Alexis Mabille

Image credit (c) Alexis Mabille

Mabille shone a bright light ahead from the dark days of winter. In the purest strength of brilliant White. Be it bridal or celestial, the colour that traditionally marked the final passage of the collection. Feathers, silk, lace and all the touches of the simple traditional bridal ensemble where combined with the glimmer of the eternal warmth of Gold.



The collection opened with a trouser tuxedo suit fusing the conventional male and female into one. A classically cut jacket and Cream silk-satin waist coast paired with a flowing midi length skirt of silken satin lengths trimmed with Broderie Anglaise. A light blouse, one of the many Parisian/contemporary international capsule wardrobe staples was accented with a soft cut bow-tie. Who was she, this beautiful vision? Bride, groom or guest; she could be any or several in the look that would be something to treasure across seasons. The embroidery detail in the high borders of the skirt offers a romantic hint of texture alternation and a hint of bohemian set off against the conventional formality of the upper part of the look. A mini-dress reaching to the daring mid-thigh length is accented with the sculpted moulding featured in classical corsetry garment design and finished with an open weave blouse sat open on the figure over laying the dress. It’s a light touch of playful contemporary style that accented with a feather crown headpiece.


Lace work in all its delicate beauty is celebrated through the collection. A Cream-White  bodice with bandeau neckline is barely visible with dentelle reaching across the shoulders and across the back, through to the full length of the sleeve cuffs. A crescent moon shaped Golden necklace intricately sculpted across its surface added an extra dimension of creativity to the total look as well as a deeper strength of colour. This was enhanced by a jewel-like clutch purse shaped like a Golden locket suspended from the right hand on a thick White ribbon. It enhanced the vintage aesthetic of this total look created through the combination of fabrics and Golden accessories whilst drawing a sophisticated balance.


A dress cut from a single piece of fabric floats on the figure in the look centre-right above with a heart shaped cut-away neckline leaving a romantic impression with two slim-line bows. It’s the easiest of piece to wear through the Summer heat and could easily see you through Summer evening drinks or supper parties around the world. The bold thigh-high opening of the skirt could possibly be sewn a little lower at the close upon request as is the beauty of haute couture; you can usually tailor these suggested styles to your exact specific wishes. Plumes of the thin feathers ripple around the head as the wearer walks in both this and the successive look with the effect of a corona around the head created. A Cream-Ivory sculpted bodice, partly visible beneath the sashes of gathered lace is another glimpse at the fine workmanship crafted in the Atelier of Mabille. A full-length skirt and fabric wrapped across the left shoulder of the wearer hint at traditional inspirations from the near east and India for a light Summer garment.       



The tuxedo suit echoes again through the first look of the frieze above with an off the shoulder floor length shirt dress sculpted around the waist in an open-bodice style with silk lapels crossing the figure to meet a pair of buttons and hip pockets sat at the waist. The skirt edged with broad buttoned seams at the front of the garment offers styling options for a more open or closed skirt. As with most of the looks in this collection, it’s a simple one piece that would be easy to style while you focus on your event or leisure time where it’s worn. Bold Golden cuffs are worn at the wrist with the piece worn to the right hand featuring the bumps and nodules of the natural nuggets as they are hewn from the earth. A single shoulder above the knee dress cut in circular style is fitted like a glove across the bodice whilst also allowing gentle movement of the garment around the figure with a skilful cut. The surface of the dress fabric is finely woven with a subtle tonal contrast provided by a silk-satin cross of fabric at the upper bodice echoing the satin lapels of the tuxedo jacket. One such lapel drops to wrap around the waist and up over the right shoulder to form a sash tucked under the waist band. A beautiful flow of the garment is created with the most classic styling techniques would also look stunning as a floor-length dress.


A daring design centre above makes a central feature of an escalloped cut border running vertically through the length of a dress where you may have expected it to be a neckline style feature. A ribbon sash tied at the right waist echoes the ties of ceremonial orders of chivalry held across Europe for centuries although placed discreetly at the wearer’s side she’s keeping this partly concealed. Nude sheer fabric bands to the right side of the figure give the optical illusion of a barely-there garment. An engraved broad rimmed crystal cocktail glass is transformed into a chic accessory in a moment of magical thinking by the addition of a fine Golden chain. Also in the successive dress shown to the right, it hangs gently from the fingers of the model as she walks. The appearance is something resembling the cup bearers of classical antiquity with a contemporary twist that could take to the Red Carpet. The next dress is quite daringly formed of two visible panels front and back with sheer nude fabric joining both into one surround of the figure. It’s an eye catching design sure to attract the attention of photographers and make quite an entrance. Furthest right, soft concertina folds of silk sit beneath the shoulders at the upper arms forming a gentle curve reminiscent of Angel’s wings. Soft fabric envelops the figure in a smooth drop to the ground from below the sleeves and bodice and the dress sways slightly with the move of the figure. With its softly circular hem, this piece like many evokes a Bridal theme through the collection.             



A statement feature silk bow-tie announces the first look of the passage above to the left. Dominating the neckline but not obscuring the face the wraps of the bows gently form shoulders, or more precisely upper sleeves to the garment. The central form of the dress descends through the figure to floor length cut in soft a circular hem. The duality of the minimalist and flamboyant are fused in one beautiful look. For private events or Red Carpet appearances this would be another memorable piece to add to a client’s collection and it stands out to my eyes as a potential contemporary wedding dress. The bridal veil worn in the last two centuries in Europe is transformed into an over the head cowl veil or wrap. A thick band of satin silk descends from an escalloped bodice and is accented with pleated folds of fine silken lace in a ruched double tier.


