Haute Couture Spring & Summer 2021
January 2021 saw us heading towards a full year of living with Covid restrictions in many parts of the world but Paris and Rome where determined to march forward and keep the industry and the many jobs that it supports alive. Life itself could have been a key theme across many collections with a noted use of colour embraced by many Houses to help boost everyone's spirits.
Images (c) Valentino
Valentino brought colour this season to the catwalk with soft pastels. The opening look of the collection featured a very creative combination of Magenta Hot Pink ankle length knitted dress with a tessellated square design loosely jointed to allow for movement between the parts. I see perhaps a link to Valentino’s early years in Rome during the 1960’s when this, as one of Italy’s many style capitals, saw huge changes in fashion created for a client’s turning their eyes towards the future of style and design with a new perspective. The models walk on astonishing platforms of Golden raised shoes to dramatically elongate their silhouette line but also perhaps symbolise in the eternal city, that they stand upon a long history of strength. The next look to the right is composed of a charming light-Pink knitted dress cut open at the side, Sand coloured trousers and a Hot Pink lightly quilted jacket. Created in out-sized the jacket will stave off the chill airs of early Spring and be snug and warm with a flash Italian minimalism.
A girl behind a Golden Mask; what could this hint at? The prisoner of legend from the French Bourbon or closely related Stuart Royal family in the 17th century or simply one of today’s fashion clients channelling the world of inner self and mystery. Perhaps as a part-time history researcher I’m seeing too far here ;-) as there are also a plethora of contemporary electrical gadgets and gizmos to enhance the skin that also take the form of a mask. A Rose-Pink dress crafted in the form of a sweater dress is finely woven with roll neck collar and long sleeves. Once again this is another piece that speaks of comfort and soft elegance and ease. In such times as these, it’s a blessing in itself.
To the right the pressed frames of trousers sit beneath a White sweater with Rose-Pink polo shirt underneath. Happily mixing the male and female through this collection, it’s a look that could be worn by either and Valentino combined Men’s and Women’s collections along-side each other and some pieces are interchangeable between the genders. Farthest right a beautiful White dress blends the shirt dress and the fishtail gown. The crisp details of the haute couturiers White blouse make up the composition of the upper part of the garment, descending through to a floor length skirt with a flowing train behind above the elbow Taupe opera gloves set off the look to perfection. This for me is a very imaginative yet classic contemporary piece that would be a wonderful addition to a wardrobe.
Sumptuous would be the only word to use to describe the next look with a diaphanous Blush-Nude raincoat gathered around the model above a chunky warm soft knit Olive coloured dress. It's soft and light yet cosy and protecting. A statement look but one that gently envelops the wearer, rather than asking for attention. You could happily twirl and 'sing in the rain' in this piece. The classic late 1950’s and early 1960’s fit and flare silhouette returns in a day to early evening look featuring a Blush sweater with a ribbon banding at the shoulders at the upper sleeves and falling gently to the hips. A Rose skirt with Magenta tulle under skirt giving it full body and shape strikes an elegant line. It’s an easy comfortable composition to wear and would look beautiful in the sunshine.
Pink sparkles appear in the form of out-sized sequin-like discs sewn in strands over a sheer Rose vest. This clothing jewellery moves as the wearer walks in Hot pink shorts pressed with the crease line of trousers. Metallic lustre gleams in the above knee boots that stand on six inch platform soles. Its peer to the right similarly features Golden boots in the same design underneath a beautiful Hot Pink coat and blouse. A White border bands a boat neckline underneath the coat that is interestingly cut in an off the shoulder design. It adds a touch of romantic adaptation to the classic single-breasted design. There is a strong feel of classic simplicity in this collection and the dress to the right cut as a single piece across the figure whilst cut to gentle excess in a soft elegance. These are very comfortable garments for the wearers to pass time in be it during the day or the evening and no doubt pieces to collect and care for in the long term. Again this model wears a Golden face mask hiding her true thoughts within.
Daywear taking its cues from the classic men’s tailoring and crossing it to the Women’s contemporary wardrobe is frankly practical in times like these and since the 1970’s has been somewhat mainstream after a debut in the 1930’s in Hollywood. A crisp White shirt is cut to above the elbow with Chocolate Brown gloves in abundant fabric reaching from beneath it through to the fingertips. Above sits a Rose Pink sleeveless tunic top with a soft roll-neck and falling to the hips. This is another comfy look with gentle excesses of fabric to create the cosy feel. The sleeveless tunic returns again in the form of a very light Taupe coloured dress banded with a soft tie at the waist. Matching above the elbow gloves and tall Silver metallic boots in the ‘mode’ of the collection.
