Paris looks to Autumn

Against a backdrop of uncertainties and change in the world, Paris provided a dose of creative excellence showing that why for two weeks each year in January and July the height of luxury fashion is achieved in the city that has devoted itself to the preservation and showing of this branch of the fashion family tree. It's an amazing experience to be in Paris during Haute Couture week with the beauty of the city off-set by the stunning looks seen by clients and buyers alike.

Images shown with kind permission of respective Houses.


Elsa Schiaparelli believed in love laughter and humour as much as fine clothing and for her fashion was as much about expression of whimsy and delight as well as making a point to illustrate your style. A broad legged jump-suit uses embroidery detail at the lower sleeves accenting a nod to the 1970's nostalgia mood of the look. Pockets in the trousers nod to the quick thinking practicality that often lies behind the designs evoked by Elsa's vision.

Golden shimmer in panels of the above knee dress to the right show how Art Deco themes can easily translate to day wear and make a sophisticated colour splash to become something that has the look of a piece of high art meets hints of craft style patchwork. This is a beautiful item to add to your collection and wear for a special occasion in party season or another time. With it's timeless feel, it could belong to any generation. The elements of moon and stars were also key symbols for Elsa that represented life and above a dress with a face darkened like the moon but still representing the sun with it's stretched out rays symbolises perhaps the fire within during the cooler months of winter. Love is always present with the little hearts at the toes of the shoes. The days may be cool but a fire burns within. Always keen to contrast chain mail metallic shimmer in the upper sleeves sits in juxtaposition with the nature elements. The unofficial House mascot, the Lobster, appears on a white sleeveless piece looking equally as ready for a summer collection as a winter one but if you're headed to the sunshine it would be a wonderful party piece. To the right an eclectic look celebrates a taste for contrasts and the light wisps of a net skirt form a punk inspired image when worn with the multi-patterned jacket. You may just spot the notes of a musical stave.

Dresses with strong evening wear potential make up the majority of looks in the collection and for many clients, these special pieces are what they come to an Haute Couture House for. Above to the left the curves of the waxing and waining moon running in slightly changing sequences are powerfully symbolic of both lunar cycles and women's beauty and strength. They contrast with the flowing fabric of the skirt with it's tightly folded pleats showing dots and tartan check. The design contrast looks natural and composed. Light as a feather as with many pieces in the collection it has an easy sense of movement as the model walks. The low v-necked Black dress with dual layered skirt both smooth outer shell and fine-pleated beneath, is a sultry and subtle statement look for the day or evening. It could be matched with a jacket for a little extra warmth and with or without the tissue-thin gloves it would look perfect for the red carpet. 

The puzzle of finding love is alluded to in the jigsaw shapes on the jacket above decorated with little hearts. Sitting open from the shoulders it shows the wearer at ease. Below the dress in scarlet with a Blue outer layer of netting is light and easy to wear. Without the jacket this dress would serve the wearer very well both in front of camera and at private events. The Teal Green dress to the right channels the era of Elsa herself and her clients from the Silver and early colour colour era of Hollywood. The sash wrap around the neck and the gathered cuffs of loose blouse sleeves are evocative of the 1930's and 1940's. Pistachio Green boots complete the look in a sister design to the Ice Blue ones to the right coordinating with the aubergine accented with a Burnt Orange sash. While less classical than it's neighbour, it's equally engaging and will make a lovely entrance at a party or simply be a comfortable piece to enjoy wherever you choose to take it.

The lightness continues with a soft Black sheer sleeved bodice sitting above a fine pleated outer skirt. With the White under-skirted layer it makes a daring combination for a Black and White dress code and the charm bracelet themed embroidery across the bodice and at the lower sleeves adds a twist of magic. Volume is shown with more emphasis in the next look by bold use of colour. The collection themed Scarlet is tempered with Blush, Grey and light Primrose to create streamers of colour. It's a beautiful carefree piece to see you through an evening and sealed with a simple multi-coloured tie waist it looks perfect. A sash flowing over the shoulder in ribbonned colours creates the impression of a train behind the wearer as she walks.

Mixing sheer and opaque panels in one garment is a demure style option both revealing and concealing and ensuring the garment can be worn by a client on a greater number of occasions. This is a fantastic dress for the party season and the medley of smokey Midnight Blue, Black and Gold is a memorable combination. Colours melting into eachother across fabric was a key theme to the following look with delicate layers of tulle descending in a rainbow effect down the figure of the wearer. Sitting gently over the figure with Gold circlet chains below the arms and at the waist it's a sophisticated eye catching piece. To the right love is show to be the key once more as the heart itself takes centre stage across the bodice of the dress. Scarlet and a deeper Red flank aubergine in the length of the garment with the softest pleats gently falling into billowing lengths. 

Bold great splashes of colour are key to the heart of Schiaparelli and the spirit lives and breaths in the current collection. Safron Yellow awakens regal splendour in a flowing gown accented with a jewel detailed belt. Another colour from the palette of India, Magenta appears in two slightly different tones in the next two dresses, the first richly embroidered with birds of flight. The easy nature of Schiaparelli gowns is emphasised in the soft drape at the front and at the back of the dress. A long line of Pink is broken by a peep of White at the shoulder with a Burgundy sash scarf trailing around the figure. Again it's subtle charm is welcome to the audience and this bolt of colour will brighten up cool evenings in the autumn in true Schiaparelli style. The next soft White dress sees the scarf melting into the surface of the dress itself with an Ice-Blue train forming from the skirts of the gown.