A daring piece twists the traditional hour-glass figure look with a cut-away waist that reverses the suggestion of the female figure and reveals it. Covered shoulders and full length sleeves take their cue from the light sweater whilst a straight skirt split to the mid-left thigh. The cocktail glass bag hangs from her left hand and she saunters confidently into the night. A seemingly simple dress cut in one clean sweep of fabric features a cut-away neckline that dips into the crescent of a moon radiating crystal shine from stones that shimmer like stars. Fabric rises up to meet two single strap shoulders that drop to sashes at the upper arms again finished with spangles of shimmering stars. The effect is that of a sculpted wave reaching around the bodice and upper arms of the wearer twinkling with magical light. The sleeves and length of the dress flow in a rippling signature of style to the floor. This piece captures much of the aesthetic of Mabille. Clear tones of exquisite style like notes of music combined with soft simplicity of style in harmony with the gently flowing lines of the human figure itself.          



A bandeau neckline traces around the figures descending to a dress resembling a beautiful Cream-White shirt with an opened button seam hem centrally rising similar to a mostly-closed crisp Cream-White summer shirt. Fabric is ruched across the bodice to form rosette-like panels that create a tonal feel to the sheer White of the garment. The corset is modified into a smooth double banded fasten to cinch the waist tied with a lower ribbon. A shallow chalice hangs from the fingers of the models left hand. She glides before the audience with cool confidence imbued in the comfort and delicacy that Haute Couture provides to the client. This is another look that could be a bold wedding ceremony dress, or, popular amongst many, it would make a fun option for an eveningwear second dress.  


A union of the tailored blouse and the blazer jacket in one forms the upper part of an outfit that plays with vintage tradition in a humorous, yet serious way. Knee high breeches, traditionally worn by boys and young gentlemen as a style feature of the late 17th to early 19th centuries and here composed of fine netted dentelle lace over laying a soft Peach satin and ribbons tied above the outside leg knee. The double breasted traditional blazer is hinted at with twinned buttons dropping to the waist with smooth satin offset by large crimped folds running the length of generous lapels. A jewelled clutch purse in the models right adds a sparkling off-set to the satin.

 

Re-working the trouser suit appears as a theme once more with a bold sheer blouse cut high at the front accented with visible seems in a contrast to the soft gentle volume of the garment sleeves. A fishtail skirt taken from the classic full length dress morphed into a full length satin silk skirt. Beneath the blouse a finely worked corset bodice in Blush satin is embroidered with scattered White florals. On closer inspection the wrap around banding of the skirt waist fold is in fact the smooth satin of the shirt lapels. To the far right the fun with play with volume returned with a ballerina style skirt cut in four graduated tiers through the length of hip to knee. The bodice is composed of a tailored corset that is finely embroidered in soft White dentelle perfectly moulded to the soft escalloped shapes. The sheer blouse with sewn crochet detail running across the surface conjures images of bridal dresses and embroidered veils. Feathers floating around the crown of the head and straying outers layers of dotted netting in the skirt add a playful, almost jocular expression of creative fun to the passage expression.



Warm Blush satin returns in the bodice of a floor length dress that featured escalloped shells beneath the neckline with dentelle lace wrapped lightly around the figure. There’s something bold, yet poetic about this look in harmony with the collection. A fluted full length satin dress skirt is bordered with soft broderie in two blazes running from the hips to the front upper legs. A sheer White fine weave fabric hangs from the models shoulders off-set at an angle leaving one bare. It’s a nonchalant carefree adaptation of the classic formal bridal composition. The delicate lace of the classic veil itself became the main fabric of the next garment with an off the shoulder dress stretching to knee length. Shorts beneath are cut closely on the figure like a style cousin of the traditional lace gloves of previous centuries.


The lightest of design imaginings continue across the next several looks leading towards the close of the collection. The sculpted bodice is a key feature of the collection shown here ably with dentelle lace running the length of the figure from sheer jacket to trousers. In a nod to the traditional bridal attire the whole look is cloaked in a sheer White veil of the feather light silk with a fine boarder bringing the edges to the attention of the eye, rather than disappearing into a cloud of fabric. The cocktail glass gently swings from her left hand also hinting at the purity of crystal along with the White. The outer full-length veil made a transition to a complete figure-enveloping garment. A Blush body suit accented the natural lines of the figure with a waist gathered sash tied with diamante crystal sealing the look whilst retaining some mystery. The fine embroidery of the garment will make this something extra special for the clients to remember.


The finale piece raises the volume of style bringing hints of the 18th century Mantua dress with its arching echo of the hips to the fore with the two tier dress motif repeated. A satin silk dress cloaking the figure sits off the shoulder line with a discreet central split to the knee. The outer dress also appears to fall from the shoulders with a carefree sigh all of its own. It’s a splendid piece to wear at your wedding and for the adventurous, or vintage loving it would be a beautiful Red Carpet addition to their collection.          






CHANEL

Image credit (c) lessandro Lucioni

Chanel seems to have an existential ability to ‘talk’ to the founder and ask her what she would like her House to show next season; when in doubt, perhaps navigating the waves to the high fashion sea après Karl go back to Gabrielle, her codes, her message. It’s an unbreakable training and mantra. So this season no surprise perhaps to see an offering of discreet classics that will suit, literally, many of the global clientele past, present and future giving classics that can jump straight into the wardrobe and travel bag. Keenly aware of their style durability these looks could almost unanimously be worn across into the autumn and winter season and given the changing times and uncertainty that is upon us, the timeless fingerprint of Chanel perhaps offered some comfort as well as pocket friendly options.