That look began a sequence of single colour blocking through the looks that passed before the camera. Next a Cream-White blouse matched to a skirt with bold front silk above the knees and a luxed-up ‘bomber jacket’ with outsized pockets at the breast. A soft Primrose Yellow joined the subtle seasonal kaleidoscope with a chunky knit sweater, wide legged trousers and large out-sized blazer creating a casual composition. The perfect light summer coat to disappear into like a great big hug appears in the final frame of this frieze with a Taupe coat matched to a Chocolate light sweater framed with Olive roll neck and a Cream-Taupe midi-length skirt. It’s an easy look for daytime, meeting friends, going for a walk to simply relax in.
The muted colour palette continues with soft Taupe, White and light Milk Chocolate in combination as shirt, trousers and jacket in a perfectly composed alignment. I admit to being quite in love with the coat as a staple that could easily be carried through into early autumn. It has the look of a ‘borrowed from the boyfriend’ piece that you could easily sink into and feel extra snug inside. Shimmer and sparkle make a definite entrance with a bandeau bodice clinging to a model walking on high platform shoes matching her above the elbow gloves. A long Cream-White skirt reaches from above the hips to the ankles cut straight with a side split to aid movement.
Centre above shimmer takes the focus with a composition of giant Golden sparkles creating a liquid-like effect through the length of a full-body jump suit. The model is also masked with one of the Golden faces, ready for carnival perhaps or to face the topsy-turvy world we inhabit at the moment due to the interruption of many norms thanks to Covid. She also walks on high platforms of Gold and is cloaked in another of the enveloping, inviting coats cut to a larger size for the wearer. Snug alongside the scintillating, and quite a happy mixture. An off the shoulder floor length sequinned dress features a subtle ombre graduation of colour through its length with practical invisible pockets Golden shoes peeping from underneath the hemline. To the right another design featuring graduated detail from the shoulders utilises shape again as fabric discs are jointed together in much the same way as squares in the opening ‘passage’ of the collection. It’s an interesting nod to the new creative aesthetic of the 1960’s across Europe. Beneath a Chocolate sweater and light Chocolate Brown trousers are a barely visible discreet composition for daywear that have almost ultimate flexibility in the wardrobe.
Innovative colour contrasting opens the next series with a Taupe blouse, skirt and Chocolate waistcoat contrasting with Orange over the elbow gloves and knee length Golden metallic boots. This is a look of great confidence, worn as a whole or broken into its constituent parts. A White polo neck shirt beneath a light Taupe open-neck rain coat conjours another easy to wear style that feels like a pretty universal look to wear. Again, as with many of the simplest looks in this collection, the model wears a mask to hide her true feelings perhaps as she walks in the changed world. A Beige trouser suit ensemble looks simultaneously striking but also slightly invisible due to the very subtle colour scheming. Gold liquid powder is painted across the cheekbones of the model in a flash of light that faintly resembles a mask. This dual-gender look perhaps nods to Roman gods who often adopted whichever form they chose when walking amongst the mortals.
A soft Taupe is worked into a long sweater dress tunic with matching trousers emerging from underneath. This look shows the first hint of Blue entering the collection in long above the elbow gloves, just barely visible from underneath the garment. Furthest right this colour palette continues with Blue emerging a little more into the light as a Baby Blue tunic vest sits below an outer vest and jacket. In an intriguing design twist the sleeves of the jacket are cut to allow the arms to run through aside from the sleeves themselves, whilst Nude shorts pressed into no-nonsense pressed lines are offset by a brilliant flash of Silver light in the metallic boots.
A stunning cape-gown dress in an Angelic Blue is one of the most beautiful looks altogether of the collection I think with this beautiful colour infused with light wrapped over the models figure. It flows like liquid across the shoulders and down through the length of the skirts to above the ankles. Flashes of Golden light appear at the cheekbones and in the shoes bringing the feel of religious Christian imagery and paintings perhaps, aptly in Rome, to the catwalk. This beautiful Blue appears again in a tunic vest with roll-neck teamed with Grey tweed woven midi length trousers and a sleeveless partly deconstructed jacket. It’s a step in an unconventional direction as the collection progresses showing that a key theme of this seasons offering is combining the classic with the innovative. A light Aqua-Blue vest and this jacket worn differently appear again with collection signature Golden boots on a raised platform.
Moving the colour scheme back towards the soft and subtle, a sleeveless Nude dress with cowl neckline sparkles with a thousand tiny shimmering lights of sequin and crystal. Nude over the elbow gloves and matching platform shoes seal the look with liquid Gold spreading across the cheekbones and above the eyes. With a change of shoes this would be an amazing dress to dance in through the summer nights and the soft-Taupe-Blush could easily slip into an early autumn wardrobe. A beautiful light daywear ensemble features to the right with a cowl neckline tunic, deep open collar shirt and trousers and a coat. Again looking to the need to be adaptable in changing times perhaps, this complete look could easily walk forward into the autumn wardrobe in its muted shades and gentle layering approach. Almost uniquely this look is accessorized by a shimmering Golden bag that could easily hold many handy things.
