Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2021 part 2
Images (C) Giambattista Valli
Giambattista Valli believes in colour, in life and the vibrant celebration that fills every day. In his creations you can see this in the exuberant burst of colour and life. The opening look of the collection has a distinctly Spanish theme with a profusion of tulle layers in Scarlett Red cascading down through the length of the figure. The garment almost reminds me of that of a Spanish doll that I’ve seen in past in childhood and that my grandparents would come across in the Spanish Islands. I was not a dolls child however, more soft and cuddly and/or functional things interested me. Pin-tucked ruched gathers of fabric surround the model and a small scattering of Rose-Pink ribbons and a sheer Scarlett veil lightly draped over the model also signal that this is a potential avant-garde bridal creation. Hair in all three models of this frieze is styled in a bouffant reminiscent of both the 1960’s and the later 18th century in Europe.
Centre above a flurry of silken Red Roses around the bodice, sitting over tulle fabric of the same colour, spill downwards over the upper lengths of a Cream-White tulle skirt set in two drops of fabric sewn with a seam takes the European traditional folk dress and extrapolates it to Haute Couture proportions. A dipped hemline serves to add drama and faery magic to the overall look. To the right another expression of traditional Folk dress appears with an embroidered waistcoat featuring floral hand stitching reminiscent of traditional home woven pieces. This waistcoat comprises the upper part of a dress that descends into the familiar realms of expansive tulle net skirting of Valli’s custom design. In a romance that veers away from the gothic, the outfit still retains the essence of playful nature in its composition. Flowers and bows in the hair add subtle ornament just as pretty as any jewel.
The soft drapes of a dress drawing inspiration from the Classical Grecian daywear and modern dressing robe of the dressing room. Folds gathered around the bodice and descend to the floor in length dropping behind a wound chorded belt. Floral decoration around the hair in two Silver braids of fluttering magic frame the eyes of the wearer. Long sleeves fall to full length cuffs enhanced by clouds of fluffy feathers falling almost to the ankles of the wearer. Centre above a fiesta of Scarlett tulle whirls around the model with a voluminous bodice with tiered tulle sleeves sitting above a skirt with five dropped tiers. Rosettes on either side of her hair frame the face and add another touch of Spanish flamenco tradition to the outfit but still retaining lightness in the volume of the piece. To the right a full Black dress with a ruched silk bodice sitting above a deep tulle netted skirt hardens slightly to the era of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, known in the UK as the Edwardian period. A dramatic dipped hemline rising at the front of the dress, falling to a small train behind the wearer is offset by a swirling fringe of ruffles and bows. This is a sweetheart romantic piece to cherish and have the best time and most amount of in dancing and laughing and making memories.
Black opens the next passage with a dress featuring a barely there bodice festooned in ruffles flowing through to the lengths of a full tulle skirt with a mille-feuille ruffle effect. It’s another echo of the Spanish and Iberian culture of dance and song. In a soft innovation, a fine veil is draped over the head and shoulders of the model falling to the length of the lower skirt. Bordered by a fine tulle froth of pin-tucked ruched fabric it’s an alternative bridal look perhaps for those looking to explore Black. The bouffant beehive hair is styled with Rose flowers in Red and Light-Rose. Set with Baby-Rose Pink ribbons it’s a more soft contemporary feminine look that the traditional Flamenco outfits which seemed to encompass a feeling of stronger strength.
Centre above a soft Baby-Rose Pink is the main feature of the collection with a midi-length dress encircling the figure in a series of tiers from upright ruches at the neckline to tiers of soft layers of fabric falling in triplicate down the line of figure. Black ballet flats’ and White roses set above Light Pink ribbon tied at the base of the pinned curls complete the look composition. The structure of the netted tulle dress of the left above is transposed to the frieze furthest right with a flamenco jacket worn over a blouse utilising the classic dotted theme with a long dress skirt set with bands of ruched fabric sewn over a broadly cut circular pattern dress skirt. Red point toed shoes with Scarlett pompom detailing at the toes and Scarlett coloured old Roses or Peonies. With her hands on her hips, she’s ready to begin a traditional dance of passion and strength.
