Haute Couture Spring & Summer 2020 part 2
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, 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.
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 opened with a demure one piece dress that merged 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 ever growing client base are often well served.
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 in a shorter cut of the traditional sinlge-breasted jacket adopts a sweeping curve to the waistcoat to the Blood Orange piece. Fastened with a drop-tassel button feature that could also be a piece of jewellery, the signature patterns trousers complete an easy harmony in the total look.
The boldest Lapis Blue announced a strong note of clarity in the fourth and fifth looks of the passage above with a jacket and trousers blocking colour as one. Fine linear seams to fit the garments to the model and client like the proverbial glove, are off-set by the clever use of a ruched twist of fabric at the neckline. Resting at the shoulder with a clasp fasten finished with the signature jewel tone of the collection, this is a piece that fuses jewellery and clothing into one. Emerging from beneath a plunge neckline Lapis blazer, a Platinum shift vest edged with crystals is a nod the 1920s era of whisper thin shift fabric, embellished with shimmering detail. Silk trousers take a detour to feature an intricate pattern encircling the waist with a diamond placement and blazes of Magenta at the lower calf. Clutch purses are a fluid feature through this collection and circular shapes held quietly at the waist echo the rounded glass shapes that drop from the ears. Using imagination with familiar shape is a key feature of this collection. A jacket fastened at the side of the neckline echoing traditional Chinese garments is finished with a twist of fabric at the waist dipping on the bias. Beneath the Black of the garment, Lapis Blue is visible in the twist at the waist as well as flashed of colour from the jacket lining visible in up turned sleeves in the seasons’ collection theme.
As the collection edges more towards eveningwear, the bright tones of the Peacocks plumes are suggested in the palette. An edge is added by the impression of animal fabrics in a Black leather jacket matched to a crystal jewelled Blush shift blouse and statement print silk skirt with Rose Pink diamond lozenges featuring as the stand-out motif. A clutch purse in matching colours completed the look with impact combined with neatness. The bold signature of Lapis Blue retuned with a jacket and wide culottes trousers that enveloped the figure, first in fitted uniformity with a blazer style accented with a blaze of Green and then the contrasting soft expanse of fabric swirling around the lower figure. There was a feeling of precision in the statement giving way to the bohemian in the jacket dress to the right with its fine weave falling to free moving tassels in the length of the garment. Beneath, a finely woven sheer blouse enveloped the figure paired to Lapis Blue trousers, sitting comfortably around the figure. The veins of colour of the Peacocks feathers even flow through the points of the shoes.
A silk jacket with floral motifs in Red Ochre and Black makes an understated partner to a pair of trousers in Black with an outer shift layer featuring applique tassels in Red and Blue. It has the look and feel of a celebratory piece with movement created within the garment. A flower patterned bolero jacket worn open with sheer vest crystal sewn for sparkling impact, highlights the sense of movement through the look with waves of Blue and Gold brining a lustre to the look. Once again, a shift layer replete with crystal-sewn tassels brought an extra dimension of movement. A smart Black jacket is sewn with Black semi-precious stones through the length of the side-fastening through to the collar where it blends into a necklace. The signature print of the collection returned in some expertly tailored trousers cut to the House perfection of Armani. Office, lunch, leisure shopping or at the aero port privé, it’s a look that could find itself at ease in many corners of the world as could much of the collection.
Texture is explored as the ‘passages’ move through to the evening. A beaded sleeveless jacket sits over a light vest of beads suspended vertically, just as it’s companion piece. The two translucent layers build to give a partly opaque appearance with the chevron accents of the signature print of the collection featured in the beading design. A long line skirt resting on the hips, featured soft box pleats at the waist descending through Black into Rose-Pink with peacock feather coloured diamond lozenges in between. The tassels of the next blouse meet somewhere halfway between wearable fashion and jewellery. It could be a garment, it could be a necklace with shoulder support. A sheer vest blouse is blended in hints of the Peacock colours above another bolt of Lapis Blue flowing the length of the figure in a graciously cut elegant skirt. Twin Lapis stones appeared to be created into antique-framed earrings dangling with a carefree bohemian sense of antiquity from the wearers ears.