Light knitwear is always a glorious thing in the summer and above a White dress constructed seemingly simply but with the expertise of the atelier, this has the easy look of summer afternoons about it. It’s a wonderful piece to relax in and watch the world or explore whilst in vacation. With the dress skirts reaching to a small train it will make an elegant entrance. A soft Yellow resembling Saffron or Egg Yolk dances across several looks in the next part of the collection. From a jacket comprising elements of the tunic cape as well as an off the shoulder jacket, a lower tunic in Taupe matched to trousers in the same colour would bring the feel of contemporary art to the scene that the model enters.
A White shirt and trousers with Saffron-Yellow waistcoat offers a smooth look of convention with inspired tweeks and design. To its right also an offering of a comfy sweater with roll-neckline and A-line circular cut White skirt also make an elegant composition. Innovation is brought forth in the soft cuts that suggest sleeves with arms seeming to emerge from the jumper without any visible break in the line of the surface of the fabric. Technically and visually this is a beautiful achievement. The reduction of an outfit to the simplest components continues in the final look of the frieze with a Saffron tunic dress accessorised by light Taupe over the elbow gloves and Golden platform shoes. It’s striking, yet simple and I think could as easily be worn in the evening as in the daytime.
As the collection draws to a close sparkle is unleashed in full force with the angelic shimmer of Golden light beaming across like a message. The form of a sweater is recreated in shimmering Golden sparkle and a high polo-neck shields the wearer from any chills of spring. Long line gloves in thick fabric echo more of the men’s style than the women’s traditional wardrobe and the sharp creases once again in the trousers demand to be taken seriously. A Platinum-Silver dress speaks to the Silver screen goddess era or this being a House of Rome, simply a Goddess of any place in time perhaps. Its a wonderful piece that a large number of clients could wear across territories and again could live longer past its debut season and be worn for Christmas.
Like its neighbour in clear bright Yellow Gold it has a beautiful train that drops behind the wearer as she walks emphasising the classic elegance that has won Valentino many clients over the decades. The sweetheart neckline changes to a deep cut V neckline and the gathers under the bodice meet at a vanishing point at a swirl knot at the waist. The finale piece sees the bridal dress transformed into a fiery metallic full length gown. Fitted at the bodice and reaching broadly out through the full lengths of the skirts, this look is banded by a soft ribbon of fabric at the waist beneath the wearer’s face masked in Gold once again. What she thinks is very difficult to guess.
Images (C) Alexis Mabille
Mabille creates highly luxurious Haute Couture that clients want and also in line with what clients want, he has a talent for creating the new and sometimes going off on a little tangent to experiment and surprise but never really shock the audience. In essence he creates a confection to choose from each season and his is one of the most anticipated collections in Paris.
The collection opened in demure Navy Blue with a figure hugging piece that features the most beautiful scrolling Gold and Silver embroidered motif across the surface like the décor of 18th century grand panelled interiors. With scrolling floral leaves descending from wither side of the neckline to join at the breast and then fall to the hips below dividing once again and cleverly echoing the natural shapes of the feminine form hidden within. It’s ultra-feminine and yet also conveys a note of strength in the formal lines at the shoulder, a softened echo of military dress lines. A navy Blue satin belt cinches the waist with a Golden buckle shaped like an antique picture frame or lozenge. Defining the figures centre border only the flash of Red from the shows beneath the hemline, just visible break the fluidity of the colour scheme.
The raincoat gets the sparkle factor treatment with a Navy Blue piece covered in large sequins shimmering and moving with the wearer as they walk. Cut to mini-dress length, this look is bold enough to knock and clouds from the sky with it’s giant button and mid-sized lapels. Ankle boots featuring a cut-away of the fabric illustrate Mabille’s ability and maybe desire to move away from the genre of the classic evening dress.
Centre above the cowl neckline returns to evening dress with a Baby-Rose full length dress utilising this to maximum effect with four successive drops below the neck. Split sleeves tied at the elbow create a soft amount of volume and the lengths of the dress flow around the figure in a soft circular cut with a little volume added compared to the first look in the series to the left. A tiny belt cinches the waist, not much more than show-lace thick barely impacting on the design flow. The tuxedo dinner jacket gives the style cue for a beautiful Black dress sculpted at the bodice with sweetheart style lapels. The double breasted form is sealed about the waist cut to clients figure to give a striking silhouette emphasising leg length in the dramatic cutaways. To the right Olive Green enters like a soft whisper with folds of satin silk running across the surface of the dress. I’m seeing echoes of Ionic columns as a Classicist perhaps as bands of fabric curve convexly at the bodice and outward in a layer form across the hips. It echoes perhaps a little of the work of Charles James or Jacques Fath from the Golden Age of Post-War Haute Couture but this very much carries the imprint of Mabille and would grace events public and private around the world with ease. Also like many of his pieces, it has feel of collectability and timelessness about it.