An organza style dress in the frame features a bride wearing a dress of Valli proportions. White tulle netted skirts cascade off the figure of the wearer with alternate vertical bands of smooth fabric and clouds of tulle. The waist is gathered in a thick band of White–Rose fabric pressed flat around the form to define a waist. A White rose is placed either side of the temple of the head tied with a Cream Champagne silk ribbon at the base. Silky bouffant styled hair combed high over the head is tied back into a soft low tail. A festoon of White feathers edged with Pink and Green hints at the traditional royal colours of Christmas but also of Spring time magic. Looking coyly at the audience she is ensconced in feathers and softness but still with a hard core of inner strength beneath the fluffiness, no vulnerability.
Apricot is one of the most beautiful traditional fabric colours that is not seen often enough in modern times I feel but here to the right it makes a pleasing entrance. People often say the term ‘acres of fabric’ in an emphasis of decadence but I think if you measured out the fabric from this dress you may in fact have part of an acre of tulle netted fabric. Spun around the figure like a magical protective body veil, this garment veers more in the direction of conceptual art than fairy-tale I think. The hair is adorned with Silver-White and Magenta Pink flowers that sit lies natures jewels amongst the Queens tresses. The eyes are circled by a partial mask of Silver leaves to create a portal effect and Magenta flowers encircle the ears with a ribbon of the same colour defining the waist in a gentle tie.
The firm corset frame of the 18th and late 17th century ‘stay’ is transposed onto the first dress above to the left. Silver in colour and running to the knee length it also takes the broad volume skirt sashes of the 18th century and adds volume in Cream-White and silver flowers at the bodice and joined also with pink in the hair add an enhancement of colour and volume. Hair once again is swept up to a height reminiscent of the 18th century and Cream ribbon tying the hair into small pony tails at stages for romantic effect. Centre above a warm flash of sunshine bursts forth with Tuscan Umber and Sunshine streaking through a dress with a soft fabric belt and drops of fabric descending from the shoulders to form a soft version of a cape-train. Once again this look touches more the contemporary art aesthetic than the fairy-tale fantasy direction and to give clients from many different parts of the globe what they want, this is a good approach. To the right a beautiful soft Rose-Pink dress features an alteration to an earlier style with six tiers of fabric including the circular collar reaching to above the knees. This takes the dress into party and Black-Tie territory not strictly formal wear but it still covers heaps of options. The hair is this time ornamented with pale Rose bows and tied in Cream-Rose ribbons. Red ballet shoes complete the look with a soft colour contrast finish.
Coral makes a brave entrance to the collection with a dress that takes its cues from the taffeta heyday of the 1980’s and very early 1990’s formal party dresses. A ruched bodice grasps the figure like a glove with a puffball skirt featuring a dipped hemline descending from the shortest of mini hemlines at the front to the full flowing skirt sweeping the floor at the rear. The bodice is accented with a line of flowers running from the centre of the bodice through to the placement of the waist. Centre above a Sugar Pink mini-dress is banded by flowers in the shape of a letter H at either side of the figure with the bar crossing at the waist line. At the shoulders the colour of the dress is replicated in two large bows, one aside securing a soft tulle train flowing from the shoulders through beyond the height of the wearer falling to the floor behind cut into a crescent moon shape in the echo of a wedding dress train. For many brides this could potentially be a wedding dress option. Peonies or Old Rose fixed above a bow.
To the right a Rose Pink dress once again channels the line of the flamenco dress, a variation of the dress at the opposite end of this frieze. A bodice composed of closely ruched fabric detail is banded by a neckline of fabric folds gathered to emulate the petals of a Rose. A dramatic drop hemline from the front of the dress to the rear could be adapted slightly for clients potentially looking for a more modest approach to dress. As it is though, it will make a spectacular entrance for clients looking to turn heads. The eyes are again beautifully masked by a circlet of flowers that act almost as a mask.
