the form of a necklace and thin diadem. To the right a dress is visually divided into blouse and skirt components that features detailed embroidery and print motifs. It’s another nod to French and Italian creative history with the stylised design of the very early 19th century painting and wallpaper designs. A Golden leaf necklace and serpents weaving around both wrists of the model added to the feel of antiquity in the look.
One of the most beautiful variations of the single and/or drop shoulder combination in this collection is the first dress above to the left. The beautiful ruche gathers at the right shoulder and across the bodice to surround the wearer. A triple chorded tie at the waist holds the fabric in place around the figure. A departure in the sheer fabrics took a step towards highlighting the artisanal skill of the atelier in applique embroidery. Although I’m not convinced by the bodice and shorts underneath, I selected this look to include as I was entranced by the beauty of the embroidery work on the piece.
A deep Mauve dress is held by a timeless braid that reaches between left shoulder and right waist. The most classically simple bodice of ruched fabric separated from tiny full length pleats by a sash swash wrap around the waist is another look ready for the cameras and the Red Carpet. A Violet sheer tulle shift again emphasises that simple beauty of dentelle embroidery and the purity of the craft that has been practised for centuries across the world to add extra unique touches to a garment. In this look the waist is encircled by the flickering leaves of Gold wrapped around the figure. To the right Rose-Gold appears in the rich form of molten liquid that wraps around the model like a magical veil. The chord tie at the waist again channels the style of the ancient world and set Dior firmly on a path that reaches simultaneously back into the distant past and far into the future.
The central twist feature used to accent the waist appeared again in a Rose-Gold culottes suit that continued the style theme of broad lapels and the release of fabric into broad sashes outlining the jacket lengths to the waist. The full length pleats of culottes trousers echo the pleating the dress skirts through the collection and offer an alternative expression for wearers. Once again along with her peers, the models head is crowned with thick braids. A Rose coloured marble effect fabric features waves that appear almost like geological formations across a comfortable loose-cut dress. Again it channels the simpler styles seen on ancient murals and depictions of women’s clothing and yet another departure from Dior towards the ancient. Hints at the care-free or antique are also shown by careful fraying of the garment at the hemline reaching the floor whilst a double chord at the waist cinches the look to the form.
Centre above a sheer Black dress with Golden leaf embroidery channels another ancient vibe in the collection and also the continental ‘Napoleonic era’ of artisanal crafts and décor that where inspired from the ancient world. Fabric gathered at certain points of the garments skirt circumference show a variation in texture and the Gold leaves of the necklace off-set the shimmer of the Golden threads. I apologise for my repetition but before me I saw next the Rosso Red of Valentino in the flowing Goddess gown that appeared in the vintage line of Grazi Chiuri during her days in the atelier’s of Rome. These are classic dresses though and ones that clients from actresses to musicians, royalty and businesswomen will would want to add to their collections. It’s also got that multi-generational touch and could be tailored for someone 19-90 should they wish. To the right another Mauve masterpiece woven in sheer fabric with the touch of nymph like elegance was a sweet juxtaposition to the quilted tapestry gown-jacket that carried hints of the classic renaissance dress. The lucid echoes of history meet with hints of contemporary upcycling.
I could happily see endless permutations of Lilac dresses with their delicate drapes across the shoulders and bodice completed by long line pleats flowing through the lengths of the skirt. The central wrap of the fabric enhances the mystique of the look in a sheer/opaque juxtaposition creating effortless volume and a simple headband and light dotted veil create the look of polished elegance. Another Goddess breezes through the catwalk. Hints of a Rose-Gold base beneath delicate wheat-like sheaves of corn cross the surface of another statement dress imbued with the discreet elegance that Dior knew as second nature. A plaited single shoulder and triple chord waist shape the fabric about the frame.
Golden leaves flicker and serpents snake at the wrists evoking a fire of passion amidst the soft colour of the dresses. The palette is mostly neutrals, natural tones and there are some surprises in the soft dentelle statements as in the above. The single shoulder dress banded by woven chord from the garment itself falls from ruched gathers at the bodice to layers of dress skirt seemingly casually folded on top of each other. To the right above hints at the strength of colour appear as the collection draws towards its finale. An Oliver featuring the signature styling of the collection pairs a shoulder strap woven from the fabric of the dress with lightly folded fabric at the opposite shoulder. It’s fun without being too daring for the tastes of many of the environments that these dresses are worn in.