Where trousers feature from the offering of Armani Privé they do so in an imaginative salute to the highest powers of Haute Couture elegance. Shift outer layers over delicately cut fabric create an ethereal floating three dimensional effect to these garments. Matched to a blouse of blocked Lapis Blue and an exquisitely cut chinois bolero cut jacket in Black silk edged with Emerald, they both cut a style of soft formidability. Jewellery to accompany is formed from beaded lengths in a shifting curtain of coloured movement. The crescent moon shape of the clutch purse swirled around the left hands fingers echoes the traditional hints of feminine mystique. An ode to classic Chinese heritage style is referenced in a Black silk jacket cut high at the waist with a cut-away tuxedo fasten. Sewn with Emerald silks to represent both nature and the straight line of human-made form, it’s a beautiful piece of artfully made fashion. Natural lines are also contrasted in the diamond lozenge-shaped emblems sewn through the length of the trousers in keeping with the collection theme as does the tissue-thin sheer blouse sewn with crystal, just visible underneath the jacket.
The elegant simplicity of the classic evening dress is something that can never be overlooked. Two dresses to the furthest right of the range of looks above signal a note of Green with shimmering movement created through a dropped veil of sequins falling over the bodice to reach above the waist. The dress and two outer shifts of skirt fabric and sequin veil both move as the wearer walks. The playful combination of Rose and Green appear as a base layer with graduated adornment across the surface. Green interlacing accents wrap around the figure in a bolder contrast to the elements of the dress to the right. A more demure statement transfers Emerald to a liquidy potion for a warm summer night wrapped in a crystal-sewn shift outer dress skirt that was strafed with hues of White-Green into Blues and Lilac. Lines of contrasting colour darting at a 45 degree angle to me gave the impression of shooting stars tracing through the sky on a summer nights evening. Perhaps Armani’s lady this summer will see such sights in the sky when she takes the evening air during a party journeying through the night.
The strength of colour is a vocal part of this collection with many shades of Green melting into Blue walking before the audience. The beaded bodice hanging almost like a veil is created mostly in Black with a hint of a few White beads to give variety to the look. A Teal skirt flows through the length of the figure to present a seamless transition of texture. The model appears to float into the evening of summer. The following pieces in the frieze also accentuate the ease of movement embodied in the looks. Hints of Peacock colour melting through the shift layers of the next dress also capture the romance of the night sky with streaks of Silver stars created from delicately sewn crystal. From some angles you see Green, from others Purple or Blue. A sweetheart neckline curved across the bodice with the now signature beading is paired to a skirt with a tessellation of floral patterns. Flowers grow up the length of the dress emphasising the life and colour of spring and summer to be found across homelands of Armani and much further afield.
Blues and Greens once again weave a spell around the figure of the wearer and the beaded bodice forms narrower fringes moving in a more subtle wave. With the lower length of the fringe taking on the same appearance as the dress fabric, the transition greeting the eye through the length of the garment is more subtle. Just visible a classic embroidered style clutch and Black court shoes crafted with curved floral piping features send the look further in the direction of eveningwear and formality. This series above like its peers offers a practical selection for clients for a broad spectrum of special events. Streaks of Sliver-White by the feet also perhaps at feather light feet hoping to dance. The Blue of the night sky takes over the stage in the look furthest to the right with a bodice of beads in chevron lines of Green and Blue giving way to a skirt of ruched Blue silk lengths. The chevron band is accented by a Black belt at the waist of the garment, thus adding an alternate texture to the look and strong line of definition. The fine layers of tulle in the dress skirts almost reference the romance of the ballerina look with effortless drops of fabric cascading through the length of the piece.