Flowing behind the wearer it's ultra glamorous and puts it's own style voice before the audience. The idea of a rainbow wave of colour moving down a dress and shifting slightly in the light as the wearer walks to create a beautiful flowing image is shown sweetly in the next piece. Looking beautiful by itself it could also be styled with a Black or White wrap or bolero to be worn in the winter.

Squares sit beautifully at off-set angles in the next dress with the large diamond set squares of the under dress skirt contrasting with the neat boxes of the handkerchief style outer dress. It's a beautifully playful dress with a low V neckline supported by golden chain straps. A fun Red carpet or private party dress. From here bridal looks took the focus and a variety of styles that can be customised to brides wishes appeared and all subtly celebrated women's femininity. In the next look a light chain knit sheer bodice sat above a central waist band that was angled above the hips to show the health of natural curves. A Nude coloured dress belted at the waist descended to layered bands of soft feathered delight in gathered silk. The final look took the hint of feathering further executed into the shape of hearts to the rear of the dress and sweetly off setting the mini dress and it's train. Once again the only thing that can be predicated by Schiaparelli is the diversity of the themes that they draw on each season.

Ralph & Russo

As the only British based Haute Couture House showing on the Paris Haute Couture schedule Ralph & Russo's guest membership of the Federation of Haute Couture gives them a unique place of interest amongst fashion writers from the UK. Yes we look at the produce of all designers and think about how their clothes can be styled for shoots or worn by clients or even ourselves but, and perhaps I'm biased but I love to see a London based atelier on the schedule.

Ralph & Russo have carefully honed their House style during their evolution as a brand to give their clients Haute Couture in the classical sense with a modern twist. This is what legions of women across the world still look to buy and as the brand expands it's global footprint, it shows that Tamara and Michael hit the target with their business and style combination. Above to the left a White skirt suit embellished by rosette flowers at the pockets is a clean lined chic look that has timeless appeal. Elegant and discreet it easily adapts to the life of many women. To the right the shimmer of Silver fishscaled giant sequins runs across the surface of a knee length cocktail dress with a close-fitting bodice gently capturing the line of the figure. Again the look of quintessentially neat and chic is present in the style just as with it's neighbour and the flow of the collection. Shimmering layers of Black silk sequins ripple as she walks although this style is cut to appear straight, their is ample room for leg movement.

To the right one of the most precisley cut thigh-splits you will ever see this season offers ample opportunity to show off toned pins. In Black it makes a strong statement of discreet elegance and the elaboratley embroidered bodice conjures images of chandeliers and necklaces cleverley re-created into lace work. A white trouser suit evokes the era of the hippy trail and Morocco in the 1960's and 1970's. With long lines, it flatters long legs but can be customised as with all Haute Couture to the wishes of the client.

Layering soft drape over a close cut cocktail dress adds subtle volume to a gown and above to the left a beautiful piece that looks much more simple than it actually is to create, trails behind the wearer as she walks. The slight asymmetric appearance given by the criss crossed fabric adds to the feel of a look that is fresh and different. To the right a contrast in textures mixes ruffled feathers layers of fabric in the lengths of the dress skirt with delicate embroidery across the bodice of the dress. Soft rosettes at the shoulders add a touch of volume and define the points of the figure. This is a ball gown in every sense of the word and fills the floor around the wearer.

Using length in a very different way, the long lines of strips of fabric descending from the dress add a different feel to the mini dress and a different dimension of movement. A Blush-White coloured dress appearing to be made from bands of fabric that swirl around the wearer creates an appearance of the easiest elegance as if fairies had literally wrapped fabrics around her in the blink of an eye and the magic happened. In reality such pieces are delicate works of construction but the angulation shows the figure to perfection. A dress made for gliding. To the right tassels swing around the knees of a Golden party dress that will long to make an appearance over the holiday season, of not before. With jewelled crystal detail around the shoulders there is a twinkle and a sparkle about this piece.

Adapting one of their most popular themes from the last few years the dress above to the left features hand sewn flowers across fabric that is draped closely over the figure in a perfectly symmetrical form ruched at the waist and flowing out across the skirt. It's a regal dress and also has great potential for customising into a bridal piece as well as a show stopping piece for Black and White tie functions. Showing that Ralph & Russo are highly experienced at creating looks for the full spectrum of tastes, the bejewelled sheer dress above neatly covers the bodice and arms in a delicate intricate design making the upper body of the wearer seem like a living jewel in itself. Surely the greatest compliment that you could think of for a woman. Lines of smaller crystals appear to fall like rain droplets to the ground around her.

Gathered to perfection in burnished Rose, the dress centre above is a dream piece of Haute Couture that looks effortlessly easy to slip into. Again it takes great skill to create something that looks like it would fit the figure so naturally as to be a second skin. For formal events across the globe this piece would be suitable and would hit all the right glamour notes for Red Carpet appearances. It's a beautiful dress that a family could cherish beyond an original client and again there is the possibility of adapting this to a bridal dress as the trend towards coloured and lightly coloured dresses continues. If you wish to make a strong statement the next two sheer looks will show the natural features at their best. Revealing their inner structure to show the care taken in design the crystal sewn and feathered looks are racier alternatives that will draw glances and photographers if worn at events and make a memorable addition to wardrobes in private collections.