The collection opens with a demure one piece dress that merges the look and feel of classic hounds tooth and check. Braided at the waist, it gives the suggestion that the look is a separate jacket and skirt in a trompe de l’oeil moment. Even Chanel, at its most distilled reminiscent of the Aubazine Convent of Gabrielle’s childhood visual scape, can also stretch to a touch of playful illusion. A second dress in the same vein with a rounded collar, this time continuing the jacket fabric and front facing hip and above the waist pockets is barely visible. Neat and chic, it’s as every bit as comfortable as you would expect whilst being wonderfully light and proof against the chill airs of early spring.  


The broad hounds tooth weave of Black and White is replaced with a close small scale weave creating a charcoal Grey impression. The circular collar of the vintage era of the late 19th and early 20th century is transposed into new-classic coat collars. It may seem dour for the start of the spring season but this is Chanel acting in chronology taking its first cautious steps out of winter. Warm coat dresses and a suit swept before the audience to carefree sunshine music from the 1990s. Look closer at the outfit above to the right though; Chanel spins conventions of the past on their head with the thin net of an under skirt or a veil used as an outer skirt layer, the broad White collar of pure linen accenting the neckline of the jacket rather than being part of the shirt.  

   


The dropped waistline feature is peppered through the collection with a light spring-summer dress making a nod to the 1920’s. Tweed cut to a collar panel and encircling the waist of this piece balances the soft float of the fabric constructing most of the dress with a little weight. Fringes of vintage-esque Broderie Anglaise peep from below the hemline of the piece giving a childlike appearance in a grown-ups garment. A jacket cut to length below the hips is cut in the double breasted style. Taking the classic wardrobe item and increasing the size and length to wrap over the figure. The matching tweed skirt is completed with an outer light wispy veil of Black silk. The six White buttons accent the monochrome and Black outer skirt to a fuller effect. 


The longer line silhouette continued with a slightly more close-woven jacket exhibiting an alteration on the form of the classic double breast. The jacket buttons are invisible with a central double entry pocket echoing the form of the traditional winter and sports jacket muff. It’s the soft woven texture that’s a feature in this collection as much as the cut and styling. A midi-length skirt with long soft pleats continued the uniform approach to style. To the right above, two looks elaborated on the theme of highland tartan expounded to give the impression of Charcoal Grey. A skirt suit blends tweed with the skirt itself veiled in full length tulle. Like something faintly gothic or ethereal, yet making a subtle statement of its own, the small Black rosettes sewn into the skirt veil create a playful counterpoint to uniform look. Furthest right the semi-formal maxi dress, suitable for work and leisure moments comes into its own in a superbly tailored design that just asks to be given a spin. It’s modest and also still reassuringly warm for the cool days of early spring and late summer reaching into autumn. A thick Black buckle fasten waistband, swish-fold lapel and broad White cuffs off-set the full length tartan, also recalling the shirt dress, here is surely one of the most ostentatious imaginings.             



The shimmer of a loose weave tweed ripples across the surface of a jacket with its own in-built cape. The soft drape around the shoulders again speaks to cooler winter months or a perhaps a reference to a classic twin-set. A tulip skirt reaching to above ankle length makes a nod to the early years of Gabrielle Chanel in the fashion industry as a milliner in the period we call Edwardian era in the UK and later Belle Epoch in Europe. The slightly carefree semi-open weave of the next skirt suit with jacket sitting on the hips and floor length skirt again, I think carried the echoes of Chanel’s early years in the fashion business in Paris and Deauville. The broad lace collar of the jacket too hints at this time. Centre above a broad pie-crust collar sits above the fine ribs of linen reminiscent of late 19th and early 20th century dress bodices. The long charcoal skirt also nods towards the decades either side of the turn of the 19th into 20th century. The Chanel stamp appears in the front placed pockets about the hips, first seen largely in the classic Chanel jackets.


To the right the contemporary Chanel jacket is extrapolated into two very individual styles. A below the knee dress uses a hint of tinsel, originating in the 16th century Tudor era clothing, placed in a diamond lattice creating a soft darkness against the astral-like sparkle. A high collar evokes the codes of late 19th century military dress whilst the buttons tracing down the front of the piece to above the waist. It evokes again the dusky and sometimes foggy days of late winter and autumn in many ways but for many clients Black, or Charcoal Grey is also a colour that they can blend into a multi-seasonal outfit. The horizontal file of the nautical stripes also nod to an influential part of Chanel’s past cast into a style code of the House. The classic Chanel jacket is lengthened to above the knee and buttons running almost the full length of the piece express the memory of the maritime coast of Deauville in Normandy where Chanel first found success as a designer to clients who spent the summer season by the sea or at the races.          



The Chanel uniform codes run strong through this collection. Above to the left a dress worn imitates with a twist, the ‘poor scholar’ uniforms worn by Chanel, her sister and fellow pupils of charity at the convent of Aubazine. The austerity of Black, in former centuries associated with the wealthiest women n society, would be something that she remembered for the rest of her life and perhaps imbued to her a sense of confidence and control. Chanel said that she ‘imposed Black’. Perhaps this was a reflection of the control that was imposed upon her and other children at the convent. The long line piece running from shoulders to ankle sat on the figure almost rather like a long shirt dress cut to perfection on the figure. People are often in this day and age familiar with Haute Couture in the form of evening dresses but there is vast possibility for bespoke tailoring of the suggestions for daywear and leisurewear that are offered each season.    