A liquidy shimmer of light from giant Blue sequins returns once more with a beautiful floor length dress featuring a dipped circle neckline and long sleeves to the wrist. The model transforms into a manifestation of pure liquid energy as she moves before the eyes of the audience. It’s an amazing effect to catch the light and would be very memorable seen on a client. Adding a small hint of theatre a dress in a lighter shade of Royal Blue to floor length flows free over the figure. A clear thick ribbon border of silk is composed along the line of the cape-hood beautifully crossing the figure of the wearer in front at the waist. With an air of mystery created by the suggestion of the cape or a monastic habit, the dress certainly lends itself to the ‘gliding silhouette’ whilst subtly defining the figure.
Centre above the mode of exploration of definition of the waist continues. A warm Gold silken pyjama dress, as I term it, uses the broad ribbon silk band effect. The four fold cowl drape seen in the above frieze of the Olive dress is transformed into five tiers of cowelled drape across the upper arms. The body of the dress’ tunic jacket is accented by broad silk lapels with a twist-fold to create a collar and add depth to the shape. Folded under a thin central belt a second tuck sees lengths of fabric flow through the garment to the floor, cut with graduated with and on the bias angle to replicate the ‘presentation cut’ of ribbon. Culottes trousers are cut very broad as palazzo pants creating a swirling motion of volume as the wearer walks. A Golden light-filled theme continues with the next look as the upper structure of the classic late Medieval/ Renaissance men’s formal shirt composed into a shirt-dress. Formed in the pleats running from beneath the collar bone to the hem of the dress, the waist is bounded by a golden circlet that resembles the old girdles that held chatelaine chains of keys and amulets. Cut with soft volume through the arms and the skirt length, it’s an easy piece to wear. To the right a bold sheer White mesh dress reached from a low-cut sweetheart neckline to the floor across the surface of a Cream-Satin bodice. Fine long feathers of the type often seen in millenary form cuffs at the wrists adding a style contrast of volume to finish the look alongside shoes.
One of my personal favourites from the collection was a beautiful White sheer lace dress cloaked in a short light Black sheer lace jacket also tied at the waste. In terms of design and technical excellence, it’s a beautiful piece, with Italian and perhaps Spanish influences it is a confident look to wear through hot afternoons and nights in the Summer months. The lace of the dress is woven in a fascinating weave with a snake-like shape winding down the length of the figure and overlapping escallops around them resembling reptilian scales. There is nothing threatening about this look though and it’s completely soft and light. For people feeling a bit more reserved I think it could be also styled with a satin White or Cream-White under dress to make it opaque with a lace outer shift. The hint of the costume of the Spanish matador returns once more with a blouse cut to incorporate a cape shape and trousers belted at the middle with a high thick satin-silk ribbon band. Beneath the caped outer layer of the blouse if the finely detailed embroidery of the shirt subtly nods to the great expertise that Mabille has built in his atelier. Set off with chandelier crystal earring the outfit is a statement piece for dates, receptions and events.
Centre above a beautiful dress features two sheer nude fabric panels through the side lengths of the dress dotted faintly as in the style of stockings and tights. Running from the shoulders through the sides of the bodice to below the arms sleeves, two clouds of butterfly’s flutter through the sides of the figure in a three dimensional profusion. It’s a beautiful piece for eveningwear. To the right a soft-Blush Rose Pink froths around a model with a blouse composed if pink pleats fastened by a thick braided waistband. The dress below falls in soft lengths. Cut in a generous A-line style with fabric to spare to make swirls around the figure, the dress is an easy piece for day to evening formal events with a serene soft volume. Shell like soft drapes at the sleeves and subtle moulding of the undergarments add barely there gentle curves to the piece. To the right a Nude-Taupe blouse and skirt combination once again use the feature of panels with a dipped shape cowl again around the shoulders overlaying the blouse itself. It’s a strikingly modern design contrasting gently with the hints of Edwardian school girl in the skirt of the look below. The crossed long sandal lines of the gladiatrix or the fairy shoe dotted with flowers give an ethereal carefree feel to the composition.
Taupe mixes with Blush in a beautiful harmony that I don’t quite recall seeing before or certainly recently with a full length dress beautifully designed in the two shades. The long gown-dress style, I call it this as it’s the wrap over long style of dress adapted from the Victorian day dressing gowns. At the sleeves three things are happening with smooth fabric crossing through the shoulders, three ribbon tiers of silk at the upper arms and soft concertina balloons at the sleeves in alternate Taupe and Blush fabrics. A jewelled brooch seals the look at the waist with a hint of vintage.