The colour palette for this collection moves through Black and White to Sand and Gold and then onto Rose and Ice before moving to a glacial cool Blue. Above to the left an Ice Blue bodice frosted with jewels forms the basis of the first in a series of dresses fit for ice Queens. With fabric swirling round the lady as she walks it seemed like the stuff of fairy tales as the model walked in cool purposful strides. Also emphasised here is the beauty of the female form. Natural curves and shape are celebrated in a typically chic manner. The high collar worn on the dresses of noble women in the 16th and 17th centuries appears in a ghostly echo of the past in the next dress with it's relaxed ruff collar and tiered hem layers.

This is another piece that invites being glided around in. Centre above the feathers off-set a close cut jewelled dress with accent appearing at the shoulder to balance the visual appearance of the dress. It's often important to ensure the shoulder look broader than the hips in close fitting dresses. A deep V neck that is fringed with Blue stones creates a different form of collar. Floral rosettes swirl down the length of the broad skirt of this dress giving it a light sense of bounce in it's volume. It's a grand gala dress ready to be danced in or taken to the opera. Haute Couture is the business of making fashion dreams into reality for clients from many different parts of the globe looking for pieces for events or for their amusement. Many styles shown in Haute Couture weeks can be adapted to wishes and the only limits are imagination. To the right the dip-dye look takes to the catwalk with a Lilac gown descending to a dark Purple hem. This elaborate piece is another of the examples from this part of the fashion world that could easily find it's way to the newspaper front pages during Haute Couture week to illustrate to readers where the heights of fashion lie.

Swirled around the figure soft drapes create a second silhouette for the form in the look above to the far left. The tiniest hints of a Grecian influence extend across the shoulders to the floating train. To the right Midnight Blue shades contrast with Navy Blue with the effects of both translucence and transformation of colour as the model walks. With light sleeves to the elbow the dress it channels the traditional modes of sophistication for evening wear. A piece from a former collection gets another re-working centre above when a bodice-dress beautifully embroidered is accompanied by an outer sheer skirt embroidered with the signature flower of the collections as it reaches the floor. Easing the transition from Blue to White as the collection draws to a close an aquamarine dress using the theme of ribboned fabric running across the figure to comprise the bodice, forms a light and easy gown that will flatter taller figures and compliment beautiful legs. To the right the first in a series of bridal looks enters with a jewelled suit dress option for bridges stretching to the mid calf. Below more of the famous Ralph & Russo bridal pieces for this season reaching floor length.


Some catwalk shows open in a blaze of colour with the new season colours proudly proclaiming a new dawn. Not this season at Christian Dior Haute Couture. It was literally many shades of Grey and from their colour slowly emerged. For autumn Maria Grazia Chiuri was looking to a delicate colour palette to say the least initially with a muted approach in this area focusing the attention on texture, textiles, cut and design. For they eye there was still plenty to see and as the looks came out it was apparent that Grazia Chiuri is still dedicated to ensuring that day wear receives plenty of attention to suit Couture clients needs just as was the focus in the early years of the House. The opening grey day-suit spoke classically of the Dior New Look lines.

Slightly nipped at the waist, the tailoring appears classically Dior but has the edge and nuance of today's ready to wear. It's not too formal in it's composition and could easily appeal across the age spectrum's. This series of looks are also suitably warm for the colder weeks of autumn and winter. No conceptual flights of fantasy here; these are real clothes that will keep you warm. Deconstructing the traditional suit the second look to the right includes a wrap around jacket tied with a belt and loose fit long line skirt with deep pockets to keep hands warm. In it's Charcoal shade it is an easy piece to wear for work and leisure looks soft and comfy. To the right a slightly sharper look with angles and a belt topped off with a trilby hat and gloves provide a trousered alternative for comfort, warmth and style.

Neat folds and pleats at the bodice of the dress, descending to the waist form a subtle design to a day dress belted in the classic Dior style. Maria Grazia Chiuri seems have been able to step intuitively into the shoes of Christian Dior and tread the fine line between innovating and maintaining the House style expertly. This dress could be worn anywhere, for day into evening, leisure or social, with a jacket or by itself. Note also that the models are also carrying gloves as a seasonal reminder. With the coordinated thought that has gone into the looks, it makes the collection looks seem somehow more complete and thought out as they where more commonly in the past. The skirt volume is broad and following, in the true sense of Haute Couture and you could twirl in this pieces. To the far right a tunic coat, high at the neckline and complete with a flowing pleated sheer under-dress plays with the tulip shaped design that is known from Dior and cherished by clients around the world. It looks innately warm and inviting and you know that being wrapped in it during the autumn will feel comfortable.

The same frabric for the under-dress is used for a beautiful stole wrap around the upper part of the figure softly draped across the shoulders. Soft culottes sit lightly on the hips and envelope the wearer. The lighter top give the outfit scope for wear in early autumn or indoors in the winter. This would also make a nice drinks party outfit too and would be easy to accessorise. To the right texture plays a role in the next look with a raised surface bodice descending in degrede through the skirt in Greys lightening to the ankles. Nipped in at the waist the belt makes a division between the beaded and fabric detail. It's a chic party piece. Centre above the simple wrap-style Grey dress with a neckline incorporating the style of a flowers petal is gently crafted to create a look beautiful in it's simplicity. It's an easy piece that could potentially be worn in the day or the evening.