Print and exploration of design is a key facet of this collection. The creation of shapes that show heartfelt design inspiration blends the notionally humble and Haute Couture to perfection. In many respects there isn’t always a difference between the two as why is one persons delicately crafted homemade dress can be the equal to a piece of Haute Couture from an international atelier in terms of the love and emotional connection that a wearer will have with it. The finest of beaded fringes hang across the bodice with hints of Green and Cerise through the lengths that chime with the colour notes of the accompanying skirts. Rising out from the waist in a soft tulip style, these two lengthy additions to the garments flatter the natural curve of the female form. Soft chevrons in an electric Blue necklace add a hint of electric energy to the composition.
Hugging closer to the figure three full length looks propose ideas for making a memorable Red Carpet entrance or a highlight of special evenings. A central diamond shaped Lapis Blue lozenge features geometrically place Red dots running across the figure beneath a bias angled ruche gather. It’s one of the simplest techniques in fashion design but always looks beautiful. The lower skirt fluted with a fishtail design below the knee adds an extra accent of volume. The bandeau bodice line serves to frame the upper figure, as in its predecessor, with a fluid drop of silk reaching down to the ankles embellished with crystal sewn jewels and vibrant print in signature Pink and Lapis Blue. Geometry is hinted at but never settles as the elements of the dress appear to move in constant motion. A double seam of sheer tulle encircles the hem alternating from the triple layer in the previous design. The strength of Pink returned once more with a crescent bandeau neckline jewelled with crystals across the banding of the bodice and streaked with Blue, Black and Scarlet trough the lengths. A simple pinch of fabric at the lower central point of the bodice allows a little extra fabric to flow into the skirt. Seemingly simple, you need to know and instinctively understand the drape like a language to feel what shall work best. A complementary clutch purse finishes the look to perfection with discreet Black low-heeled shoes.
To the right a tapestry effect possesses the outfit with streaks of colour running across the surface in a patchwork frame of square segments. A sheer blouse, barely visible beneath a silk print jacket is accented by Blue diamond squares set in contrast to the faint squares of the skirt lengths. A bevy of Blues and splashes Green shimmered as the wearer walked before the audience. A thick band around the base of the jacket created an outer offset of texture in the look. Irresistible hints of Bohemian danced through the collection. A rounded collar necklace was finished with fringes dropping from the neckline that mirrored the fringes of the earlier bodice pieces.
A hint of more conventional style appears above in the next passage. Floral cut design in lace applique spread in a bias cut pattern across the surface of an Azure-Blue dress. Swept over a single shoulder with flowers positioned at one side, it traces the soft A-line shape of the dress through to the floor. To the right a Midnight Blue dress runs in a shimmering twinkle from bodice to skirt hem with a Navy doted tulle shift layer encircling the wearer. Ruched gathers at the waist of the bodice are complimented by pink tucked gathers of the tulle outer skirt. A band of Black satin that creates a bandeau neckline creates a tonal colour contrast. An escalloped neckline framed the bodice of a shimmering bodysuit composed of Blues, Green and Pinks. This look reverses the traditional sense of what is hidden. The viewer sees the colours from the inside of the figure burst forth in a pool of shimmering Silver light around the wearer with the outer shift dress in Midnight Blue barely disguising them.
Bold Lapis Lazuli Blue in the next two pieces to the right covers the figure in a flash of almost electric-like feel. Both dresses feature a curved bandeau neckline veiled by either a large bow or by a rosette flourish that plays on both space and volume. Flowing lengths of Blue are streaked with Silver and Red and Black in a diffusion reminiscent of fireworks giving out their bursts of colour from the female form. The spontaneity captured in these pieces captures the light an energy around the human form.