The last frieze selected from the collection opened with a Damask Rose dress that showed flowing fabric in the most natural way appearing as if simply blows across the surface of the wearer. A single piece of fabric appears tightly folded and yet voluminous and free in its swathe. A summer Sky blue dress also makes a daring style departure towards the end of the collection with a bodice composed of bands of twisted fabric that appear similar to grouped shoulder or waist sashes that appeared earlier in the collection. A woven chord above and below define the lines of the garment with rigour and yet the soft touch of human hands in the atelier is discernible. Below the bodice, the dress skirt is formed of tightly gathers trailing lengths of fabric sewn together in the same way. It’s a beautiful truly creative piece.
A bold Magenta dress would make a confident colour statement on a warm summer evening with bodice crafted from woven gathered bands of fabric, this dress blends the nuances of Haute Couture and humble homemade craft into one. Another wonderful piece to take along the Red Carpets or to public or private commitments during the coming season and beyond. The finale dress took a leap into the unknown with bold metallics appearing in not one but two colours within the same garment in a bold departure from the single colours statements that ran through the length of the seasonal offering. The effervescent eternal Gold of the sun moves in degrede through to the deep Blues of deepest midnight. As the world turns through it’s ancient cycle I was reminded, in looking at this dress, of the two Dior exhibits staged in London and Paris in recent years that both featured a ballroom showing the passage of day into night into day as part of the heavenly wheel under which Dior showed their work. A truly spectacular dress with gauzy tulle train with a voice of its own. Almost an homage to Dior within Dior itself.
Iris van Herpen
Images (c) Alessandra Lucioni Go Runway.
Iris van Herpen has a unique sense of style that touches ever so slightly on the gothic but with the quality of a fascinating dream. The collection opened in a moment of Black stillness. Models walked through rotating metal sculpture that created a trompe de l’oeil effect and several garments themselves where articulated in movement.
A fine woven corset formed the bodice of the dress echoing the fine bone structure of vertebrae in a fascinating weave. It’s a breath-taking piece of fabric technology showing that the complex art of weave continues to be one that designers want to work with. Something in the sway and volume of this piece hints to me at a majestic vision of style for a women either from the distant past or future. A cocktail dress tapered to the figure offset bare shoulders with a high collar and a raised fish-tail skirt descending from the knee to hind ankles. The fine geometric knit work here is sensational with the descending looped swirls that would be added as signature flourished in writing as well as textile weaving a mosaic through the length of the piece. A Black tunic bodice sat beneath the finely woven canvas covering the figure. Chic and elegant it has a confidence that required no explanation. Two steps to the right this same fabric is repeated in a dress with a broader circular skirt. The circles appeared in three descending passages with the 18th century Mantua dress references and the gothic Boehme of sheer Black tulle floating around the model’s legs.
Cascades of sheer Black tulle issued from curled Cream-coloured cones running across the surface of the dress. The swathes of tulle float around the form with the highest placed upon the bodice curling round the neckline to create a sleeve in complement to the wispy length of fabric that became effectively a partial outer skirt. It’s a bold statement for public appearances and the camera would fine this look an interesting choice amongst the more classic Red Carpet pieces. Van Herpen is a master of the creation of art-meets-fashion design and it’s evident that there is a large client base out these who want to own or collect these pieces. Farthest right above the fine definition of vertebrae-like applique gathers are positioned in perfection through the lengths of a nude base dress. The effect is to create a living contrast between the sharp and the soft. The lengths of the skirt flowing from the waist swirl around the legs of the model like a waterfall of beauty.
The pebble stones of a river bed, under cool swirling waters create a natural mosaic of curved shapes. Through the length of the dress Lavender became deeper Violet with stones in hues of Aqua Blue also streaming through the fabric in the lengths. The duality of rock and liquid, water and stone, the two basic elements of earth is encompassed in the female one. The bodice of the dress is segmented into draped shapes that complement the curve of the stones. Sleeves billowed and formed cloak-like lengths, rock took on the characteristics of molten liquid forming into gem stones. Circles upon circles placed over each-other echoed both the formation of 19th century dress skirt hoops as well as the delicacy of butterfly’s wings. The soft wash of Aqua Blue splashed through the tissue layers of the garment brought a colour contrast to draw the eye into the puzzle of the design.