The caped coat of former centuries is re-born in the embroidered lengths falling from the shoulder to the mid upper arms beneath the perfectly sized collar. A chevron weave, almost appearing like a variation of the classic ‘Hounds Tooth’ continued a single pattern through the length to the lower leg. Deep pockets at the front of the garment hint at Chanel’s instinct for practicality in the make-up of her designs. A double pair of pockets detail the second coat in the range above, placed centre. The mantle is passed to this second coat also with pin-tuck detail fluting the edge of the feature. Again this brings hints of child-like clothing and Belle epoch style into the adult wardrobe of Chanel’s female client base this season.


An off-White blouse with cut-away floral detail was matched to a long straight off-White bouclé tweed skirt split to centre knee length. A similarly bold White jacket completed the main part of the outfit although the school-girl-like socks and White tights worn on adults seen throughout the collection, were something I found quite perplexing. To the far right a full length coat is sewn with the most brilliant floral applique, almost like a surface crochet covering the garment. Discernible are the Camelia’s that Chanel treasured. A high collar borrows from the men’s military jacket and also keeps out the cold airs of spring. It’s a beautiful work and like many looks in the collection, could be chosen as a bridal piece potentially. 



A semi-sheer Silver-Blue dress has echoes of the 1920’s dropped waist pinafore/flapper era style with medium pleats running from hip height through the lengths of the skirt. The vertical dual line of buttons taken from the double breasted coat softly signal a double layer of defined uniformity. A square-cut neckline features a ripple of soft pleats of fabric grouped in five tiers, similar to one of my favourite summer pieces, that flows downward to a full length dress split to the knee with sheer tulle floating underneath. Five buttons fasten the bodice close to the chest with a slight off-set following the line of the shoulder strap. 


The classic Chanel boucle tweed suit is crafted in the Cream in the three looks above to the right. A high-waisted jacket featured weave that hinted faintly at the chevron design and created the soft textured feel that Chanel clients love. It’s both light and warm, in the House crafted style. Large feature buttons with emblems of the House wrought in silver reach down the jacket to sit in vertical precision above the waist. Two pockets with flap fold-over covers have buttons to match and a turned down collar and skirt cut just below the knee complete the look of soft decorum. The next look moves to the traditional tweed check form with a slighter more pressed understated expression of the classic suit. With a nod to the traditional Scottish kilt the skirt has a side wrap around form with the side fastened with buttons, rather than a free seam of the outer layer wrap. To the far right, a break with convention showing a jacket fastened only at the neckline without a blouse underneath. Dual pockets at the hips and a single one above the waist add the calling-card note of functionality in the design whilst the central skirt split above the knee with a veil-thin underskirt hinted at a possible switch to culottes then reverted.          



The middle split translated to the next look above to the left with a fine veil-like under layer and the curved open/close jacket and matching skirt featured a surface accented with many tiny bobble-like spheres of fabric in a charming addition to the composition. The thin veil of the under-layer of the skirt is set with hand embroidered pearls and crystals swaps the ornament usually reserved for wear over the head to the lower part of the garment. The suit is brought forth in another more highly coloured invocation with a soft neon-pastel toned floral design off-set by the geometric grid of the traditional tweed and tartan. The soft colours add a touch of light to the collection, with a softer interpretation of the palette featuring in the next look cut as a coat dress with a waist seam resembling a jacket cut. With a jacket above the waist and an optical illusion created, these two outfits show a fusion of art with the classic Chanel style mores.


To the right hints of bridal style are fused with the child-like late 19th and early 20th century styling of a girl’s pinafore dress. This is created sheer, with sleeves reaching the elbows and an infant rounded neckline. The dentelle embroidery of the piece is soft, delicate and light with the underskirt visible through it. What would be the undergarments or nightwear of a young girl over a century ago can now be worn as a light summer outfit at Chanel this season and the attention to detail in the craft of the skirt from its tiny pin tucks to the pristine embroidery can now be seen. Climbing florals trace through the length of a sheer White dress embroidered across the surface of a sheer base, not unlike a closely worked lace for a bridal veil. Fitted to the wearer like a glove, this piece is cut from a single piece of cloth and emphasises the expression of simplicity found within the lives of the novitiates and nuns inside convent walls. Subtle fringing at the collar, cuffs and neckline add a hint of accented style. 

            


The collection carried forward to encompass pieces that had a more evening-wear look and feel. Moving to the monochrome of Black and White, a Black satin dress is wrapped inside a voluminous White sleeveless shrug jacket. There’s a tiny nod to the 1980’s here I think and the taffeta volume that swept across the dresses and gown jackets worn in high society internationally. Gentle ruche gathers at the bodice made the most natural folds across the fabric whilst the second lower tiers of the skirt bisects the lines of these folds, thus making a contrasting harmony of line. The ruching of the gown jacket also evokes the folds of the full and half-length capes worn as outer wear by women in the 19th century. A belt drawn low at the waist signalled a contemporary feel to the piece, whilst school girl socks worn over  White tights add an off-beat art school note. A simple Black slip dress with ruched banding at the waist before reaching below the knee, illustrated the power of Haute Couture to make the supposed ordinary extraordinary. With wisps of a stole surrounding the neckline and an outer skirt of sheer Black fine silk tulle echoing out from the ruched hip line, the skirt drops to a ruched gathered hem of its own, with dentelle flowers encircling the base. Laced ballerina style shoes also add a suggestion of the simple warm-up costume that is worn for rehearsals and warm-ups which in many ways is signalled by the outfit.