Celebratory sparks of Red and Blue streak across the dress fabric on the bias angle and continue the colour themes from the frieze above. The bandeau neckline falls to a full length ensemble of colour and swirling curves of sheer tulle graduated through the length of the dress. It’s perfect for the chime of cocktail hour and for appearances in front of the camera. To the right a little more volume is added to the silhouette with the graduated A-line flow of the skirt reaching out from the waist. The sleeveless blouse above is bordered with fine crystal point stones forming a definitive boundary for the flowers growing and sweeping across the surface of the sheer blouse, sewn with fine embroidery. It’s an eye catching look and one that captures the feeling of vibrant life and energy within the setting of the collection. Richly detailed embroidery is also worked in the bodice of the next look to the right A bandeau neckline is complemented by a circular cut veil of sheer fabric, thus drawing the line of the garment up to the neckline. A tiered shift-layered skirt falls from the thick waist band moving between hips and waist. The expression of width, the play of creating a faintly A line shape as the full length of the dress descends the figure is a classic style. The tonality of the Lapis Blue is never lost and furthest right, another take on the same colour scheme saw the tiers softened to a single flowing length with gentle band detail. Here the Blue is underlayed with Red and White softened and somewhat controlled by the soft lines of Blue. The bodice featured both beeding and gathered tulle in a soft V neckline touching on the sweetheart. Multiple texture and tonality did not overwhelm the composition due to the continuation of the main colour theme.
As the collection drew towards the finale a crescendo of colour awaited the audience. The Armani wasn't afraid to let the palette do the talking and a full-length dress was accented in Cherry Red and Blue as flowers grew across the garment from the fringe of the crescent neckline, through to the length of the dress. Again the sheer outerskirt flared gently to an A Line form, although the translucence never diminished the strong physical presence of the garment. A sheer blouse sewn with fine Black dentelle sat over a thick Lapis Blue belt encircling the waist. This block of colour is singular in the garment set against the gentle myriad of colour moving beneath a high-waisted open jacket to sit over the dappled colours of the dress. Once again Cherry and Lapis strike a strong colour note but are tempered by the elegant soft shift.
A flower blooms across the centre of a sheer bodice making a striking statement of new life and growth. Small petals that also resemble the eye of the Peacock swirl around the figure of the wearer tracing a line through to the arms. The verdant Green of the plants roots and leaves appear to 'grow' downward, if not gownward, through the length of the skirt banded with ribbon-like detailed layers. A sheer outer Green shift dress skirt flows over increasing the look and feel of movement encapsulated within the piece. The wearer literally represents the life of nature and Green oure energy bursting forth for the coming Spring and Summer season. Seasonal themed prints trace their form across the surface of a Black floor length dress. It's proportions nod to formality and convention but the play with colour and a sense of craft and hand-painted in the design give the look an earthy feel beyond the floral illustrations themselves. The finale piece takes the base note of traditional Bridal White and adapts again to fuse nature-design with a heartfelt feel in a formulation closer to geometary. Here there is rhythm and order within nature and the bride is confident in the partial reveal of heritage fringe work beneath a perfectly tailored jacket cut above the waist. The curve of the jacket line echos the soft natural geometary of nature and she walks serene within her own universe.
The name Beccaria rang a bell for me as I know of an 18th century Italian scientist Giovanni Beccaria who conducted fascinating experiments in electricity and was a follower of Benjamin Franklin. While he sought to bring light to students in Palermo, Frascati and Turin’s colleges, his namesake Luisa has brought a soft touch of classic style to women’s fashion in the early 21st century. Luisa Beccaria is an Italian fashion designer who has been sought after to dress many women in her homeland and around the world for a number of years. She is, in fact, a name that many in the UK will only first have heard when she created the beautiful wedding dress of Gabriella Windsor. A memorable example of beautiful tailoring, it complimented the bride and had a light spirit of its own.
Creating full length detailed dresses is a challenge as well as an honour. Looking at Luisa’s designs I was reminded of the times I spent creating sketches as a child in my storey note books at home. There’s a soft romance that doesn’t escape too far into fantasy as these are wearable looks that wrap the figure and embrace both design and comfort.
The first piece from the collection revels in a misty Blue lustre that hints of the gentle wisps in the air around dawn or haze rising above a lake. Beautiful applique flowers grow across the expansive surface of the dress and a small bolero jacket falling from the shoulders and gathered at the arms. There’s a hint of casual to the elegance, but more importantly what I really see and feel is the sense of comfort that comes across. It’s a dress meant to be worn through a day or evening event and treasured, perhaps shared among sisters or close friends and relatives. A dreamy-like feel continues throughout the collection with the romance of the antique set alongside the new.