Violet tendrils of silk appear ruched and almost crushed in the next dress to the right. Twists of fabric weave across the surface like stem leaves of a plant wind up the torso of the model to form a bodice. A profusion of silken lengths of fabric blend together to form a handkerchief-like dress skirt. Echoes of stone-print run through the lengths with different tones of Lilacs and Blues dappled across the surface in a grown-up version of tye-dye. To the right, stronger colour came to the fore with Violet, Lilac, Umber and Scarlet weaving across the surface. This is another Goddess dress in the sequence with flame-like tendrils of fabric flickering across the surface with a controlled fiery passion. A Nude tulle long sleeved bodice held the look in place. As the curls of fabric moved down the figure, this look was also completed with the lengths forming a flowing undulating skirt. It’s a statement look for the cameras at press events of Galas and something in the warm energy also made me think that this look could be carried forwards to the Autumn-Winter season.
A similar fiery cauldron of Reds, Blues and Pinks came forth with the curled cones in Black silk fanned across the surface of the bodice of the dress. Cocktail-hour meets innovative design. A soft hint at sleeves was created with fabric woven around the shoulders to create soft drapes that fell around the upper body. Simplifying the silhouette further a sweetheart neckline fell to a deep plunge with a dress in the same fire and ice colours encircling the figure. Long lengths of fabric formed a skirt whilst the lengths flowing behind her formed a simple classic small train. Whilst the colours created a bold statement the cut of the piece was much more subtle in its line around the figure.
A curious optical illusion is created in the next two looks with small pieces of silk crafted to look at once like bone and feather, seemingly opposite ends of the anatomical spectrum. The two pieces, both long and short where formed in perfect symmetry around the figure of the wearer. Furthest right a Golden swirl of the jointed fabric appeared like a creature, living and breathing with its own life around the form of the model who wore it. Once again structure, even architecture is celebrated in the exploration of the human form.
Full length floating fantasia dresses is blended with the prints echoing the both the animal kingdom and the natural shape of minerals. The bodice and corset sculpted around the figure flowed with the undulation of lines around the natural bounds of the person. The symmetry folds and weaves across the fabric with images experiences expansion and contraction but always filled with the presence of light. Centre above shapes like wings are crafted from a multitude of pebble-like shapes that sit in a complex geometric harmony across the surface of the dress. Wide cut sleeves flowing beneath the elbow and the full broad skirts of a show-stopping dress form a gown-like expanse around the figure of the model. I feel that you can even see the shape of the traditional form of an Angel in it too. To the right a myriad of tessellated white discs in graduated sizes wrap around the figure of a model as she walks. If you look closely, I’m sure it’s not my imagination, you can see heart shapes within the design looking from the front onward. Light as a feather, it also has angelic-like appearance.
The circles grew larger into broad diaphanous floating plates. They bounced lightly around the figure of the wearer with her natural movement. Splashes of Aqua-Blue faded to an almost White colours as the design radiated out across the piece. The careful tessellation, the rotation of shapes and the gentle graded wash of colour all placed with a precision to imitate nature. To the right a more daring piece to close the collection showed the Blue melded with Cherry and deepest Claret. The bodice of the dress formed by packed tiers of cut panels lifting upwards and aimed downwards. These dresses truly embraced the notion of 3d fashion. The many delicate layers both made a strong style statement and also formed a strong shield of armour of sorts to guard the wearer against the outside world. These Angels strode out in the cold dark days of Paris in January into a brave new decade.
Ralph & Russo
All Haute Couture Houses speak with their own voice but Ralph & Russo have defined a path that synthesises both the fastidiousness of old world atelier workmanship with fresh impulses and dashes of colour. The collection opened with a beautiful Blush Rose dress shimmering with jewelled sequined mystery. Cut close to the figure, a second outer layer was partially formed by silken tulle rosettes sewn in two stages through the piece. The bodice and shoulders and skirt from hips to mid-calf hem were dotted with delicate blooms graduated by size and geometrically positioned. Tulle light enough to create a veil falls behind the model as she walks to form a train behind the wearer. Intriguingly it’s a bridal piece that appears to be opening the collection and as tradition is maintained by also featuring another wedding-ready look for the end, Ralph & Russo start a new tradition of ‘bookending’ the collection with a bride.