Another all Black outfit adds a dark note of glamour to the warmer brighter months. With a two tier dress expressing both an above the knee and above ankle style the shoulders are softly wrapped in a cloak-like sheer tulle. A Silver buckle from the traditional belt or riding saddle binds the piece around the neckline. To the right the mood switched to White with a jacket that featured a crescent cut neckline above a high cut bolero waist. Hints of traditional Spanish Flamenco also appear in the dress underneath running in five tiers through to ankle length. The jacket sleeves echo the form and length of this as they gradually widen to reach below the wrist. This could potentially be a wedding suit for brides looking to make less traditional choices or could also be an eye catching piece for Red Carpet moments and formal events in the sunshine months. To the right one of the simplest designs imaginable produced an effect of sheer clarity. Clay-Blue fabric, neatly folded in pressed pleats runs through the length of a garment dropping from a banded bandeau neckline, halted only by a hip belt. This really feels like effortless, timeless style with the model gliding before the audience in a piece that could be from the 1930’s or the 2030’s.       



A light dovish Grey-Blue changes the palette for a blouse and skirt combination that appears more as a dress. A belt is formed of a ruched gather echoing the inter-war years of style when Gabrielle Chanel’s influence grew from that of emerging talent to world-wide style celebrity and influencer (in the pre-social media sense). The central line of buttons and the broad cowl collar mirroring the monastic church clothes show a juxtaposition of soft and natural shapes with those of disciplined design. Two beautiful bridal possibilities presented themselves in forms that could also be chosen for summer night parties and balls. The latticed tissue fabrics of the renaissance appear re-born once more across the bodice of a dress, with a second outer layer resembling an apron off-set at a 45 degree angle and that itself carrying Golden rosettes crosses through the body of the fabric. A full length skirt continued the theme of diamonds running the length of the piece. An embroidered fringe surrounding the wearer with delicate embroidered lace detail surrounded the bodice of the next dress with the cowl-like cape encircling the shoulders. This reminded me of traditional European rural dress, with its knee length ruche to accent the lower layer of the skirt. Soft Pink sequins twinkle from the lengths of the skirt.


A soft Charcoal Grey knee length dress proves to be a new way to express the Camelia, beloved of Chanel with the shoulders cloaked in tulle and a lower fringe of the skirt also in the same floaty light fabric. The bodice of the dress has the faintest definition simply by a raised band of the principle design that leaves a small border of Black around the base of the bodice. The hints of the traditional European national dresses again appear in the dress farthest to the right. A sheer bodice sewn with fabric wild flowers and a triple layered dress skirt bring a romantic carefree touch to a collection that carried for the most part strong hints of order and geometry.     



A broad skirted dress reaching to above the ankle contrasted both a bodice alive with floral appliqué. The lengths completed with a semi-sheer skirt and visible buttoned pockets added a slightly practical hint of design to this probable evening dress, more often associated with the classic Chanel suit. Geometric design returned once more in the skirt of the next dress in the panel above. Overlapping circles like a vendiagram are strewn with flowers whilst a careful tessellation of rock-like crystals encircled the waist and adorned the shoulders in sleeve fringes. The bodice was simple and minimal with both a sheer and opaque panels.


A contrast of geometry and natural florals appears again in the next piece with a light sheer White tulle cloaking the outer body of the dress whilst underneath florals and ferns embroidered in delicate dentelle appear in a set of three graduated panels bounded by waves. The hem is created by a drop panel at the base of the dress reaching to the knee and the bodice is created with a fine alignment of diagonally sewn panels. The soft tulle outer-layer softens the look to create a soft harmony in the contrast. The tonal contrast theme continued in a dress that featured a lattice design made in Silver thread surrounding the bodice and encompassing the upper arm sleeves in a ‘marine’ neckline. A dual layer skirt featured both a White skirt of tulle in abundance at midi-length and an outer sheer Charcoal layer banded with two Silver metallic friezes in continuation of the bodice. It’s a beautiful evening dress and daringly contemporary.          

  



A metallic theme continues in the collection with a dress melding light and dark Silver in alternating panels through the length of the dress. Running from shoulders to hem, this piece could be just the right thing if you’re looking for something sparkly and unique from this season’s collection. Black returned again with a somewhat romantic whimsical note signalled by the double tiered long fringe skirt with satin falling from the finely woven Black lace with pin tucks adding volume. A fine light jacket woven of fine dentelle was mostly opaque with geometric floral details featured in two narrow sheer panels either side of the central button column.


A more streamlined vision is created by the look centre above with a Broderie Anglaise cape collar encircling the shoulders and a tunic vest. Peplum fringing in a skirt below the waist in the same dentelle as the cape, heralds the drop to floor length in the sheer lengths of wafer-light silk that float around the models figure. It is a serene look of glamour that would be equally as at home at private or public gala as Red Carpet celebrity events. Potentially, depending on the flexibility of the atelier, it could also be re-created in a number of soft or bold shades of colour. A White sleeveless blouse covers the shoulder and upper arms with a broad collar and the bodice forms a tube with a faintly elasticated lattice design. It features a visible central seam and a peplum fringe at the waist above a more formal floor length Black skirt with flamenco-esque tiered fringing. The skirt itself completed its composition with a small soft train moving behind the wearer and could be a light contemporary second outfit for a wedding. The closing bridal look was a soft, yet no nonsense interpretation of the shirt dress worn with a veil that like the dress itself came to the knees. It is so underplayed for a bridal piece you could almost remove the veil and head back to the office, or imagined another way it’s a very easy piece to re-wear in another situation after the wedding. Chanel didn’t surprise this season but in times of uncertainty, those who can deliver classics reliably to meet a loyal and every growing client base are often well served.      