A Rose coat dress is cut to a long column shape and adorned with flowers tracing across the surface like soft garlands placed over the shoulders of the wearer. Petals of these flowers in fabric also frame the eyes in a partial mask adding a feel of mystery to the overall look. A festoon of Rose Pink Peonies behind the ears adds a second floral decoration to the design and soft colour contrast. Centre above the last full flowing dress in tiers of ruffles stretches from the shoulders through to the lengths of the later French Imperial Court Dress behind the wearer. In eight tiers spanning from neckline to train it cloaks the figure over a barely visible Rose mini-dress featuring Silver-White flowers descending in a central narrow cascade and Black flowers and bows above the hears of the model. To the right a male dancer closes the collection wearing an outfit that looks to the ballet world with a soft cut shirt harkening back to the time of the renaissance to early 19th century with sleeves drawn as in the past. In a modern style innovation they are bounded by feathers at the full length. A final bow brings the curtain down on this season’s performance.
Image Credit (C) Elena Kechicheva
The beautiful mystery of the Tarot drew the attention of Maria Grazia Chirui this season and in these uncertain times with people looking for guidance and reasons, be they scientific or perhaps esoteric, for what the world is experiencing, she has reached out to pull the cards and potentially read what fate has in store for all of us. Not something that I have been unfamiliar with at intervals since the final year of school just for fun, it was interesting to see what beautiful confection she would make using this theme of inspiration. In particular she looked to the work of Italian film producer Matteo Garrone and the Italian tradition of reading the cards.
There are 72 cards of the Major Arcana part of the Tarot deck each using human figures to represent a theme or emblem related to human existance. Grazia Chiuri has created looks to interpret them through the petit mains of the atelier into something tangeable to be worn. I only took from 'the deck' what I thought was the most striking and interesting. Grazia Chiuri captures the full lustre and majesty of the Italian Renaissance in these looks, that are destined for clients the world over. Why not dress up and indulge in a little make-believe if it allows you to explore parts of yourself?
To open the collection a link to the ancient resonance between the horse and the human features, with a model embracing her companion who is at her side between thick and thin. The tenderness evident in their connection is evident in how she feels comfortable enough to close her eyes and imagine or dream. A floor length coat dress in cloth of Gold evokes the aura of majesty and the splendour of the cloths woven and traded across the renaissance world. The detail of the craftsmanship is beautiful with flowers and leaves traced across the surface in Cream-White and Green with softly ballooned sleeves adding volume to the garment and creating the broad A-frame silhouette that speaks to the recognisable late-medieval and early modern dress shape. Her hair is crowned with a diadem of shimmering giant pearls that have the varied shapes of the loved traditional baroque jewellery.
A light Dove-Grey dress reaches the length of the floor with flecks of Gold strewn across the surface of the fabric leading downwards to a Gold banded hemline perhaps about an inch thick. The main gown is cut in sleeveless form with soft drapes of gauzy tulle created to form barely there sleeves of the dress. The length of the dress is cut slightly longer at the back to allow for a gentle amount of fabric to fall behind the wearer as they walk. Once again the hair is decorated by a gentle corona of soft light brought by the soft sheen of giant pearls worn in a diadem. To the far right the renaissance love of nature is brought to life in a dress celebrating the floral abundance of the Italian countryside. Leaves and flowers embroidered in the soft golden hued tones of the opposite dress furthest to the left swirl around the figure from shoulders to hemline with a thick golden border stretching from above the ankle to the ground. Structure is given by the visible bones of a light corset at the bodice with a gentle cut of fabric around the figure.
Once again the lady of Dior is shown with her bond to the horse stroking the soft mane and strong back of this loyal and loving creature as she stands half-turned towards the camera. She wears a beautifully embroidered blouse that forms a rhapsody of dentelle lace set into floral forms almost obscuring the beauty of the Nude sheer blouse sleeves. High-waisted trousers compose the form of a light two-piece suited look that is immaculate but still somehow ready for equine adventures. Shoes are formed in a lattice frame design with solid toe points echoing renaissance shoe styles and also capturing the feel of opulence of Gold.