A vintage fantasy of ruffles with tiered bow-like fringes seems to sit somewhere between the 18th and 21st century. There is something irresistibly Parisian and antique about this with its antique light Blue. A large bow-tied ribbon at the neckline breaks the flow of ruffles to give a casual sense of harmony to the piece. Despite the tones of sweetness it refrains from looking child-like and could drift along the Red Carpet or grand corridors or through gallery halls in many spaces in time and seem in place. Soft froths of pastel, Pink, Blue and Lemon blend in brush stroke touches through the lengths of the garment. A single exposed shoulder reveals an asymmetric note opposite the full flowing sleeve ending in a festoon of feathers that encircle the lengths of the dress from the lower waist to the hem. The soft gathers of the fabric create a gentle give and movement around the figure. It’s a soft easy piece with jewellery styled into the garment itself at the neckline and waist in the form of chunky crystals. Furthest right a coat dress in two phases of Blush Pink and soft Baby Blue is intricately sewn with intricate embroidered flowers. Soft feathers reach away from the surface of the fabric with the fine plumes effecting a soft outer sphere. The garment is lightly structured in fold-like layers with a fine attention to form and detail that contrasts the simple almost childlike impression given by the softness of the colours.
An Icey-Blue trouser suit makes an entrance with the understated verve that many piece from Ralph& Russo possess. A sheer light blouse sat underneath a sequinned jacket matched to trousers shinning with the light of a hundred crystals. The same sheer fabric tied around the neckline created a soft stole and the duality of fabric textures created a delicate harmony. Soft flowers hewn in clusters of crystal shine through the length of this trouser suit with trails of crystals around the neckline and waist again evoking the feel of jewellery worked into the garment itself. Hints of washed Rose-Pink and Green float across the surface in the flowers. This put the rise of the jump suit from comfy casual to Haute Couture beyond question. This look as with others was accompanied by the child-like bow in the model’s hair. Echoing the style also used by Chanel, I’m not sure how I felt about the symbolism of this but in its essence it was naturally pretty.
A soft light leaf Green satin dress draped around the figure in a style resembling the ancient wrapped draped single-shouldered dresses. A halter neckline design is enhanced by a large crystal flower sat at the right shoulder. Set against the single colour fabric, this jewelled feature incorporates leaves as well as jewels into the design with the left wrist also jewelled into a cuff. It’s an easy piece to suit a well-toned figure in the long hot evenings of summer time and evenings under the hot glare of set cameras. Every inch a film star or serious socialite look. To the right crystals sewn closely together like sequins shimmer across the surface of a full length dress that revived the soft Pink and Green floral decoration formed by applique sewn flowers. Fine feathers create a ruffle at the neckline whilst the applique flowers of the dress magnified perhaps ten times in size fall from the lengths of the dress to create a soft train behind the wearer as she walks. It’s light hearted and beautiful in its own way.
A further step in the direction of formality appears with a floor length dress featuring a thick Black bandeau neckline and tissue lengths of Lemon/Lime silk overlain with embroidered flowers. Soft washes of Blue and Pink petals run across the surface with ample fabric trailing behind the wearer as she walks. It’s a dress to make an entrance in and also has that look of classical Black and White tie elegance that would work across decades. This strikes me as a dress that a client could purchase and lend to a daughter or grand-daughter in future times.
As with the next piece centre above, the bold side split notwithstanding, this dress is a pure timeless piece of style to be enjoyed and cherished potentially across many seasons. Rosette flourishes across the right shoulder sweep to ruched fabric drawn over the bodice to the left waist. It’s a classic timeless look that signals simple beauty. There looks to be potential to close the split slightly to a lower height also for a more demure look. Crystal sewn tights offer another way to bring jewels themselves into the garment. To the right a sheer dress in banded tiers of tulle floats around the wearer in traditional circular design. The daring composition itself however defies conformity in a contrast to the cut of the garment itself. The vibrant rosette at the right hip adds a floral hint in fabric to the look and also an extra physical dimension. Gathered layers of fabric at the bodice sit at a soft angle descending across the bodice almost creating the effect of a single shoulder garment.