Florals appear to close the collection in three different dresses all communicating a light summer romance. A Baby Blue or Old Blue base note plays across the fabric with flowers dancing in Pinks and Silver Whites around the circle of the dress skirt. Like it’s contemporaries in this frieze it’s a possible wedding option for a second evening dress or a something for grand formal events through long summer nights. You have a sense of the lightness of the fabric as well as the beautiful hand sewn detail across the surface with flower petals flickering around the neckline. A small belt is again placed at the waist but I think even without the belt, this piece would be beautifully simple to wear.
To the right two dresses feature a signature print from Mabille in an inspired design that hints at a Midsummer’s Night Dream. The soft romance of Faery land sweeps over the fabric but perhaps I imagine this to myself. A dipped hemline dress is crafted with a knee-length ensemble falling to a beautiful long train behind the wearer to the rear. Like a modern Lady of the Fairy people she walks with sleeves created in soft cascades of fabric. The final look of the collection could indeed be an alternative bridal dress with a soft Taupe chemise paired to a skirt in the light signature fabric. Across the surface of both this dress and its former, soft feathers gathered in clusters float like sea anemones in the gentle current of the air. The dress is in fact composed of two layers with a Taupe full layer under skirt hidden beneath the dance of the flowers.
Images (C) CHANEL
Chanel channelled romance to walk us into Spring and Summer 2021 and given the past year that we’ve all experienced a little light journey to a romantic land was in some way a dose of emotional medicine that we all potentially needed. With characteristic determination in the pattern of the House’s founder, the models strode forth with a return to the catwalk in front of a small invited audience.
The opening look for me, steeped away from the defined lines of the House’s heritage and channel a more folk-traditional look from 18th and 19th century Europe. The romance of the rural life across the vast tracts of land of the continent echoed through the design. With a sheer White blouse and semi-sheer voluminous skirt cut with the stencils of tiny flowers, it speaks to the beckon of the countryside. The waist is bounded by an almost invisible chain from the Chanel classic handbag series’ and makes a second delineation of the outfits two halves. It’s an easy look to move in and would be comfortable for events in warmer climbs.
The beloved Chanel boucle tweed is composed into a trouser and waistcoat set that ensure the wearer would be warm enough through the lighter ends of the season potentially without a jacket, although a jacket could be added to the look at any point. Options are varied with Black Chanel tweed or a complimentary colour fitting the bill probably the best. Or a Blue-Denim jacket in a fabric- tonal mood contrast. Large shinning buttons borrow from the classic double breast and shoes making more than a nod in the direction of the ‘spatz’ of the early 20th century evoke the masculine modes of dress that took Gabrielle Chanel on a journey of identifying what aspects of men’s tailoring may work for the woman’s wardrobe.
Centre above a coat-dress formed in a fabric vaguely similar to one I have in archive to make things from is cut in a straight line down the figure with a centre seam closed to a modest length at the front of the garment and two tiers of double pockets at the breast and the hip. It’s uncomplicated to the eye but doubtless immaculately put together. To the right, a Spanish influence enters the collection with a shortened version of the classic 18th century dress accented with four tiers of tulle gathered around the central dress coat and running through the length of the garment to the knee to form a skirt of greater volume. It’s a beautiful whimsical look completed with a sweet bow at the centre waist that has the air of celebration about it. To the right a Golden Sunshine themed look appears with a silk blouse appearing under a woven jacket and complementing a skirt. The bouclé weave of the jacket and skirt are complemented with strands of the Sunshine-Gold intermingled with soft Rose and Cream-White. Without the flash of colour it would be a chic muted, perfectly agreeable piece but the colour, not overdone, takes it up a level and a broad necklace with chunky Amber stones adds extra warmth.
A blouse in soft Red appears with ruffled detail at the shoulders and upper arm accentuating the impression of a Spanish influence on the garment. The soft fabric cloaks the figure sitting above White trousers employing the bouclé weave at the garment seam. Two more waist-coat and trouser looks appear in soft Rose-Red and light Green. There is a gentle natural harmony to these pieces with the waist-coat jackets sitting softly on the shoulders and the two jackets cut in contrasting designs. One is cut in a more square form with broader shoulders, twin sets of pockets and a round neckline, whilst it’s counterpart in Green has narrower shoulders a pocket at each hip and a classic V neckline. In a curious contrast flower garlands adorn the hair with the masculine toned shoes are worn on the feet.