To the right the tightly packed plumes of a feather appear to be the guiding inspiration for the piece. Folded into long pleats it sits over a Nude frame and the colour descends in degrede from Charcoal to a Light Blush colour at the hem. This could also be worn with a jacket or wrap and easily accessorised to make a complete look for the evening at a dinner or a party. To the right a Black wrap coat is tied with the signature Dior thin belt and it's smooth thin sleek fabric creates the perfect match/contrast with the Black vintage feel embroidered style skirt underneath.

A classic Dior day-suit style Black jacket is teamed with a sheer netted skirt, in a twist on convention a mode from the archives is deconstructed and what would have been under-layer composition for a skirt in the 1950's is transformed into the skirt itself to complete the look. Court shoes seal the look in it's traditional form. Following the many shades of Grey the strength of Black is a clear signal in the body of the work. Followed by a Scarlet dress and jacket with a thin Black belt this is tipped to be one of the strongest colours of the season and is perfectly styled to be a special formal-wear addition to a wardrobe. A soft velvet harlequin coat is one of the brightest expressions of colour through the collection. Set to light up the darkest of evenings this coat could be worn with the a Black or White outfit potentially underneath as well as looking in keeping with the soft feathered Yellow and Apricot shaded skirt underneath. An echo of Valentino walks before the audience as a delicate crochet style dress walks before the audience in the collection favoured tone of Charcoal. A sheer ankle length shirt dress in grey is a beautiful light piece to add to the wardrobe and would be perfect for events under the lights in the early autumn. Easy to move in and easy to dance in, the piece is gently expressive and would suit many clients and has an air of soft-style about it. Not restrictive but defined, as are many of the looks that Grazia Chiuri has made this season.

As day moves to evening a range of dresses that evoke the subtle side of Dior's legacy of glamour. A carefree Cream-White dress with trailing chords hanging from the hips move with her as she walks. The informal moves to a more formal look as the colour palette moves to Black. A Black velvet dresses with it's curved escalloped neckline has hints of the antique in the join of bodice to the sleeves. Tiny ties of the sleeve below the elbow also has the hint of dressing from another era and the long length is both sophisticated and practical for heading out to balls and events in the winter. A square cut bodice parted at the centre to allow for ease of movement for the wearer channels a simple minimalist style and makes no less impact. It looks beautiful without shoulders covered and as with it's peer to the left, it could also be worn magnificently with a White diamond necklace and earrings.

Gentle flowers from the memory perhaps of the gardens of Granville, the Dior family home, decorate the next dress painted subtly onto the smokey Dior-Grey canvas. To the right bookpage folds swirl around hips and fall in a handkerchief style skirt. Combining the best of it's two contemporaries the Black dress furthest to the right pairs mid-length sleevs with a cut bodice top. The effect is flattering and here again the echo of Valentino can be heard perhaps in the simple lines of the renaissance bodice dress brought to the modern age.

A flowing gown cut lose as it falls away from the figure shows again the gentle respect the cut of theses designs have for the female figure. Scalloped at the bodice it would be beautiful in any era. You could dance and love and laugh in this dress and spin around the room in it. And, should you be heading to a ball on cold nights this would keep you warm with an extra cloak perhaps. To the right a sexy sheer dress channelling the simple looks of classical Rome falls like a glove around the figure of the wearer. Strafing across the bodice, crossed fabrics entwine the form of the next model and have hints of the ballerina dress with romantic delicacy. The degrede style return in a muted pastel tones enhancing the natural beauty of the wearer. Veering towards Clay Grey in the wash of the colours it's a deft way of combining the Dior Grey with a little colour. With a minimal definition between the colours of this piece across the right playful bobbles effectively create panels that enlarge as the dress descends. Their are no overt classical bridal looks in this collection but as Grazia Chiuri closes with an embroidered floral grown perhaps she is quietly signalling that nature should be free and that we should make our own rules. Define your own bridal/best dress. 

Alexis Mabille

Alexis Mabille is one of the most exciting Couturiers in Paris for several reasons. He combines a sense of being a part of a younger generation with a different take on Haute Couture whilst also adhearing to the traditional codes of artistry and luxury at the heart of the tradition of Haute Couture. His work shows attention to elegance and pure beauty that many clients both look for and relish when choosing to buy Haute Couture.

Haute Couture is both an art and a business and the business of using the most advanced techniques to create design excellence to be worn by clients the world over. It's often described as a place were dreams are made and clients wishes fulfilled to their utmost desires, this is true, and it also preserves the heights of Parisian magic that we associate with glamour. Palace style town houses and beautiful clothes. Mabille understands the universal appeal of the traditional sense of luxury in Paris and the pure charm of beauty but at the same time he is not afraid to push the boundaries. Above to the left the collection opens with a long rich Berry dress tied with a pretty large ribbon and accented with a velvet collar. The understated robe is accompanied by a a long sleeves shrug jacket made from beautifully gilded roses. Contemporary art and sculpture meets with high fashion and placed in the gilded halls of the mansion at the corner of the Place Vendome, it's a strikingly original piece of work.