Twinkling sparkle of a long line skirt suit transforms the lines of formal office wear into something spectacular for high glamour moments. The jacket with broad lapel collar and a waist cinched by a belt. A slight peplum expanse around the waist defines the classic female hour-glass shape. Crystal clusters shaped like flowers sat in the central button placements of the jacket and leading up the seam from the side split hem. A clutch purse at the right hand and anklets at the base of the skirt feature the soft breathe of feathers moving in the air as the wearer walked. A Blush-White ankle length dress was strewn with crystals embroidered about the neckline and in the sleeve and dress lengths. Feathers encircled the cuffs and hemline whilst the large childlike bow looms large behind the dressed hair of the wearer. It’s elegant with a sense of fun the unmistakable wand of the Haute Couture atelier.
Centre right a bright flash of Lapis Blue rippled down the catwalk in front of the audience with splashes of coloured shapes hinting at the marine life and fish perhaps in the rich Blue seas of summertime. A cape-train trailed behind the wearer with the subtle romance of translucence. Curls of fabric around the shoulders off-set the smooth lengths of the train. A look that was beckoning summer and seashores and swimming pools. To the right an S curved its path across the figure of the wearer from left shoulder to right hip and down to central seam. The shimmering surface of the dress sewn with crystals changed from dark to light grey in a subtle transition of colour of the stones accentuated by the light. It’s a film star goddess look that would do well also at VIP gala events. For a touch of mysterious magic a sheer gauzy tulle fanned upwards from the neckline in a single layer to wrap around the bodice.
The classic fit and flare shape of the long dress that suits so many figures is created in a fitted sheer bodice and opaque and semi-sheer full length dress. The dress skirt is composed of two layers with a shorter underskirt adding opacity to create a more modest style. The outer shift of the dress in Black is dotted with White points and feathers in Black, Blue and White hint at the colours of night time and torch-lit summer parties. To the centre an elegant expression of the shirt dress is strewn with hand painted flowers across the surface to form a contrast to the formal lines of the collar and fastening buttons running through the central length. Falling slightly off the shoulders and tied around the waist with an elegant bow, its lengths splice texture and visual differences with cut away segments in the shape of flowers featured alongside the flowers themselves. It’s a beautiful artistic vision made real into a special piece.
To the right two shorter jacket dresses offer a more eye catching statement. Beautiful flowers sewn in long-stitch embroidery cover the surface on one side of the garment with the other decorated with flowers shown in outline form. The left jacket lengths and left sleeve are finished with long Lilac strands of silk that descend from an escalloped hem. Cut-away detail at the right side waist accents the central belt encircling the middle of the wearer. Another baby doll bow tied in a lower crown half-ponytail completes the look along with the subtle sophisticated make-up. To make the look a little less child-like you could adopt one of the other hair styling looks from the collection, braid or even wear loose but styled neatly. Furthest right the giant swirl of a bow sat at a roughly 45 degree angle through right shoulder across the bodice in contrast to a slightly more reserved escalloped peak. In symmetry another bow is wrapped around the back of the figure rising from the waist to behind the left shoulder. Sleek and elegant, light netted tulle that could form a mourning veil in another time falls from the back of the garment to create a train behind the wearer. If you hitched up the train to the neckline to form a light stole, it could be a fun piece to hit the dance floor in as well as the Red Carpet.
A sugary soft passage of looks here above that all hug closely to the figure and compliment a tall elongated frame. As ever with Haute Couture there are always possibilities for bespoke and the first look above to the left a mini-skirt suit in a base of soft Rose has been cleverly adapted to feature a pair of shorts jewelled across the waist running through the side lengths. The jacket is sewn with crystal jewels to form a cross of the piece through the length of the jacket front, encircling both the waist, collar, shoulders and cuffs. The shorts could potentially be lengthened to trousers or a skirt upon request and it struck me as a potentially suitable look for summer evening weddings. A playful off-set of Baby Blue heeled shoes and light Leaf-Green chimes with the twinkle of jewelled colours. A full-length dress to the right in sheer Light Blue is sewn also with jewelled crystals adding a second texture feel to the garment and also playing with light. The on shoulder/ off shoulder contrast against a thigh split hints at statuesque goddess gowns with tightly sewn sequins echoing the lines of drape and Red Carpet appeal.