You shouldn’t perhaps read too much symbolism into this I think as Gabrielle Chanel herself was very aware that women needed to have their strength to move forward or simply sustain and it was not, in any way, the preserve of men. To the right, a strong statement walks forward with a sequinned mini-dress off-set by generous amounts of dotted netting tulle. Cut-away sleeves at the neckline give a geometrical effect to a soft feminine sheer fabric whilst a netted skirt centred from the reverse of the figure falling above knee height adds both volume and playful effect in its cut-away form.
Soft Baby Rose Pink appears in a dress that for the first time, I think, uses the classic Chanel weave crafted into the form of a dress evoking Bohemian tastes and nostalgia. An off-the-shoulder Bohemian neckline is set with a soft drawn-string detail featured also in the base of the bodice. A child-like bow sits at the neckline beneath ruched gathers. A dual layer skirt, graduated into two tiers and gathered in the hem of the upper tier in a point below the waist enhances the soft feel of volume in the dress. It’s actually quite a child-like composition in many respects or a dress that evokes the ease and simplicity of care-free childhood days. To the right a skirt suit is rather daring featuring a jacket sitting open at the waist without a blouse or vest underneath. The model walks with a crown of Apricot and Lavender coloured roses around her head and if filled with the aura of beauty of the new season.
A hint of Flamenco tradition enters the collection in the next look with a crisp White elbow length blouse with Black bow tie at the collar is matched to a full-length tiered skirt. Frothy layers of Pink, Blue, soft Lime and White create the look of a garment honouring the heritage of south west Europe as well as a cool, yet playful piece for formal occasions in the summer sunshine. To the right, the classic Chanel tweed suit is evoked in a look appears more like a dress. In soft Rose woven fabric, it’s buttoned from collar to waist to give the semblance of a jacket. It’s a piece that embraces the inherent neat simplicity that is the classic ‘thumb print’ of Chanel and could be worn for many formal or semi-formal occasions during the daytime.
A woven tweed jacket sewn with crystals sits open and above the waist to reveal a White blouse channelling heritage crafts and featuring broad pin-tuck pleats. It looks casual and relaxed referencing the contemporary note of ease in modern Haute Couture. Trousers are cut with ease around the figure foreshadowing the options you have at the atelier when ordering an Haute Couture piece. Shimmering Silver fabric gives way to a side-seam of bouclé tweed running the vertical length in an echo of sports trousers. Oversized cuffs folded back over the base of the sleeves give an air of casual cool and hints of ‘Borrowed from the Boyfriend’. Sneaking a hint from the masculine wardrobe, as Gabrielle Chanel did herself on many occasions, the next look features a waistcoat with a knee-length pencil skirt in contrast to the customary trousers. The waistcoat is softly embroidered with flowers in a Rose silk in a subtle juxtaposition to the check weave of the skirt. A double buckle of the shoes echoing the classic darkened toe area and dual detail at the left wrist is another sweet symmetry reminder.
Centre above a tweed waistcoat and jacket in almost matched weave sit above a pair of sports styled trousers cut, once again, in woven tweed fabric. Like its predecessor far to the left, it overtly channels the masculine line of tailoring that men wore in the early 20th century but this is blended with athleisure wear and once again the spatz shoes. What is the message here, the rise of athleisure wear in fashion and high fashion has meant that in many collections, it finds a little place. Perhaps the craving for comfort and relaxation is drawing fashion this way but the upper part of the outfit. Executed with the skills of the Chanel Atelier it takes it’s place on the catwalk as high fashion. To the right in a first I think for what I’ve seen from Chanel; Broderie Anglaise in Black is worked into a beautiful two-piece suit. Both high-waist jacket and matching skirt are light pieces, superbly executed with a generous cut across the figure. Yes, the models are petit but it illustrates to me that the clothes are created for comfort, very much to the needs of the client. This is the original premise for Haute Couture but I think in the eyes of clients in recent decades, they have felt the need to slim or change themselves for fashion when it should be the other way round. Furthest right a floral chorus of Apricot, Rose and soft White whirls around the model in a perfect harmony. It’s a dress for Summer full of sunshine, love and delight in three playful layers echoing the tiers of the traditional country dress of many European countries. You can dance, glide and simply have a good time in this piece.
The soft style of late 18th century is reawakened in the form of a sheer White shirt dress featuring an echo of the ‘Mantua’. Replete with the double set of two pockets at the breast and hips of the garment, it carries the Chanel signature. It’s bold look for hot summers near the sea perhaps in southern France, Italy and further afield. It could easily be styled with an under slip satin dress for those looking for a more modest approach. Elaborating on a theme of monochrome next a classic White-Silver silk blouse is paired to a voluminous Black tulle skirt reaching to the ankles. It looks quite like the famous ‘Bar’ look of Dior funnily but it captures the mode of elegance that is entwined in the House codes.