Giambatista Valli

Images (c) Giambatista Valli


Giambatista Valli’s collections are anticipated as a celebration of light, life and colour that leave an imprint in the memory and the heart. This season didn’t disappoint with a development of recognisable styles and those that were new to the audience. A celebration of ruffles swooshed across the neckline and over a single shoulder piled high in tulle. This opening look of the spring and summer 2020 collection worked the asymmetric theme to double strength. The curve of the outer layer of the dress also wrapped around in 18th century dressing gown style to finish in a fringed seam that gathered in peplum folds. It’s a swirling dream of a piece. 



A unique masque design featured in this collection with an encircling of the eyes framed by soft leaves on stems. All in White, they make a gentle contrast with the soft Rose print on fabric and across tassels to create an eye catching 3D optical illusion effect when the wearer moves. Taking a leaf out of the book of Cristobal Balenciaga the next dress is a complete shape in 3D of itself that enveloped the wearer. Where Balenciaga created the unfathomable envelope dress, Valli here channels the sphere and also the effusive design of Christian Lacoix, I sense. Yet, this is a work in his own vein. With fingers barely visible at the models side, the Salmon-Pink dress created an almost globe around the wearer. The ruched gathers that so often encircle the waist or skirt lengths of a wearer are formed large in circumference of the piece and are a central artifice of the design itself. A crystal jewelled collar encircles the neck barely visible above the soft puffs of fabric. The sparkle represented a second texture in the feature but held the sense of clarity of look.


To the right a feather circles mask highlighting the eyes returned in a soft Magenta hue paired to a White dress. The dress is a classic Valli cascade of ruched ruffles carefully crafted in two tiers running through the length of the dress. A neo Greco-Roman image is conjured in part by the high waisted dress of softly ruched White and formed with two gathered bands of fabric forming the shoulders. There is a hint of Flamenco I think in the profusion of ruffles that swirl around the figure from shoulder to floor.    



Feathers move from being a feature of the eye mask to the full length of the soft Salmon dress. Voluminous sleeves and a softly belted dress give the silhouette appearance of an Angel descending and walking amongst the Haute Couture throngs in Paris.  A small crystal jewelled bow tie at the neckline added a conventional masculine note to the overtly feminine look. Soft wisps of feathers appear once more in a head dress that provides a voluminous contrast to the soft draped fabric swiftly descending the figure. The softest Rose Pink cloaks the form of the model descending the length of the figure in a dropped bodice shape featuring horizontal ruching detail. A simple fold reveals a drop to a skirt emphasising classical Grecian overtones and lengths of the skirt trail beyond the wearer in a statement of grandeur.


A warm light Saffron adds a glow of colour to the form of a ball gown with a puffed skirt. A sleeveless bodice puffed with plumes around the figure. The subtle contrasts of fit and flair, feathers and smooth fabric make for an eye catching design that will make a suitable entrance without being overpowering. With a unique twist the flowers run through to the skirt in a waterfall effect created within a fold. To the right a soft Rose dress to the right above is composed of two hues of that colour. Ruched drapes spring forth in a profusion falling from the escalloped neckline and tied with a bow at the reverse. A train falls from this above a sashed drop encirclement of fabric and gathered lengths of the dress in softest tulle. It’s another dress in the Valli frame that will make a grand entrance to a ball or on the Red Carpet. The word ‘timeless’ is often used in fashion and this is a piece that will genuinely see you through many years. It could have been worn through much of the 20th century and looks ready to step into the future.      



A mini-dress variation of the previous dress theme above splices a smooth mid-Pink satin with soft Rose Pink tulle. A seam created at the top of the bodice formed the perfect post-hole for a tulle sash to run through across the neckline, over the shoulder and falling like a stole. The soft feather mask encircling the eyes appears once more in a bold display crowning a figure-hugging dress encircling the wearer. Floral rosettes sit over a mosaic of sheer flower petal designs. The three dimensional surface of the garment creates a light-hearted beautiful look in a celebration of intricate design. The theme of soft feathers around the face or at the shoulders is amplified in a classic maximalist Valli look with tulle gathered tightly around the upper bodice beneath the arms and encircling the waist before falling to a train-skirt flowing behind the wearer in almost formal bridal proportions. This is a Red Carpet statement dress that will attract the cameras and also a piece that no doubt many clients would treasure.



Tipping its head to the vintage antique, a full length dress is gathered in ruched abundance at opposing angles at the bodice and skirt length. A Scarlet dress reaches from the neckline to the floor in a soft profusion that feels gentle to the wearer. A soft ripple of fabric behind the waist faintly echoes the dress bustle of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Cut and set ready for the grandest of evenings, this dress is completed with a cape-train in a soft clash/contrast of Magenta satin. Gathered about the arms in an exaggerated bow on either side of the figure, volume is accentuated adding to the almost stage-like quality of this look. Central above 3D fabric flowers again cover the surface of a dress, this time mini in length above tessellated flower shapes cut in the fabric. As with its sister look above, there are periodic missing tiles through the design of this garment and soft flowers strewn across the surface in real life sizing. It’s a light fairy dress for parties on warm Summer nights.


To the right, a dress that equals it’s opposite number at the left border in its expanse and styling. A soft Lilac robe fills the outfit silhouette to full length with a thin line of banding at the waist hinting at the classical Grecian form. Across a single shoulder a cape-train hued in deep Plum is accented with an outsized bow at the shoulder. Draped with goddess-like ease and elegance, this statement look is another prime pick for a gala or Red Carpet event. It would also make a striking appearance in the autumn season if you have a careful eye to maximising the potential of your wardrobe. Feathers fly around the head of the model like a fluffy halo with a small bow hidden away at the front.   