Centre above the shimmer and shine of Golden thread comes more to the fore with a look perhaps emulating the very earliest forms of the mantua dress that was to spread across Europe and be worn, with adaptations, for several generations. Looking steadily at the camera, she holds n her right hand a book, showing the cachet that learning had for many women in many parts of Europe. Although sadly only often women from wealthier families where able to gain an education; some women, like Angela Merici my name sake, did make strides towards opening educational establishments for the education of girls and young women in Italy. With a soft cut bodice sitting over a barely there sheer blouse, there is a light romance about this piece. Again the same Pearl diadem is worn evoking the spirit of the sea in the composition of the garment. Perhaps a testament to great strength as well as capturing the authenticity of the age. The two Golden balls by the models side perhaps represent the spirit of wisdom and balanced harmony that she is gaining by discovering knowledge. To the right the long sleeve sheer blouse is used again to express beauty in a subtle composition with a high-cut bolero style sleeveless jacket matched to a skirt sitting high on the hips of the wearer. A belt fastens the look in and she stands close to a table with a ewer used by younger women of the house to serve guests and also behind a beautifully embroidered Golden quilt placed on the wall to show the wealth of the family household or the skills of the women of the family.
A dress created completely in cloth of Gold sits on the figure in the gentle silhouette of the classic ‘Bar’ dress of the Golden Age of Dior. Channelling the aesthetic of the New Look, this dress is a creation in pure Gold. The eternal metal that is ageless. Richly embroidered in floral symbolism, this piece features a long fringe hemline of about 3-4 inches that has a movement of its own as the wearer walks. Centre above a suit is created in the layering of a sheer Nude blouse underneath a Golden jacket of spun silk and a richly embroidered skirt carrying the same design as the dress in the former look. With vertical pockets at the hips of the jacket this again is a clear signal back to the ‘Bar’ jacket and skirt combination and the signature look of Dior. It’s like the ancestry of the fashion House itself has translated into its descendant, the garment(s) of the current collection. With two Golden orbs again in the set dressing of the picture, it image once again perhaps conveys balance. Head turned 4/5th towards the camera, she meets the gaze of the audience with a confident eye to the future.
To the right one of the looks that encompasses the more conventionally masculine side of the collection in a piece that includes a crisp White collared blouse and Black jacket and slim-line trousers. Wearing the artists beret with a thin dotted netting veil over they eyes, but not the full face, the model and muse takes one sphere in hand and faces the camera in a gesture that would traditionally emphasise skill, mastery and confidence with hands on the hips and chin raised to the viewer, ready to challenge. This outfit is of course beautiful but I was very taken with the soft brogues-style shoes that you can simply slip-on and slip-off. Haute Couture easy-wear and why not.
One of the most beautiful looks of the collection opens this frieze above with a crescent cut neckline forming the ellipse of an oval bodice. Black base fabric is adorned with Golden thread embroidery evoking the images and patterns of the trees and flowers of nature. It’s a quietly majestic piece but she is perhaps a Queen of knowledge as much as anything else. Here I imagine the model pauses in a quiet moment away from family, household helpers, friends, tutors or guests to enjoy some thinking space. He large households of Renaissance Italy where often bustling environments that where like Bee Hives when on a larger scale. A double strand pearl necklace features a drop with a jewel in the lower string of pearls. This simple, yet classic look is very reminiscent of traditional simple jewellery tastes for wearing even pieces of great value in a simple style.
Centre above a sheer dress in Olive floats around the figure of the wearer with gentle cross banding beneath the bodice in the chord-style of the mid and late renaissance. It’s a gentle romantic light design echoing the past but also very like some of the stage costumes created for ballet and opera today. Aside the model books sit on the floor as if placed down after a period of study. As in the Roman tradition people reading and studying in the Italian renaissance and later on would have read out aloud and maybe walked around a room or across a long gallery or garden as they read. A Black vest emblazoned with detailed embroidery and stretch-fit Black legging trousers emulating the smooth fit and line of modern riding trousers compose a no-nonsense look for someone perhaps about to ride one of the beautiful White horses featured. A completely White horse would in itself be a visual symbol of wealth and status in the past as they would have been few in number and very sought after.