Ribonned bands of silk gazaar set alongside sheer gauzey silk bands create the effect of stripes through the dress length. Again it’s a soft touch to evoke the feel of the antique and the lines of classic rural folk-ware from the 16th-19th centuries in mainland Europe. A dress bodice with a classic neckline is off-set with puffed sleeves and a full flowing skirt in two tiers. Chic simplicity is amplified by a soft volume cascading across the figure. Classic detail such as pin-tucks defining the upper and lower skirt gives a soft familiarity to the composition. The bands of Blue fabric are strewn with soft Lilac flowers hanging like small wisterias, thus creating a tonal variation of depth. Pin tucks become a defining feature of the next garment with a profusion of frothy Pink-Lilac swirling around the model. Another expansive full length dress uses the flattering fit and flare shaping. The bodice gathered in a barely detectable escallop dip is subtly finished with ruched fabric encircling the figure in contrast to the broad expanse of material flowing beneath. It’s a floaty statement piece to cherish.
A mist of tulle floats around a figure with a simple V cut neckline above a chord-tie waist. The garment looks back to the fresco images of Classical Roman and Greek women’s dresses. The shoulders are caped by abundant drapes across the sleeves with a subtle shift through tones of Blue across the fabric. Sheer fabric becomes opaque in the crush of gathers with a twisting swirl of softness enveloping the wearer. Created in White or other soft tones, this could perhaps be requested as a bridal piece with an enduring romantic quality.
Soft ribbons of light and mid Blue wrap around the figure in a continuation of a fabric used above. Its soft gentle romance is a natural choice for the sunny warm days of summer and with a wrap or light simple jacket could shield from cool breezes. Pin tuck gathers at the waist and the hem utilising simple techniques, add to the nostalgic feel of hand-crafted and home spun with the finesse and skill of the haute couture atelier employed in the realisation. To the right an Ice Blue dress cut in classic fit and flare style is a cool statement for the sunshine months. Aqua crystals tessellated to form a low collar at the neckline also resemble a necklace fusing the garment and jewellery into one. Short puffed sleeves, with a thin band of jewels defining the cuff, form a natural balance to the flared skirt adding to the sense of dignified composure in the composition. The soft expanse of fabric falling in soft panels gently envelops the form and completes the feel of being wrapped in comfort.
These soft romantic forms lend themselves perfectly to Bridal Couture as well as formalwear to be used through the year and in fact for many years. Close gathers of tulle return from the Lilac dress above now more softly curled around the figure in increasing size crafted in Cream-White tones of soft bridal romance. A sleeveless bandeau neckline captures the mood of warm summer days and romantic nights adding to the allure of the floating feel of the garment. As well as brides and very light pastel versions perhaps serving for evening dresses, I could also see this piece being worn by professional singers and instrumental performers on stages across the world.
With the promise of soft sunrise, the soft swirls of twined fabric weave back on each other like the ruffs of lace collars of previous centuries. This shifting, never quite figure of eight on ellipse encircles the neckline to form a collar around the neck of the wearer. It carries the promise of a Golden light within its being and around the wearer as she walks in it too. A broad ribbon-tie at the waist emphasises light, playful romance and to the sides of the wearer pockets open out in soft cornets of lattice. A subtle dipped hem formed a complete encircle with just the faintest amount of gathered net tulle underskirt visible testament to the self-contained volume within giving form and structure. Three texture contrasts of piping, smooth silk and satin silk work seamlessly together.
An ethereal angelic inspiration takes hold in the next piece with a caped dress fringed with a small softly ruched border echoed at the shoulder. The soft fabric of the dress hangs in a loose tunic with a gathered broad centre band of ribbon demarking the waist. Ethereal, yet comfortable, this look has all the hall marks of classic bridal, pared back to an almost bohemian simplicity. To the right a slightly more ostentatious design; fitted at the bodice and flared downward from the waist to a full skirt, provides the potential client with another classic look based on the classic full length fit and flare look. The details portray the hallmarks of the designers’ personality with cut-away segments of geometric design.