The soft shimmer of Rose ripples across the smooth surface of a long line cylindrical cut dress that emphasises height and features a large bow tied ribbon at the left shoulder. The bow sweeps over the front and back of the shoulders in a soft but visible gesture that gives a soft note of beauty. A White trouser suit embellished with embroidery of an astonishing detail. White Roses ‘climb’ the surface of an open cut jacket with slim lapels running almost to the waist. The often hidden pockets stand out ever so slightly against the background of the embroidered surface with fringing at the sleeve cuffs echoed in the ankle hemline of the trousers. The cut-away flower shape in the legs of the trousers creates a soft inversion of the embroidery detail. Metallic shine returned again with a broad cylindrical skirt suit that incorporated scrolling swirls of fabric descending from long thin lapels onto the jacket pockets above the hips. Like a flash of Silver lightening this shimmering magic is transposed into a soft Rose halter neckline dress cut to classic cocktail dress form. A cluster of flowers at the neckline crafted as an extension of the dress in the same fabric signal a small break in the smooth surface. A broad split below the right hip gives an assured ease of movement for the wearer falling to a small train and dotted with tiny jewels. It’s a light and peaceful look to add to a collection of evening dresses.
A shimmering evening dress that sparkles with the crystals of life and brilliance walked forth emitting light from neckline to floor in its own soft glow. Gentle folds of fabric descending from the neckline are softly pleated against the figure of the wearer. The semi-sheer fabric worn over a Nude bodysuit creates the appearance of a contemporary fairy-tale piece. A soft train falls behind the wearer with a large bow placed at the back of the head in fabric to match the dress. The conventional full length fit and flare dress dating from the belle epoch era until today is referenced in the next look. It’s a piece that ‘gives the game away’ so to speak by showing the boning of the bodice and the lines of structure. Gathered layers of tulle in the skirt lengths layered in fringes of descending lengths are complimented by rosettes of flowers falling from the left shoulder to the lengths of the dress train behind the wearer.
To the right another bold sheer dress transformed the figure hugging midi-length cocktail silhouette into a striking number with sheer large open weave fabric sewn with sequin rosettes of flower detail. Soft feathers float away from the figure adding an extra dimension of volume. To the right a full length dress in Baby Rose cloaked the model with more than a hint of Gold softly billowing behind the wearer; a bow tied at the back of the dress gathering fabric to fall in soft folds as a dress train. Rose-Pink and Gold isn’t often a colour combination that you see often but it’s one of my favourites and looks flattering in everything from clothing to interior design and tableware. It’s a simple, yet high glam look that could easily take you through an evening at a classical concert or a ball of some description on a warm summer’s night.
A beautiful mid-Blue full length dress with an escalloped bandeau neckline featured a unique bodice design with an off-the-shoulder sleeve at the right arm wrapping around to a large bow at the lower back of the model. The reverse of the dress is also completed with a Light Blue drop of fabric that incorporates the perfect clash/contrast tones for an elegant look. Centre above a Duck Egg Blue dress with sash sleeves falling from the shoulders is festooned with clusters of fabric rosettes covering the surface of the garment length. This piece could potentially be a bridal piece that possibly could be requested in different pastel colours, Pink and Lemon but the Blue is classically beautiful. The look is sealed by another out-sized bow at the back of the models head.
To complete the collection Ralph & Russo as ever followed the polite custom of over a century of Parisian Haute Couture by showing a final piece designed with brides in mind. A dress slopes away from the shoulders to a mini-dress length composed of closely gathered rose-like flower petal shapes in White silk. It’s a spectacular piece that could perhaps be requested in a longer length for those with more modest tastes or traditions. Contrasting yet complimentary textures are featured in a pressed satin band around the neckline, a Rose made from layers of crystal ‘blooming’ across the surface and a fine sheer silk gloves and stockings dotted with pearls, like the traditional hat veil. A bridal crown and flowing veil also feature the blooming White silk rosettes of the flowers, cut to flow into a perfect arc on the ground behind the model bride. It’s a spectacular piece in keeping with the Ralph & Russo House tradition of showcasing the high skill levels of the atelier.