Tiered dresses are one of Alexis' specialties and to the right a Silver bodice descends to a Shell Pink floor sweeping skirt trimmed with lace. Carrying both hints of the past as well as a truly modern approach, the look is a perfect piece for private Black or White tie events and for public Red Carpet commitments. Softly neutral it would work well with many different complexions and could be accessorised with a light jacket or wrap on cooler evenings. To the right the pleat detail shown in this pieces continues in a full length skirt and matched with a beautifully embroidered sleeveless coat. A piece that shows the skills of the atelier to perfection, the intricate floral design makes a subtle design and texture contrast to the lengths of the skirt in an alternative expression to the opening look.     

Alexis' girl knows how to have fun in her palace and isn't trapped or over-awed in any way. She is enjoying herself and in the mood set for the collection there is sense that she is someone who enjoys her freedom. To the left above leaning casually against the wall and looking back at the camera with confidence the pleats of her dress dress sleeves are unfurled like wings. The gown moves through two colours from Silver in the upper to Shell Pink in the lengths is a simple degrede of shimmer that will look amazing in the party season. This is a light piece to carry off and shimmer in at a party. Centre above in majestic White, a ball gown that could also be a bridal choice. It looks perfectly at home on a balcony above the Place Vendome and could be worn throughout the world this season. It's wrap around style is sealed with a broad woven belt. Wide lapels and a deep hem in smooth silk contrasting with the quilted texture of the dress create a gentle tonal contrast in this elegant piece. Pockets add a hint of practicality with space for a dance card and essentials. In a contrast to convention a sheer light gown with nude bodice base sits with it's wearer on top of an antique fireplace. As daring as it's wearer this dress has the spirit of adventure. 

A long line Grey-Blue dress plays with the theme of soft pleats in it's length with fabric folded around the bodice to give a soft shape to the line. A second fabric around the neckline offers a playful colour contrast adding the touch of 'different' that Alexis seems to reach for in his designs. In the centre an Emerald Green suit features intricate embroidery across the jacket with precision craftsmanship replicating scenes from nature. A floor length skirt with soft pleats creates a contemporary formal wear approach. A Midnight Blue dress with a layered knee length skirt is a perfect party piece. Trimmed with lace and gathered in tiny pleats descending to broader folds of fabric. This is dress to dance in and would be great for drinks with friends and parties in the winter season.        

Working with a theme of modern regality a series of pieces in Midnight Blue to Violet cut a new line in contemporary high sophistication. To the left a sheer Blue-Violet blouse sitting over a dark sculpted bodice if fluted with broad feathery cuffs. It descends to a floor length broad skirted length with the satin outer shell trimmed at stages with gathered gauze in an echo of the dresses of the late 19th century. Raised to reveal the under skirt in several places it kicks against convention slightly with a classic Mabille twist in the design but looks entirely appropriate for formal wear occasions. Soft ruffles become a feature of the next dress with enhanced size around the collar of a dress and at the cuffs. Again tonal contrast plays an important part in the conformation of this outfit creating a textured opposition to the straight lengths of the gown. Leaving no sense of decorum behind the next two dresses show the fun he had playing with the above themes to create mini dress forms. Pleats are made crisp and bold in the look above with intricate floral detail added at the decollete in an illustration of giant sized applique detail. A perfect drinks party or dinner dress. To the right a second mid-thigh length dress borrows the broad hem boarder using a velvet trim for the look with pin-prick sized pleats descending to it from a soft seem-less neckline.

The long gowns give an added touch of theatre to Mabille's designs and the demonstration of this gesture is well matched by the surroundings of the model. A long double panelled black dress creates volume in the skirt with pin-tuck ruching at a dropped waist and open sided sleeves enhance the feeling of volume and space in the garment. Bordered at the collar with soft ruched Grey silk it hesitates at being a single coloured garment, like many pieces in the collection by adding this extra twist. A sophisticated gentle duo of Blush and Black in the next pair of looks express different dimensions of the style spectrum. To the left cross body bands create a halter neck around the wearers shoulders while the familiar theme of tight pleats at the bodice descend to softer lines in the width of the lower skirt. A thick Black silk hem borders the frame and creates a feeling of longer length to the eye in the silhouette.

To the right a voluminous broad gauzy skirt floats around the figure as the model moves and becomes a floating fairytale. Rippling layers move across the body with the panel divides of the lengths periodically decorated with sweet bows. The degrede colour scheme of White descending through to soft Blush is light and charming in keeping with the soft romantic feel of the piece. To the right a floor dream like whispy gown contains all he elements if a classic evening gown for the winter or perhaps another season. A straight shell Pink belted dress is accompanied by a longer outer layer adding a touch of ethereal magical detail and also acting like a veil to the dress itself in another possible wedding dress style option. 

The later stages of the collection feature the strength of Red where some designers still show the pale colours and soft White of bridal wear. Perhaps Mabille is replacing tradition here with a sign of strength. Red is a penetrating colour and looks good on many women. A beautiful party dress to the left has hints of the male tuxedo in the bodice tied with a Red ribbon at the waist. Feathers in colour degrede in the skirt offer a chic transition of the style in it's length to just above the knee. It's a piece that many will admire. To the centre above a striking alternative to the traditional bridal gown features a skirt train that also appears like the fiery wings of an angel. Both celestial and strong it makes a theatrical statement alongside the tapered scarlet dress echoing the shapes of the golden era of Hollywood in the 1930's and 1940's. To the right a soft velvet Midnight Blue-Purple dress beneath a decadent cloak creates a theatrical image. The long line of Scarlet is broken by a Black border and at the collar fabric is gathered in giant bows to frame the face of the model revealing the Shell Pink lining of the garment. Alexis Mabille once again shows that it's possible to reach the heights of ostentation and craft whilst also breaking new ground in design.