Another exploration of the full length gown-dress sees the model cloaked in finely embroidered cloth of Gold in a garment reaching from collar to floor with more than ample room in the generously cut fabric. This look is cut almost in the style of ecclesiastical garments with two small panels of the gown cut partly away at the front of the piece. Wide sleeves with a contrasting Burgundy embroidered fabric on the inside add to the sense that this dress would be a masterpiece of an atelier in any era. Hair dressed on the head in a simple braided ring and drop pearl earrings seen through the collection flag a sense of composed simplicity against the opulence of the dress. A sleeveless dress with an oval bodice accented with embroidery that resembles gilded work features, rather spookily, a skull. The medieval and renaissance culture was very conscious of the fragility of life in an era before modern medicines and sanitation and this is a reminder to celebrate and enjoy life in the moment as much as we can. It also connects to the Tarot card number 13 that symbolises death but also in the sense of re-birth and new chapters as well as mortality.
A cape-like coat dress that resembles the Cope’s worn by clergy features an abundance of embroidery celebrating nature and the flora to be found perhaps in the cultivated Italian gardens that became a fashion throughout Europe. Far from simply beauty, the benefits of herbal medicine were also espoused and endorsed with books detailing botanical methods, knowledge and innovation becoming hugely popular in this period.
Stars and the planets where a large part of the renaissance mind-set and linking back to the interest in astrology divination and the zodiac. In renaissance times, it’s important to remember that there was no distinction between these ‘arts’ and pure science. Astrology was taken very seriously and across Europe many well-known figures in leading political families arranged to have their weddings at the most auspicious time under the heavens, be it day or night. For me the first dress above speaks of the Midnight Blue of the night sky which is a beautiful look on all skin tones. Seen from the reveres above the bodice of the dress is composed of sashes of fabric drawn round the upper figure crossing over at the waist. Gathers of fabric at the shoulder mantle add volume and a statement of regal elegance ensuring that the wearer would be noticed in the rom. Clothes in this era, at least as much as any, where used as a language and means of communication. With pin tucks at the waist gathering volume in the timeless way to create fuller, larger skirts, it’s a classic courtly look.
Centre above a sleeveless dress of sheer Golden toned tulle is sewn with Golden thread in the form of leaves and flowers. Graduated from nearly complete coverage at the bodice and hips to scattered leaves across the circle of the skirts, this dress is a light summer option for formal events in the sunshine or warm evenings. Wearing a pearl diadem like her peers, the model holds a looking glass both testament to taking care of ones appearance and some would believe magical scrying powers to see at a distance. Books open near her at her feet suggest she has just finished studying for the day and the lower placement suggests mastery of knowledge at her feet. To the right another trouser suit features a cropped jacket and trousers that reveal the waist a little under a sheer blouse. The complete ensemble is in Midnight Blue sewn with silver strands to emulate the twinkle and shimmer of the night sky. The buckled belt at the waist sitting over the hips and the firm lines of the trouser creases suggest a sense of order and alignment.
The theme of using the bodice or breast-plate to convey a message through a garment returns again with a dress featuring a large Red disc placed across the bodice. Perhaps in an emblem of love and strength of the heart, it sits over a dress of Gold fabric shimmering in the light and softly gathered around the figure. Wearing the simple baroque jewellery of the collection, she looks at her reflection to ensure all is well in the outfits composition. Centre above a moment of fantasy with a model shown levitating above the floor wearing an elaborate gown-dress of cloth of Gold sewn with threads of the most beautiful Blues and Reds to resemble flowers tossed in the air. It’s a hint of the Magician card perhaps or the greater mysteries of life that we all try to fathom. The air of magic and illusion is enhanced in the fact that we don’t see the face of the model, she is simply turned away in her own private contemplation.
To the right the wise horse, a near-constant theme through this collection appears to nuzzle the hand of a lady wearing a Chocolate-Brown dress. This Renaissance inspired shift dress slightly resembles traditional Indian clothing and brings to mind the possibility of these textiles travelling along the silk road to Italy possibly where they were adopted. The Golden seem bands at the neckline and the lower bodice define this garment and over it sits another beautifully embroidered coat-dress that envelops the wearer and offers a beautiful outer protective layer.