Design in its very essence is clearly something that fascinates Antonio Grimaldi. Reversing the classic progress of an Haute Couture collection, as some designers now do, Grimaldi showed a bridal dress as his opening debut piece of the collection. A bias angled band of fabric sewn with feathers worked across the bodice of the dress arched into the dresses two sleeves. Behind the model a round collar descends a train in crepe folded in a single wrap with feathers floating away from the surface of the fabric. A Champagne Platinum dress with fine pleats revealed the interest in structural design that Grimaldi continues to work with. The middle of the dress is cut away to reveal an almost bare midriff with two bands of fabric climbing the side of the figure. Above and below this a single voluminous fringe of fine pleated silk forming both a bodice and a full length skirt. For searing heats of day and warm nights this will be a useful addition to the wardrobe. The soft billowing neckline dips around the back of the wearer forming a cape as much as a dress around the shoulders and the long flowing skirt will help the wearer keep cool during hot days. It radiates the light of the sun adding to a sense of luminescence about the model.
A Lemon-Primrose colour appeared as a key note through the Spring-Summer 2020 collection. A circular collar again appeared as a stand-alone feature with an expanse of fabric falling from the neckline to a scalloped curve of fabric above the waist gathered in at the waist before loosely descending around the figure. The cut resembled the dresses and skirts of the late ‘belle epoch’ era with the look of an upturned champagne glass. Long sleeves are tipped with feathers in a soft contrast with the fabric of the main length of the garment. A bodice adorned with Black feathers crossing the figure is tipped with a single shoulder cover hidden by trails of plumes. The garment is completed by a long line loose fit Black skirt wrapped around the waist and legs of the wearer reaching to the floor lengths. To the right the signature Yellow returns with a shirt and skirt that featured structural banding at the arms and the waist with feather finish. A curved arc rising below the waist itself encircled was fringed with feathers that also swirled about the elbows and rear cuffs.
Angular metallic appears in a dress featuring a tapestry of shapes that blurred the colour boundary between Gold and Platinum. A voluminous single sleeve descended from the shoulder through the length of the arm. An asymmetric curve through the waist belt lengthening the piece up the side of the figure to the under arms adds a feel of formal restraint to the garment. The fine undulating fabric and almost tapestry-like interlacing sheets created the impression of a multitude of surfaces formed into one. The plated appearance of the waist-band was mirrored by the striking collar design with fine polished metal clarity. This is a collection that loves the curve; the subtle sweeping free-hand drawn by a person or crafted by nature that effortlessly finds an expression in flowing fabrics. A beautiful dress in White featured the curve over and under a shoulder and riding high at the right waist. Crystals sewn into a sleeved- cape behind the wearer add a further dimension of shimmer and light perhaps to a late twilight on a Summer night.
Curves appear again in a beautiful floor length Black dress with curved satin silk features wrapped across the bodice of the dress almost to the point of meeting. The individually sculpted shapes combine a curved shape with a straight edge rising to a peak and offering an alternate harmony in the shoulders bands on either side. There are actually two dresses here; one central column dress and an outer wrap off the shoulder cape. The two parts of the whole are constructed in differing fabrics to give a tonal contrast. To the right the signature Lemon-Primrose re-enters the collection with a swift cut wrap around the figure that flowed like liquid around the figure of the wearer. Like being wrapped in a giant ribbon, an on and off shoulder duality expresses relaxed ease and comfort that the designer sought to evoke for the wearer. A long line train in a single sheet of fabric and a feather cuff around the left elbow infuse the look with a feel of texture contrast.
A hint of mint entered the offering in a satin smooth dress that featured an arc inverted against the bodice in an outer layer of double satin. The curve extends through to a cape train with a broad silhouette set against the backdrop of a long line dress. The shimmer of crystals combined jewels into the garment itself with cuffs resplendent through past the elbow and a twin collar around the neck. The duality of fabric and stone set to create a lasting impression. A beautiful metallic weave adds another dimension to a dress featured in a swathe across the bodice that again combined the over and off-the-shoulder look seen earlier in the collection. A shimmering semi-sheer weave gave way to smooth lengths cut around the figure finishing in a small fish-tail gather at the rear of the dress. It’s a comfortable classic eveningwear piece like many of its peers in the collection. A safe choice for many formal events but equally able to make a desirable entrance.