A soft Magenta brings a light note to the collection with a silk shirt dress embroidered with fine crystal beads in outline and clustered to form seeds to create flowers. Swirling round the figure like a floral carpet, this wraps around the figure almost like the flower petal dresses of the mythical Thumbelina. An Olive Green cape-gown floats around the figure with a single shoulder exposed in the 1980’s and post Millennial fashion. It goes further though in true Valli opulence with a full length sleeve engulfing the right arm and an outsized bow placed over the shoulder. Half of the bow rounds are placed either side of shoulder emphasising the feeling of being safely enclosed and comfortable. Another White feather mask encircles of the eyes of the wearer beautifully as the upper feathers act like a crown and the lower ones like a veil. A second bow cinches in the waist in a contrast harmony to the first at the shoulder in clear White.


To the right a complete look in White carried hints of bridal and perhaps theatrical to high effect with a froth of White feathers commencing the outfit from the headband. Crystal sewn chevrons blaze down the front of the garment above the start of flat out tulle layering of the skirt, like more than a dozen ballet dancers skirts piled vertically from ankle to waist. It’s a spectacle of a dress and one that I anticipate perhaps seeing in a museum collection in the future. To the right a beautiful rambling Rose of an Haute Couture look appeared with cut rose flowers appearing strewn through the length of the dress working a soft deconstruct of the late 17th and 18th century mantua dress. It’s a full length piece that feels complete on the wearer with shoulders shrugged off to the arms and generous volume all around. There’s a feel of decadence to the piece but not exaggeration, it’s comfortable and confident with hints of romance not only in the floral composition set on the lightest Blue background but also in the soft waves flowing through the border of the skirt.        



A slightly larger variation of the feathered fan mask stretches around the eyes of models in three of the looks above. Twice in White and once in Green. A Grey slip dress underneath a larger gown-robe in pale Lime forms another easy to wear look with a somewhat classical feel. A raised gather above the knee forms the second visible layer of skirt met by the two folds of an outsized bow tied in front of the figure. Hints of the 18th century catch my eye again in the next look to the right with its dress skirt flowing broadly off the hips. All in White this is another potential bridal look for an international client. The light halter neckline vest-like bodice of the dress could, perhaps be combined with a jacket upon request for places for formal than others. The contrast of the Green trim encircling the eyes created a unique polarity within the look.


To the right the roses return in a close cut above the knee dress featuring the out-sized bow once more but this time, at each shoulder. The soft delicacy of the print design is contrasted with the contemporary cut and feel of the look. Fringed with a band of net skirt finished with a trim of White crystal, this look sparkles and shines on the wearer. A festoon of Magenta rosettes surround the model of the next dress, stretching up through the fabric lengths to almost below the shoulders. Curled folds of netting that would be the underskirts hidden from view, rise up through the figure length in a raised flamenco style or sea anemone that waves gently in the sea current. It’s another fantastical design made real by Valli; a designer who seeks to faultlessly execute a vision. The dimensions of this dress leave no doubt that it’s something that’s meant to be seen and cherished.       



A floral design appears again in a full length dress that play elegantly on the theme of escalloped curves. Ruffles surround the collar descending through the centre close of the jacket and to the circular hemline trim. It’s a gown-dress of regal and theatrical proportions that could be worn by a client in the public eye or a person who does some serious entertaining privately, perhaps to raise money for charity. A White ribbon tied at the waist in a generous bow echoes the White of the feather mask that encircled the eyes. Channelling the ‘Belle Époque’ and visits to balls in the late 19th and early 20th century, the Damask Rose gown dress captures at least four tiers of ruched frills in the hem at the length  of the garment. The would suit a glide down the staircases of any European Opera house or a grand stately home and once again shows Giambatista Valli’s penchant for creating pieces on an almost theatrical scale of spectacle and opulence. Tied above the waist the jacket balloons into two shoulders enunciated by the two bows of a ribbon tie. A mask framed in Orange feathers adds a subtle clash/contrast as seen earlier in the collection and enhances the feel of warm tones of Summer for the coming season.


Soft pale colours make an entrance as the dresses become larger, flowing and bridal-esque. A pale White-Rose dress. The bandeau neckline dress is accented with a large bow around the waist before descending to a full skirt radiating away from the figure like a flower head or a burst of music or light. This is both a ball gown dress for having a good time in and a piece of contemporary fashion-art as I believe all Haute Couture really is. To the far right soft Buttercup Yellow flowers dot the surface of another voluminous dress that echoes several time frames across the last 150 years from the ‘Belle Époque’ to the 1950’s and 1980’s; the reason, in my opinion, is that volume always returns when people are tired of seeing the figure hugging styles that leave little to the imagination, or more modest tastes. The broadest of sleeves imaginable in generous volume and a crystal stoned belt cinching the waist add to the creation of a fun and generous silhouette.          



The look at this season’s collection closes with a display of three incredibly opulent dresses that will leave a mark in the memory. A large Saffron cape-dress flows to a tremendously long train of film and stage star proportions. This is one of the areas where Valli excels himself, creating the memorable show stopping gown, as much for dramatic effect as personal pleasure. It’s a piece not easy to forget and the froth of ruched gathers around the hem, perhaps a dozen layers deep, give the dress a feeling of volume and energy all of its own. With a feather framed mask crowing the look it’s a simple yet effective statement.