The charm of Midnight Blue appears again in a dress composed of the finest silk crepe folded into hundreds of tiny pleats. It sits on the figure in a soft concertina shape naturally draped around the wearer. The sleeveless arms sit above small drapes descending from the shoulders behind the wearer in the style of the traditional dual small trains behind the model. It’s a style motif that has been used since ancient Classical times through to the 19th century to gently create volume around a garment. A soft belt defines the waist of the wearer and creates the only break in the line from neckline to hem. The classic ‘Bar’ skirt suit is re-imagined with a sheer blouse and fine wool jacket teamed to a semi-sheer skirt. Soft swirls of leaves and feathers appear to float around the surface of the garment enhancing the mood of feminine delicacy and also in a subtle contrast to the clear defined lines of the jacket.
With cards in hand a model wearing a Golden silk full length dress looks away in contemplation. The gown in richly embroidered in Blue, Silver and Golden tones with the signs of the zodiac. It speaks again to the importance of astrology and the heavens in the minds of the renaissance Italians and although these garments echo the lives of the fortunate, this belief and blending of what we now know as divination and science, was part of the collective conscious of a great many people of all walks of life. Again this is science and magic in one and she has the chair.
The eternal element of Gold symbolised strength for many centuries and here it’s shown in a lighter form with a stencil cut-away design. The line of the figure is gently emphasised by the shape of the soft corset-style bodice within the dress. It’s charming, light and romantic and with Gold toes of a shoe peeping out from underneath, full of the joys of the sunlight of summer. A beautiful dress that I think is composed in Rose-Gold appears in the centre of the frame above with an unusual curved triangle shape creating an alternative halter neckline. Strongly indicative of strength, this feature of the garment combines with a soft bandeau bodice surround. Looking extremely modern as well as with a nod to the past, this dress would be a very comfortable easy piece to wear through a long evening events. Cut generously on the figure and with a soft train falling behind it carries the feel of many points in history. To the right a dress cut in the same elongated circular style is cast in a deep Bronzed-Gold. We see the wearer from behind disappearing almost into the dark recesses of her chambers in contemplation or in conversation with an unseen figure. The light from the metallic hues of the dress shines through in the dark and the knotted braid of the shoulder straps and swooping through the curve of the neckline create a simple signature of elegance.
The kaleidoscope of the signs and illustrations of the zodiac play across the surface of a wide legged trouser suit. In a marvel of detail the scales of eternal balance of Libra, the swish of Pisces tail and the sting of the Scorpion dance across the fabric in a happy medley. This is a beautiful exploration of contemporary Renaissance belief made real. Midnight Blue returns again in the collection with a beautiful sleeveless dress sewn along the style lines of formal Court Dress of the 15th and 16th century. Easily recognisable from paintings and historical film and theatre productions, this look possesses a quiet understated elegance that carries grace in its elemental form. A neckline collar is sewn with ruched gathers and bands are formed at the waist and lower hips by bringing in a new piece of fabric gathered in fine pin-tucked gathers. It has a sense of dignity contained within but it’s also sweetly romantic. To the farthest right a dress in soft Rose-Bronze shimmers on the figure with a deep lustre of strength. A single shoulder design carries gathers from the right shoulder crossing the bodice downwards as the wearer walks. Fabric flows the full length of the outfit in an almost mesmerising hypnotic form like liquid metal shimmering and flowing around her. It’s a truly beautiful romantic look carrying the hopes and dreams of an era of thirst for knowledge and love of beauty along with it.
An extraordinary full length dress continues the theme of metallic coloured fabrics, seemingly moving like molten liquid with the wearer. A Golden dress resplendent with full train flowing behind the wearer carried the life of flowers within. A giant Poppy is sewn across the bodice of the dress in a blaze of Scarlett bringing the pulse of life and energy supported by the reassurance of the eternal element Gold. The bodice is created by ruched gathers of fabric sculpted into two soft triangles, again in a deceptively simple-looking style motif from the ancient world. Vines supporting the flowers grow around and across the surface of the garment infusing it with life across the surface.