The swirling arc of fabric translated to a stole formed within the dress itself merged into a cape-train. This formed an outer shell of sorts around the White dress worn with a bold slit above the right hip. A pause in the smooth cut of the fabric itself bordered with dark crystals created a colour and textual contrast to the look. The crystal beads almost like a life-like flurry of ladybugs also appeared at the neckline and left elbow band that held the look in place. The woven metallic fabric created over sheer gauzy silk. Sewn with crystal clusters this silk light jacket sat above a high wasted skirt held by thick band. Created in a White-Platinum the sleeves of this dress also featured the same fabric whilst a collar carefully descended through the back lengths to for a train behind the wearer. This like its peers in the freeze above, could possibly form a contemporary wedding dress style.
A blaze of Mauve entered the collection with a single shoulder dress cut away on the diagonal of the left shoulder and right hip. The cape-like upper garment draped around the wearer with a long line loose fit skirt offering the care-free feel of a wrap around Summer sarong almost. Haute Couture doesn't have to be complex to show the high skill with which it molds around the figure. The beauty of the artistry can be found in the simplest of expressions. Like it's peer two looks to the right a band wrapped around the neckline forms an easy collar with fabric descending behind the wearer to a train. The second dress features a cape reaching to the floor forming one such train behind the wearer in a repetition of the double dress layer feature seen earlier in the collection. Sleeves cut open to the elbow amplify the sense of ease and movement conveyed in the swathes of fabric as it moved around the wearer. A central band holding the dress at bodice height and cut-aways flowing through the hips to the full skirt length show a hint of a healthy figure.
Two off the shoulder dresses in White both feature border bands around the neckline with a loose cut dress dropping to the floor length below. The first look carried a hint of Indian design to my eyes with the rich embroidery rippling across the surface. The bias cut cape-like border swept down beyond the shoulder to the mid and lower arms in a rich double layer with ample fabric circling. This look like it's fellow pieces would make a noticed, yet subtle, entrance to a room or gallery during an event. To the right it's match is embroidered with fine crystal detail in a sweeping curve at the neckline. The generous cut of the dress leaves plenty of room for dancing and moving through the warm summer evenings and will help the wearer stay cool. To the right a chain-mail jacket bodice in Rose-Platinum teamed with a long flowing Rose silk skirt to create a slightly less softened evening or day to evening piece. This look makes a bolder statement when entering the room whilst still carrying notes of subtlety.
As the collection drew towards the finale, there where more pieces for clients and journalists to consider that fitted the Bridal genre more clearly. Long floor length pieces in White or in pastel shades close to White gave a perfect feel of elegance and innovative cutting edge, (no pun intended) styles. A hint of the medieval appears in the gothic arches rising from the waist of a Cream-White trouser suit edges with a gown jacket. Crystals sewn through the bodice in a line to the waist add a ripple of light to the look. A broad feather placed at a right angle to the dress in horizontal across the waist adds a unique epilogue to the garment phrase. Centre above an arc of feathers curled upwards from right waist across the neckline fluttering with soft magic. A texture and tonal contrast of this soft Lilac is featured with a chic double layered skirt dress. A formal train drops behind the wearer easing a sense of elegance into the piece. To the right a Mint dress in dual texture of smooth silk and fine tweed-like weave emphasises a subtly of design that harmonises fabric that create a sophisticated elegant evening wear piece. For an awards ceremony, film premiere, or a bridal possibility there are many potential avenues to take this look down.
Below two beautiful looks to close this selection from Grimaldi this season. As a whole it's quite apparent that he favours a minimalist look with a little something extra added into the mix. The curved neckline reappeared in a beautiful Lilac dress that again comprised a dress with a cape-train worked into the lengths of the look. A shower of crystals fell about the left side of the hip shining in abundance around the wearer giving her a goddess-like aura. The collection closed with an undoubtedly bridal design. A curved dipped neckline was surmounted by crystal jewels set upon sheer silk gazaar that descended through the length of the dress with an emphasis placed on the cinched waist above the hips. An outer mantle cut with a drop to the front of the figure extends to a train of around 2.5 to 3m behind the wearer as also echoed in the preceeding dress. Shoulders are modestly covered as, in tradition, all brides have been and this look would be readily translatable to an international client base. As with all haute couture it serves as a template for what you may often request but in these examples Grimaldi shows his insight into a vision of minimalsim combined with prettyness that inspires delight.