Perhaps in an echo of the geometry of Italian cathedrals or myriad variety of venues that a bride could choose to marry in, the square cut trellises that features a flowers, I believe at a corner serve to highlight the perfect natural curve and construction of the human figure. The dress also contains soft external trellis-work pockets, as in a previous garment and a contemporary design eye matches thin straps to swishes of fabric encircling around the lower shoulders. The simple light energy of this garment sums up a sprit within Beccaria’s designs that I feel is detectable. Standing on the foundation of classical forms of structuring to provide a firm basis for interpretation of fresh creative approaches. Beccaria’s studios produce classics and simultaneously embrace a step into the new.
Images (c) Jean-Paul Gaultier
He’s one of the fashion worlds’ most renowned characters and after several decades in the industry Jean-Paul Gaultier decided that this was the season to make a collection in celebration of his ‘back catalogue’ of unique, stylish and often challenging designs. His final collection to be shown to the public and available for order was a tour of the many facets of his fashion life from the naughty and erotic to the serious and empowering via journey through whimsy and delight. Few designers can add so many touches of their personality to a brand and make it a business success but for many decades this designers, who was one of the first to live a lifestyle more akin to that of a rock star, seems to have done.
The representation of women through fashion and the translation into style of expressions of character appear to fascinate Gaultier. Women dressed in childlike clothes, do they speak to women’s lack of power in some parts of society even today? Women shown in faux masculine styled skirt suits nodding to Yves Saint Lauren and Dior but with a contemporary cut, are united by the strength the show in their self-representation. A White pinafore dress opened the show in a fitting reverse of the Haute Couture tradition for a designer who sought to state his individualism and go ‘against the grain’ to use the English Idiom. Frothy layers of White silk gathered in tiers through the skirt are balanced by puff sleeve shoulders reminiscent of the excesses of the 1980’s, the decade that brought Gaultier to the fore in fashion. Somewhere in here the designers renown playful mirth is also present as the model almost skipped along in the image of an ingénue.
Stepping forward the Gaultier woman combines classic looks evoking femininity infused with clear cut tailoring echoing the career woman power dressing mode of the 1980s. A Belle Epoch all of its own. The risqué fishnet stockings are transformed into a base layer chemise running the length of the arms, around the neckline and to the hips. The conventional way to wear the clothes is deconstructed here with a White silk shirt appearing to sit over the chemise stocking with its tied Black tied falling to rounded shirt tails at the hips. Long sleeved black silk gloves rest at the hips and behind, just visible a Black corset holds the look at the upper body before an expansive skirt of tulle in wide weave net skirt dotted with fabric of shirt sleeve offcuts. So in one look we have the burlesque, the cocktail dress and the City girl career woman. Does Gaultier here acknowledge the many faces and many roles that women need to own and live on their pathway to success? Perhaps.
Centre above an immaculately tailored Grey fine wool jacket is placed over the figure, rather than on it above a skirt suit composed of long Black gloves fit for the Opera or Cabaret. The jacket appears to be purposely too small for the lady to wear to what is the message here? That women are greater than fashion itself; that women should wear the clothes and not vice versa maybe. A bold Pink silk jacket tapered finely at the waist also evokes the Bar look of Dior as does its’ predecessor. Yet, the women can’t be constrained and behind her shoulders reach out strongly above a skirt composed of lengths of stockings. Is this a suggestion that Gaultier thinks that the classic style designed by Monsieur Dior was in fact quite restrictive to women? This is something I’ve wondered about for some time given the contrast to pre-war tailoring and also the greater pre-WW2 freedoms many women were starting to achieve in the workplace that where curtailed abruptly in the 1950’s with the return of the housewife moulding. Although exquisitely styled; women are more than this and break beyond it. To the right a diva at home on the Gaultier stage wears a basque in nude silk accented with a myriad of fine lace and silk stockings. Her freedom of expression stands in contrast to the constraint of the clothing that she wears. The lines of pears around her neck add to the tones of glamorous vintage contrasted with the sharp bohemian demi-monde.