Giambattista Valli

Giambattista Valli defines trends and then looks at further ways to enhance and adapt them each season and for Autumn-Winter 2017-18 he made no exception. Opening his collection he matched a floral blouse mini dress with an outer Black tunic in a striking but sophisticated colour contrast that encapsulated elegant femininity. To the right a mid-thigh floral dress with a high-waisted giant sequined band forms a neat and chic party-wear ensemble and sets off the mood of autumn to winter with Red and Green flowers. A flowing Yellow dress with dual mini dress and flowing train descending from the shoulders is a bright welcome to the cooler days of autumn as the colours fade. Nipped in above and below the waist it resembles the gathered tunic dresses of Rome.

To it's right a softer Umber toned piece cut to the mid-thigh also has a slightly dipped hem towards the rear of the garment and extra design flare is created by the ruched detail in the bodice and at the upper sleeves. Swirling across the figure an Apricot dress with a slightly longer length in the skirt creates a harmonised dual appearance with one arm and shoulder covered with a train-like sash. Chic and simple it's an easiy adaptable piece for the wardrobe. To the right another example of Valli's favoured high/low design as I'll call it here. A beautifully draped bodice and puff layered mini dress are complimented by skirt lengths that descend into a beautiful train. It's a dream of look and this style. With it's romantic roses crossing the fabric as if strewn, created by Valli is one that appears on red carpets across the world.   

Moving from Roses into Black and emulating my blog colour themes, the next piece makes a clear colour statement of strength. The soft tulle layers evoke the folds of the ballerina skirt and if you look at the feet of the models they are all wearing ballet-style flat shoes. It's light beautiful and feminine and also timeless in it's fluid lines. The High/Low hem serves to add height and elongate the figure of the wearer by giving the opportunity to show off well toned pins. To the right a Rose Pink dress makes a rosette feature around the shoulders with jacquard print lightly decorating the surface of the dress. The collar and hem are trimmed with semi precious stones to give a light luminescence and below the neckline a star feature creates a sense of jewellery being set within the design itself.

Centre above layers of White tulle sit underneath a Black outer shell of sheer lace in a playful spin on the traditional evening gown. With it's high front hem and plunging neckline it's a look that will draw glances and like it's contemporaries would be among the choice picks for awards season and Red Carpet events through the autumn. To the right a pair of White and Pink dresses composed in spun lace add a romantic touch to the seasonal offering. The White dress with it's balloon sleeves reaches back into the history pages for inspiration and the gentle bouquet flowers adorning the garment front hint at possible bridal commission options. It's sister look to the right in Rose also offers intrigueing possibilites for bridalwear as well as being a Red Carpet stunner. With fabric gently gathered around the waist it gently softly envelops the wearer.    

The full skirted traditional ball gown makes an appearance in the two traditional colours of simplicity White and Black. To the left a floral rosette sits below the chest above the waist. Reaching to the floor the dress will be light to wear in the manner of Haute Couture and the sheer bodice could be underlayed to make it appropriate for formal occasions and without it would be a fun piece to wear for anyone with extra confidence. The Black companion dress to it's right also has the dual appeal of Black or White tie formal wear or Red carpet premier and awards camera shots. Goddess style long-lined gowns form the next passage of the collection with the tightly cinched folds that create volume from whisper light material. A Pink-White dress with off the shoulder styling accentuates height in the drop of the fabric. Floating Blush toned dresses to the right each have their own unique sense of glamour and a soft adaptation of peplum folds at the waists of both pieces give an extra dimension to the feminine styles. They are also pieces that you may be tempted to sneak forward into a spring wardrobe or take on your winter cruise travels. The Blush shade is one of the most gentle and understated you can find without being Nude.

Deepening the colours a warm ripened Damson colour makes a stylish entrance giving a discreet level of colour impact that doesn't distract from the detail of the design. Bias cut across the bodice gentle floral gathers around the right shoulder bring the garden to the catwalk. This is a beautiful dress to walk in but also like most of the collection it is easy to dance and sit in and enjoy your evening. A Scarlett-Rose off the shoulder gown continues prior trends for ruching and fringing at the waist as established in earlier looks. It possesses the natural magnetism that many of Valli's gowns seem to have in their composition. Centre above Roses climb in romantic growth across the surface of a sheer dress illustrating the life and natural beauty captured within the female form. To the right Lavender tulle lightly wraps the figure and flowers decorate the neckline of a fastened dress bodice. A vibrant Red dress covering both shoulders provides a more demure alternative losing none of the impact and again playfully using the softness of the tiny fabric folds to create a garment that's enveloping and attractive.

As the collection progresses colours become deeper and stronger with Plum and Purple appearing in the mix. The romanesque shapes continue to explore new permutations and to the left above a deep waisted peplum fringed dress accentuates the beauty of feminine curves as it's line falls to the floor. Cut with a plunging neckline it looks perfectly matched with some statement costume jewellery emphasising metal work and this colour will work like much of the collection on a variety of skin tones. More goddess dresses sweep along beside it with a Lilac dream in one of the colours that's becoming more popular for cooler as well as sunny months. An off the shoulder dress richly feathered at the bodice is tapered by a sweet bow below the neckline before the length of the double tiered dress. This is a modern-classic type of ball gown that could be worn to premiers or to formal state dinners and would look beautiful with or without jewellery.