Centre above a sugar Pink cascade of flourishes float around the shoulders of the wearer whilst the cut of the dress beneath the layers is shaped to flatter the tall slim line silhouette. The flounces of the shoulders reach down the length of the skirt to the right of the model and at the left a side split accentuates the expression of length in the design. It’s another show stopper and a confident Black tie or cocktail dress. To the right, the piece at the collection closes with a bold duckling down Yellow dress featuring another supreme train that will take centre stage on a Red Carpet or staircase next season. The beauty of the back is made a feature as the model glides away from the audience. We see the skirt from behind as the closely gathered ruffles encircle the figure before cascading to the monumental train. Valli’s muse exited the stage this season leaving a memorable performance behind her.         

 




Giorgio Armani Private

Images (c) Filippo Fior


He’s one of the most respected names in fashion and his own respect for women is evident in the way that he dresses them and his pride in this shown in recent comments given and written up in Women’s Wear Daily in 2020 defending women within and also from the fashion industry.



The collection opens with day to eveningwear suits, one of the staples of the Armani Lady’s wardrobe that she can wear to lunch or meetings at any place around the world. The debut jacket of the collection in White Gold is cut with a rising crop at the opening above the waist, hip pockets and single button cross over. The trousers are silk print with a clever shape that face-on depicts a human either standing strong or dancing to the naked eye. The look is accessorised with an oblong shaped bag in deep jewel box colour, this time in Green as with many looks of the collection.


It’s an appearance that looks fresh, post millennial and quite unique. The identikit hair and cloche hat styles of the models through the collection focussed the eye on the style. The second look to the right also features the disk drop earring that appear as plate glass, almost ecclesiastical stained glass and a look in harmony with the designs running through the collection. A sheer blouse is strafed with colour resembling ostrich feathers in harmony with the design of the trousers. A single colour belt tie at the waist sits above the hips keeping soft disciplined style above a soft kaleidoscope of colour in the trousers. The next three looks herald a slightly more classic composed feel in the collection with Warm Pink, Lilac and Sky Blue silk trousers. A sheer blouse with crystals sewn through the fabric sits underneath a Silver jacket worn open with a tick border detailed with crystal at either side. Two looks to the right a shimmering jacket is accented at the jacket opening with crystal jewels bordering a lightning strike collar and jacket trim.


Delicate textures of jacket seem to be a key note of the collection with a chevron design etched in Chocolate-Brown across the surface of a Beige short sleeved bolero style. To the right a jacket cut above the hips in the style of a waistcoat with plumed shoulders of the 1980s is finished with Gold bands at the elbow. In contrast an ankle length jacket bordered with White crystals either side of the opening offers a more richly jewelled theme. Both feature patterned trousers and a jewelled sheer blouse to emphasise the difference in jacket.               



In showing change through slow degrees Mr Armani offers a realistic approach to the wardrobe and offers clients the practical frame work of how to build looks from his collection using several interlaced pieces. An elliptical hemmed high waisted jacket featured Silver stain fabric with jewelled pauses in the design. Metallic colours are important to the formation of this collection but so too is the floral. A bold Lapis Blue contrasts the Silver with a large stoned jewel necklace hanging in crescent in harmony with trousers in two layers. Patterned and cut in the traditional Arabian pantaloons style they also feature an outer shift layer of Silver silk. The large flat clutch purse at the models side is created in the same fabric and shaped perfectly for invitations, phones and purses. A soft buckled waist tie continues the theme of a simple belt.


An abstract design of, perhaps, seeds and similar shapes sewn in large deep Pink long stitch is crafted with deep rosette folds along the right side of the jacket opening with a Scarlet band at the centre of the look serving as a soft chic update on the classic belt. To the right a pair of looks utilise the soft combination of metallic and a pastel tone. Peach-Gold and Rose-Gold trousers bring a soft touch of light to two looks that compose abstract images of the Rose into the sheer jackets accompanying them. Tiny pearls accent the shape and form of leaves and swirling circles that appear almost like eyes. The below-the-waist jacket is teamed with a jewelled blouse comprised of lines of stones in vertical drop. The shorter jacket features a mesh outer layer that also over reached past the main garment as with the earlier trousers in traditional arabesque style. Two clutch purses deep Pink and Gold etched with floral patterns complete the look.


A full length look in Rose comprises a figure hugging dress and light outer shift blouse. The outfit appears to be in three tiers of fading strength with a close print pattern at the upper part of the figure and cut away flower shapes in the lower skirt. To the right Blue returns with a jacket composed of light Blue silk overlaid with a sheer paper thin shift embroidered with Golden silk flowers. An abstract design in Gold-Platinum stretches across the surface of Light Blue silk trousers with a Light Blue appearing in the waist and the plate glass earrings. Armani’s girl expresses a taste for art and the intricacies of design that can be found in myriad of works in the contemporary art world. A Lilac design on a Deep Blue backdrop focuses the eye and a contrasting pair of Black silk trousers with a sheer shift outer layer are sewn with floral motifs. Tassels hang from the jacket fasten close and the oblong purse.      

       



The decorative arts spring to mind once again with a jacket richly coloured in soft tiers reminiscent of the colour wave forms in the northern lights that flash across the sky. Black pencil trousers finishing above the ankles are swathed in a sheer outer layer of silk sewn with shimmering crystals in Red and Blue. For Haute Couture week it’s a very bold display of colour honouring the French capital playing host to the shows collections. Through the looks above you can see the permutations of the collection softly flow in a gentle form. That’s what I personally feel Haute Couture should capture, design and craft excellence but there should also be harmony and style in the composition beauty. A Magenta double breasted jacket with invisible hip pockets is combined with a sequence of three fanned-out ear ring-like drops at the fasten of the jacket in harmony with the artistic design that moves to the trousers. To the far right a jacket with a rising curved border with the same fringed drop earrings appeared in a burnished Red with long mid-length trousers in one of the signature geometric prints of the collection.