A flourish of Nude tulle surrounds the model in another combination of Classical Greco-Roman dressing combined with the elements of the Dior New look and also the long line tulle skirts worn by ballerina’s performing today. You could almost expect the model, here turned away, to turn back towards the camera in a half pirouette. The ruched triangle gathers that form the bodice are shown on the reverse to match the front and the ample fabric of the skirt gives a sweet volume to the composition. Farthest right a warm Bronze full-length dress with fine pleat details is mostly obscured by a long Golden brocade robe jacket. Fringe detail at the hem signals a look of vintage and nostalgia whilst also offering guard against the chills of late night air.
A beautiful Golden dress traces complex floral patterns across the surface in bold Lapis Blues creating a vibrant pattern. With a semi-circular round neckline and fabric gathered into bowed ties at the shoulders, it harkens to the Classical world so deeply embedded in the psyche of Renaissance Italy. The deep shine of the Golden cloth perhaps resonates with the hope of returning to the wisdom and knowledge of the earlier era in art, literature, humanities and scientific exploration. In reality in many ancient Universities of Europe and private library collections, the flame had been kept very much alive. A shimmer of Silver appears with a Lady in front of her horse wearing a bold White-Silver dress. She holds a veil over her head, ready to walk forth perhaps into the evening night or out in bright sunlight. She wears a shift dress with formal bodice closed tight around the figure before the form flares to broad skirts through the length of the outfit. The shift hood descends to a soft veil behind the body of the wearer.
A beautiful Blush Rose dress in organza silk fabric is lined with cloth of Gold, highlighting the full splendour of late Medieval beauty. The sleeveless dress is created in the classic fit and flare style with a thin chord around the waist. A small train flows behind the wearer as she walks and these two warm colours are off-set by a flash a light from the lustre of the antique pearls. The final Bridal couture look of the collection features a beautiful Cream-White dress sewn with floral applique at the bodice, signalling the Renaissance garden in full bloom. It keeps the colour continuity of the bridal Whites, whilst bringing part of the Renaissance garden into the composition. She is sitting side saddle on her White horse, as per the decorum of the age referenced her and ready to ride through into a new chapter of her life, turning round, mindful of lessons of the last, as she walks, or rides towards the future.
Images (C) Julien Fournie
For me Fournie is one of the Parisienne fashion designers who is almost a well-kept secret outside of the fashion capital itself. He opens each season collection with a flourish and this was ’first Tempete’ First storm. He celebrates the passion, energy and beauty of women. Looking to get a little more out into the open after some time of Covid restrictions he placed his collection at the scene of a party with streamers and sparkling moons and stars in the air. An Aquamarine Blue raincoat shields a party goer from glittering confetti as she stands on the dance floor. Beneath a skirt with a simple stripped banded pattern running at opposing angels to pleats forms a conventional day-wear look. Centre a Black raincoat is cut at a dramatic asymmetrical angle creating an apron appearance down one side of the figure. A crisp White blouse and Black cigarette trousers complete with look approaching the classic YSL tuxedo including Black tie but with some definite alterations. To the right a hint of the gothic with a full-length Black dress featuring Gold print details through the length of the bodice. Striking and elegant it would make an entrance at any scene.
A beautiful polymer fabric creates a liquid-like shimmer across the surface of a dress, to the left with full sleeves and skirt length. The piece is created in Blush colour with the discotheque lights of the photography set creating the effect of a degredé change through to Aquamarine. Cut with a fully circular skirt, it is a pleasure to whirl in. Centre above a White raincoat and matching long chain bag sit over a soft Aqua Blue dress. Another look that says ‘she’s just arrived and ready for a party’. It’s the anticipation of being able to go out and celebrate that is the magic element here. To the right Black slim line trousers appear once again with a long military style coat cut in Blush fabric descending through the length of the figure. It’s both soft and cute but also serious and strong in its power signals.