To the right a raised relief of stencil cut flower shapes twirled around the surface of the dress creating a beautiful movement as the wearer walked. Like a rippling field of flowers in the darkness of night time. This is a fun cocktail dress for Black tie or Red Carpet that would last through several seasons. Set in the Summer collection it could evoke a frosty midnight garden feel for the Autumn and Winter. To the right a melange of Blue, Red and Golden swirls across a dress with sheer lower lengths embossed with fine Black lace. This look is essentially a coat-dress with a lower sheer skirt created in outsized fine crochet weave. It’s a light, yet slightly dramatic look for summer time carrying the echo of practicality in the front pockets.
A soft cut dress in Black with sheer lace banded detail of alternate lace and embroidery in the skirt is sewn with White Camellias across the bodice. The House flower, is a key feature of the garment bringing hints of Bohemian with the contrast of semi-opaque, sheer and flower sewn friezes. The long sleeves keep the piece headed in a slightly more formal direction whilst a fabric floral demi-crown surrounds the head of the wearer.
A midi-length broad skirted dress in a very soft Rose-White fills out to the classic late 1950’s and early 1960’s silhouette. Dotted with small circles and hand sewn crystals that will bounce the light about it’s a piece that both makes a statement but also has the air of play and fun about it that brings a fresh life into exploring some of the heritage of Chanel under Virginie Viard. The classic fit and flare of the post-war Golden Age of Haute Couture and the early ‘Rock and Roll’ era is a classic shape that has time less appeal. To the right a figure wrapping dress in a very light Rose-Taupe or Blush colour is cut as a modern classic with a daring sheer out-sized crochet dress bodice and a full length tulle skirt echoing the look in the previous frieze. It’s a bold party or Black-tie statement look that would also suit Red Carpet appearances internationally. A sweet wrap of tulle fabric to make a cross across the bodice creates a romantic feel to the garment in the Chanel tradition to prevent it looking more conceptual perhaps.
The broad shapes of the late 17th and 18th century court dresses return again in the first look above in a soft Baby Blue. A wide crochet frame blouse sits on the figure inside a feather light soft waistcoat jacket nipped in at the middle to emphasise the figure. The famous Chanel chain encircles the waist in a thinly crafted circle and the tulle skirts flare out down through the figure to the floor. It’s part convention, part daring to be different with the softness of the figure. Centre above hints of the flamenco dancers of Iberia appeared in the Baby-Rose soft creation of a bolero jacket trimmed with manifold layers of ruffles. Beneath a dress in the same colour sits gently on the figure with skirts fringed also in the same flamenco ruffles cascading around the models lower legs and feel creating a wave-like motion and appearance as she walks. Again the waist is bound by a tiny signature chain as seen in recent seasons in clothes and accessories at Chanel.
To the right beautiful simplicity is emphasised in a Black dress embellished with fine Gold braiding to create a diamond lattice through the length of the figure. Skirts composed of a triple tier sequence through the length are sewn with a seam that faintly echoes the classic boucle twill of the classic Chanel tweed collections. But this is summer, time for lightness of garments and maximum fun factor for the evenings. This is a classic look with its two slim shoulder straps, soft A-line and bandeau neckline that could carry through several seasons. Easily worn with a jacket and/or a mini bag from the array of the contemporary Chanel collections it’s an adaptable complementary creation.
Out-sized crochet Camellias weave around the figure of the first model to the left with a raised relief of flowers over the base layer. A third layer of detail is provided by the addition of small detailed flowers in about 1/5 ratio size sewn across the surface. A mini-dress is accented by a wide outer skirt as worn on the 18th century dress garments of women and a simple Black bow ties around the waist. It’s a eveningwear look spiced up with White fishnet tights but sheer nude or light tan skin tone tights could also be used for a more subtle look. Centre above as the collection draws to a close, there is another beautiful example of using tulle as both a skirt and in crossed layers of fabric across the bodice for beautiful effect. I’m drawn to the image of the ballerina here somehow, yet Chanel have created a fantasia piece in Black that could as easily twirl across a stage as glide up a Red Carpet or staircase at an Opera House.
The bridal finale piece was one of the most subtle and beautiful of the season. Complete with a White Horse the bride arrived as her own ‘Prince Charming’ in a magnificently embroidered coat dress that came complete with its own train descending from a bow tie ribbon at the back. The bow tied ribbon of childhood hair arrangement has found a place in Chanel’s collections for several seasons and seems set to stay a while longer in its new incarnational as an adult ornament. But back to the dress and what a spectacular piece it was indeed. Tapered out in the lengths from above the knee to form an A line cut, the soft folds of the piece created a delicate tulip dress skirt. A continuous line of buttons running from the central neckline to the dress skirt split opening at the knee echo the styling and deign of the late Victorian and Edwardian era’s when women’s clothes became a little more strict in form. No such rigidity here, just some very beautiful tailoring ideas for clients and fashion editors and future historians of design to look at and admire.