An almost similar Scarlet-Rose dress with an alternate neckline is next to the right with the same expansive full skirt that creates a contemporary silhouette of modern elegance. Valli has conquered the red carpet and the hearts of many international clients and he has done it by creating his own rand of thoroughly modern Haute Couture. To create signature looks is something vital for any designer and Valli is one that particularly has a knack of shaping his collections that will appeal to a broad client base within the ranks of women who buy from Haute Couture. His work is also influential to Ready to Wear designers too as echos of his style can be detected. Below I close with two looks that I particularly like as I write here to my own brief. In Black and Baby Rose-Pink that capture the delicate sense of ballet style romance that Valli is hoping to evoke through much of collection and prepare his clients for the modern theatre of life.     

Ulyana Sergeenko

Ulyana Sergeenko has worked to create the dream that many women who can buy Haute Couture dream of themselves. Amongst this rare group of fasion clients Ulyana and a handful of other women from the new leading arena of Russian society have taken their passion for the high fashion they admired and developed their own businesses from it. Russia and Russians in Paris over 100 years ago where also a part of the burgeoning Haute Couture branch of fashion as Patrons and designers alike as many fled the uphevals of the revolution showing that the country is a natural well spring of fashion creativity. 

The collection opened in Black with a series of more than a dozen pieces opening the look at the Winter season by expressing design patterns and feelings through the medium of Black. The opening look of the collection is a signature coat the could be worn over a light day dress and sets the scene for entering the new season. With broad lapels it nods to retro traditional glamour whilst a quirk of modern style is added with rippling rosette pleats set slightly at an angle across the front of the coat. Accessorised by Black gloves and a Dr's bag shaped tote it channels a romantic vintage feel of the 1930's and 1940's. The significance of the pistol over the heart? Unclear. The second look again using the broad shouldered structure of the dresses of the 1930's and 1940's in Western Europe and America sits lightly on the figure with a Black beret cocked over one ear. A nod to Parisian French style in the modern capital of Haute Couture. In her left hand she carries a purse in the shape of a Rose upturned or cast down. The dress itself is sewn with delicate embroidery across the length of the skirt in the form of a bow.  

A well cut trouser suit adds another day wear essential to the array of options for clients through the autumn season. Whole some designers concentrate of spectacular ball gowns; day wear pieces also formed a large body of the collections that where brought out for clients. Piping at the borders of the lapels and pockets and the pressed lines of the trousers signal cool confident control. Again a pistol is placed above the heart at the shoulder, is this a nod to the possibility of a female James Bond in the future? The jacket style is crafted into a soft belted dress with a large pleated hem descending from the knees to above the ankle. Sleeves carry a box pleat at the cuff topped with a small bow and tiny floral plumes border the jacket at the shoulders and at the left leg. A dress with open sheer detailed bodice cuts across the figure from shoulder to waist defined with a thick horizontal band. Plumes sit at the hips in rosette detail and flutter slightly as the model walks with smaller ones at the shoulders. It's a chic cocktail dress that could be flexible for both Black-tie receptions and public events. To the right, Haute Couture at its most creative sees feathers floating acorss the outer silk layer of the gown. It's full flowing skirt in jacquard design contrasted with the sheer fitted bodice at the upper part of the dress.     

In a more contemporary take on high style a sweeping gown-jacket featuring a burst of plumes at the shoulder. A light silk bandeau bodice with high-leg shorts imprinted with White bows formed the complete look halfway between suit and evening gown. It's literally a trailblazing piece that makes a strong statement and a choice look for awards season and red carpets. To the right sheer Black lace forms the basis of a gown finely detailed with banding in shimmering fabric at the waist and at the hem tiered with tiny feathers to break the line in the shimmer of the fabric. At her right hand as with the model following next, a Black rose-shaped clutch completed the look adding a touch of Noir chic. The formality of the stiff collar offset the daring sheer dress bodice adding a detail of prim neatness. 

Cut close to the figure the next dress is a definitive piece of elegance that works timeless lines into a chic close-fitting gown with elegant train slightly off-set at the rear. It's not too wide and appears like a final flourish to the garment. The front of the dress with a sheer gauzy delicacy that isn't belied by the subtle firmness of the corset like construction. Fabric twists in a side-knot at the left side of the waist bringing a hint of casual twists to dress and design to the look. The next look to the shows the pretty detail of a bow elongated to form a motif that rums from shoulder to floor length across the outer surface of the dress. The sheer fabric is given an extra touch of mystery by the diamond checked White and Grey fabric that makes a pretty soft contrast to the bow expressed in Black lace. There's a beautiful carefree flow to the fabric that captures pure sweet romance so well. To the far right a floor sweeping gown with lace overlay is sweetly elegant. A Black bodice fitted closely to the figure flares into the contrasting loose flowing skirt with carefree lace floating around the models legs as she walks. Ribbon bows in White and Black floating across the surface and the gentle fairytale piece is given a masculine edge by a high peaked trilby hat borrowed from the boys wardrobe.