Another long-line look appears in a coat cut high at the waist but featuring many subtly cute features such as extra styling detail across the outer surface. Easy to coordinate with any of your own wardrobe or pieces from this collection, the adaptability of the garment reminds me more of how Haute Couture and Ready to Wear used to be produced in many earlier decades. Looks where designed to slip into the wardrobe and blend with other items that you owned. A soft Baby Blue greets the eyes, centre above in a cinematic Baby Blue dress adorned with sequins and crystals at interval through its full length. From the styling of one of the models you can see that Fournie channels the glamour of Marilyn Monroe and the Silver to Colour screen era of the film industry. It’s a show stopper ready for the camera. To the right a more subtle look in the form of a light crepe dress looking serene in the smoky spotlight of the nightclub. The spotlight behind the model somehow stands in for the romance of the full moon and the celebration of feminine beauty. Once again this look is combined with a matching purse.
A day-wear suit is created by a jacket resting on the hips above an embroidered White blouse and an A-Line skirt. Banded at the waist it looks back to the outfits styles of the 1920’s nearly a full century ago when women where in the early years of being freed from the restrictive clothes of former decades. Centre above a beautiful Aqua Blue dress ripples with a millefeuille of small tiers of fabric through the lengths of the skirt to the hips. The bodice is designed with a cross-wrap style of fabric and a curling line of buttons sat close together in the form of Victorian and Edwardian style. A vivid Lavender appears to the right with a beautifully constructed corset visible through a sheer shirt dress. With crystals sewn through the length of the sleeves and a soft belt at the waist it’s a deceptively simply design delicately translated to the figure.
A close up shot shows the detail of the applique crystals on the sleeves of one of the dresses from the collection. Centre above another full-length dress in Baby Blue blends the glamour of the Silver Screen with the ethereal romance of the light of the moon. Soft chains on crystal beads hang across the figure in arced cascade similar to jewellery worn at the neckline. The sleeves are worn long in almost medieval romantic style with splits at the inner elbow to give a graceful sense of movement. To the right a beautiful confection of ruffles cascades down the figure of a model running through Blush, to Lilac and back to Blush. The shoulder straps fall downwards at the upper arms with a Ruffle of Rose created almost like a large fabric corsage below the neckline. Through the side split an under-dress skirt is visible sewn with a sparking myriad of crystals.
The double dress theme is re-created with Dove-Grey garment split to the knee on one side revealing a Salmon Pink tulle underskirt petticoat layer. The dress is accompanied by a jacket also channelling the formal lines of the 1930’s and 1940’s whilst in contrast the under skirt layers speak to the bohemian and carefree- counter formal It’s a contrast that creates much beauty. To the right a Black coat dress also contrasts the formal and informal with a dress buttoned to the rigour the Victorian and early Edward formality opened purposely at the side to expose a White tiered bohemian tiered skirt descending to a final Blue tier at the base. This playful contrast in colour also strikes a note of contrast.
A very imaginative cross of the male and female wardrobe sees an Edwardian era riding dress transformed by the positioning of a male tuxedo breastplate across the upper outfit complete with large Black silk bow. Feathers and an interesting lattice style across the surface of the dress also nod to the Art Deco era that rushed in after about 1920 when people were looking for something new. A jacket dress sewn with flowers in applique on the surface fluttering away from the garment like butterfly’s. Also in this piece the lengths of the coat-dress open to reveal a Bohemian tulle netted dress fringed in layers. Its energy barely contained like a babbling stream of life indie the formality of the coat above.
The collection moves towards its close with more party pieces that give fun options. A full length dress in smoky silk is banded with colourful ribbons of Pink and Blue across the surface as if someone had painted free-style an impressionist interpretation on the gown. why not do this? It’s an avenue of creativity that speaks ‘exploration’ across the design. Centre above a festoon of feathers in smoky Grey ranging in degradé through to Midnight Blue offer a soft, tactile exploration of design for the wearer this season. To close the collection the ‘Bride’ is dressed in a light Baby Blue dress with a surface strewn with applique flowers. A high rounded neckline, full length semi-sheer sleeves and a shift dress outer shell. It’s a beautiful evening wear look with a lot of scope to be worn across the Spring and Summer season.