Images (C) Fendi
Fendi make clean cut modern classic clothing that is tailored to perfection in what I would term ‘haute minimalism’. This season the House invited many well-known faces who are long term friends of the brand to walk and in the frieze above Demi Moore, Bella Hadid, Lila and Kate Moss all take turns to show Fendi’s offering this season. A House with a unique footprint in the industry thanks to its co-ownership and management by a group of sisters showed it still had plenty to say about style after several years of turbulence in the world.
Demi walked out in a clean cut Black satin jump suit that was the essence of luxe formality. An almost off-the-shoulder jacket is banded with broad lapels drawing down to a point across the chest that meets with a rise of the jacket waist-band. Soft folds of fabric like a swing of peplum detail. The jacket sleeves are gently graduated through the length to resemble the gentleman’s tie almost from side perspective and gently cut trousers leaving a soft amount of fabric swirling around the figure leave extra room of comfort around the model as she walks. Demi’s look was off-set by long drop earring that resembled necklaces featuring hoops of what looked like of crafted stoneware that gave an earthy connection to the composition. Bella Hadid walked in a space-age shift dress composed of shimmering sheer silk over a pleated Grey satin under dress. It's a striking look for the Red-Carpet season possibly to be on the late Spring horizon.
Lila Moss wore a beautiful sheath dress featuring a sleeveless bodysuit overlaid with a sheer mesh cowl dress shaped with Silver beads of varying size symmetrically placed. As with the previous garment worn by Bella, the dress appears to contain jewellery of its own with tear-drop shaped materials hanging from the neckline of the piece. The hair is also similarly ornamented with these tear-drop lozenges and long boots reaching up over the complete the scene. The look resembles that worn by her mother Kate to the left with a shimmering liquid silver effect flowing from the sweetheart neckline through the lengths of the dress. The deceptively simple-looking design of fabric gathered in a knot beneath the bodice in a floral motif and fold-over sleeve/shoulders really emphasis the joy of creation in the production of this piece. Once again, notice the crafted jewellery hanging from ears above the neckline.
The first look above walked out in sheer dotted fabric that contained magical qualities. Foundation structure bodice and shorts are visible underneath the dress with the soft cut of the skirt creating a beautiful train behind the wearer. It’s a beautiful look for Red Carpet commitments as well as special dinners. A full length White dress hinted at almost monastic overtones, I felt and the piece resonated with a solemn stillness that captured the charm of quiet elegance. A tiny purse hung from the models hands and once again large earring dangled from the models ears almost more resembling necklaces. A soft sheer Sand coloured dress fluted through the lengths and worn open from the neckline to the waist with statement jewellery made a large feature of this total look. In contrast to this minimalism a Platinum-Silver dress is set with geometric design from beneath the bosom line contrasting the natural curves of the figure. A stole of cascading roses ripple through the lengths of the garment giving a pronounced edge of femininity.
One of the male modelled look of the collection illustrated the theme of crossing gender types in styling with a trouser suit completed by a winged cape descending from the shoulders. The superbly cut suit is made from a silk printed in dark Blue-Grey with swirling storm-like patterns dance across the fabric in a silent rage at the elements, clearly beneath the calm exterior, strong emotions are trapped within. Christy Turlington walked in a trouser suit of very similar design but a very different fabric with a sort of Sunset Apricot tone to the same marbled effect and what a difference it made to look. The roses fastening the cape to the shoulders stand out in the lighter hues and the composition feels altogether more relaxed. To the right a Nude toned dress inspired by the traditional dress of parts of Asia appears to be strewn with flowers somewhat making up the main body of the garment itself. With both trousers and a train-skirt visible at the base, it’s a look that takes layering seriously but with the lightness of the fabric, no fear of being overly warm in the sunshine.
Warm Apricot returns in another look that I feel carries inspiration from Asia. A halter neckline is embroidered in a fascinating eave that graduates into a design based largely with coloured pearls flowing through to the lengths of broad sleeves. A dress cut with a small side wrap drops to a train behind the wearer and a beautiful Apricot pouch purse is designed with the traditional snap-fasten close of the vintage purse of the 19th century. Centre above Frida Khalifa wears a beautiful Chocolate coloured dress framed by a cape and designed in a similar print to the two looks in the frieze above. The lighter colours shine like a dim Gold alongside the deep rich Brown. Naomi Campbell closed the collection as the bride who wore a beautiful full length dress once again using the cape-train emblem to compliment and enhance the impact of the main central dress. The overall composition is demure and delicate but shows the indelible fingerprint of confidence and style from Fendi.