A light dressing-gown styled look is a simple statement one piece dress that forms a sophisticated piece of evening-wear in it's own right. At a time when the slip dress is a bold and popular choice for an evening dress in it's own right, it's interesting to see the evening gown grow out of a dressing grown form. Hints of the boudoir continue with the close cut bodice of late nineteenth century and early twentieth century ladies lingerie. The dress descends to a lace floor length skirt lightly panelled with Black silk ribbon. Elbow length leather gloves set of the look and echo a trend that looks as though it may be returning to the wardrobes and not simply an expression of high glamour.

The dressing gown style, as I term it appears again in beautiful Black velvet with silk ribbon bows bordering the collar and wrist and circling the waist. Softly crushed velvet is all-time favourite stylish look for the autumn with beauty and sophistication. Not overly sexy, it can adapt to many different places. This gown could be worn at drinks, dinners or even balls in the autumn and winter season. From here colour starts to appear in the collection with bold hints appearing. An Orange day dress with ballooned sleeves cut to just above the elbow brings burst of colour into the autumn. Softly nipped at the waist, this look again takes inspiration from the modes of inter-war style. The flowing skirt cut that gives the impression of the dress being cut from just one piece of fabric shows that mastery and skill of Haute Couture tailoring. Like the opening look of the collection and it's stylish neighbour it features a tote shaped like a Dr's bag. A deep Mauve coloured dress coat is cleverly constructed n the appearance of a ladies day suit again with the hints of the 1930's and 1940's discernable again. Tailored to the figure with perfection, just as Haute Couture should be, this formal suit will see a client wrapped against the cool airs of winter in the most stylish way. A White Rose at the high lapel of the collar above the heart adds a cheerful fresh note of light contrasting with the muted hue of the piece.


Some people think of Grey as a somber colour but it can be chic and pretty in many ways. Above to the left a beautiful dress nipped in at the waist in the most superbly defined neat tailoring uses neat epaulets fastened with two little buttons in a chic stylish tone. With hints of the male waistcoat the line of the upper dress is gently cut across the torso with careful attention shown at the shoulders. The fabric descends into carefully cut sleeves in minimalist expression and pencil skirt cut close to the figure descends seamlessly to below the knees breaking into beautiful floral embroidered detail below the knee given volume by plumes of feathers. It keeps to era of the collections main inspiration and moving across to the right, the Red Berry coloured sweeping gown evokes the glamour of the golden age of Hollywood. Shoulders sitting squarely on the figure decorated with sweet Roses painted in Russian figurative style. Shoulders are swathed in fabric giving the impression of a jacket incorporated into the cut of the dress itself. Defined by a broad sashed waist, the skirt of the dress descends with broad sweeping volume and the Roses strew the surface of the fabric as if gently falling down the figure.

A Blue-Grey tea dress looks perfectly light and soft on the figure as a model walks wearing it. For the days of early autumn or in a warmer climate this, piece is ideal and you may be tempted, as with other pieces to keep it lingering on into the Summer wardrobes. It's entirely the client's choice, of course, how often you wear the pieces that you commission, but if you really fall in love with something it's tempting to think that it can survive on for further occasions. The square bodied clutch is transformed into a lighter Peach-Pink hue. In a similar sunny tone, perhaps nodding to winter breaks in the sun and the cruise season, the next outfit combines a beautiful bandeau top executed with a bow at each side of the figure and an A-Line cut skirt, in the same form as the suit classic, cut close to the figure bristling with a flourish of buds around the knees descending into a gauze and silk two-layered skirt. In her left hand she carries a jacket composed of buds waiting to blossom in varied tones of peache-pink they give off a shimmering effect and when worn the outfit is subtly striking. To the far right a beautifully constructed bodice shows the intricate artistry that Sergeenko's atelier in Moscow are developing to teach the skills that where commonplace in the Russian domestic fashion industry until around a century ago. An exquisite stand-alone piece it's accompanied with a pretty light skirt as light as a wispy bridal veil to create a charming and sophisticated outfit.

A dark Apricot ankle length dress is accented with bows at the collar and upper bodice once more. The delicate hints of femininity are blended with subtle lines and pleats appear below the waist giving soft flow to the movement of the piece. The skirts of the dress revealing a hidden volume that moves gently as she walks. Small flowers trim the hem at a pause above the ankle and at the models right side a Rose box purse, true to the flowers natural colours, hangs from the models fingers in a stem-like handle. A light Broderie Anglaise bodice descending to a tulle skirt in a Golden shimmer creates an easy to wear piece for the winter party season. A Pastel-Beige coat swathes the wearer with luxuriant deep collar descending in a broad boarder to the hem it stylishly sits open or closed with equal ease. Fitting closely to the figure in vintage 1930's and 1940's classic style the light Lemon coloured dress centre above with it's delicate belt, flatters the slim toned figure of the wearer.

To the right two Bridal possibilities that could also be worn for other formal occasions take the mood of lightening colour exploration of the collection into White. The first dress with it's slightly raised shoulder detail draws the figure to the fine detail that sets these pieces apart and makes a statement that the eye reads as perfection. The wearer walks with a White Rose to symbolise marriage and blend with the feel of the piece but the Rose clutch in natural colours also strikes me as a logical option too. Wedding or not, this would be a perfect evening wear piece. To the right a plunge bodice dress descending to a sheer skirt is completed with a flurry of feathers that swirl around the legs the wearer. Giving the appearance of her walking on a cloud, this adds the touch of fantasy and make believe to the look that for many clients completes the picture of what they imagine Haute Couture can bring them.