May of the most experienced models of the industry walked in this show, all illustrating the true role of the model; to show the clothes at their very best. A nod to the long-term support Gautier received in the Far East is made by integrating historical Japonaise portraits into the surface layer of a Black tulle knee length broad style shift dress. It partly resembles the folk dresses of traditional European costume but its bandeau bodice neckline and single sash shoulder are of today. The model exhibits the classic buoyant confidence of a Gautier girl as she part walks, part dances down the catwalk. Fine Japanese art appears again in the next dress that evolves the two-phase mode of dress a step further. A White bodysuit painted with beautiful delicate flowers is accompanied by a beautiful creation of an outer frame dress featuring circular panels sewn with tradition Japonaise embroidery. It’s absolutely beautiful and a piece that you could spend some time in admiring it’s detail. The total look appears doll-like but the strong colour and focus in the workmanship make it anything but fragile.
Wearing underwear as outerwear was one of the modes that Gaultier will be most associated with when his opus of work is looked back upon by fashion historians. To the right above two looks in Nude Blush ably illustrate how flattering natural tones can be transformed into something with greater impact. A long flowing sheer shift softly reveals the styled under garments of cropped bralette vest and full shorts with girdle surround. It’s a half-dressed boudoir look that captures the gaze of the camera and of potential clients. To the far right British singer and former model Karen Elson ports one of the most Gaultier-esque corsets that you can imagine. With about four layers detectable at the base and a firm thick buckled belt restraining the décolleté area, this is a look of a lady under firm control, probably her own. The eyelet stiches and draw string running up the sides and long gauntlets from wrist to upper arm, both with laces, also hint to the adaptation of foot and leg wear to other areas of the figure, as shown in other expressions in the first phase of the collection show a row above.
The buckled belt comes into its’ own above to the left with what can only be described as the purest form of ‘belt dress’. Eight buckle fastened belts bring the garment to cocktail dress length with three further unfurled pieces hanging open about the lower leg and ankles to form a small train. It’s playful and inspired in the spirit of its’ creator. To the right a mini-dress makes a feature of the bands that appear through classic Gaultier styles of lingerie. Crisscrossing the bodice and hips, the low-rise breast cones are a gentle reminder of some of his best known work of the early 1990’s in dressing Madonna and other private clients. Here the emphasis on the feminine is turned outward with the rear of the look composed of a conventional Black suit jacket, the arms of which appear to reach around the neck of the model as she walks. What is the message? Perhaps to never forget to leave the serious world aside, just occasionally for freedom. Beautiful organza Haute Couture is unleashed in the next look as a full flowing dress, again in the Nude Blush tone of above is crafted into a show-stopping piece that floated in front of the audience. The classic basque-bodice is accentuated to become a dress with the abundant tiered tulle full skirt tied on the diagonal across the right shoulder by a twine of five thick chord-like strands. This rope effect slightly raising the side hem perhaps looks to theatrical performance and the rise of the stage curtain. Tonal effect is created by a shimmering satin placed over a smooth brushed fabric in the upper body of the dress.
The monochrome focus of Black and White has often been employed by Gaultier to create an emphasis both on the style of the design and the wearer. A White shirt dress with Black belted straps fastening around bodice, waist and hips are complemented by Black jacket sleeves all worn over the White shirt. A Black collar is also added to complete the two-tone effect running through the length of the outfit. Whilst you certainly couldn’t run in this look, it appears more a piece to focus on a glide in. To the right the pinstripe, staple of the masculine working wardrobe that Gaultier has long loved playing with, is worked into three similar buckle belts surrounding the figure aside jacket sleeves and gentle culottes worn high up on the hips. Beneath this, a semi-sheer blouse in hound’s-tooth print design offers a subtle contrast in fabric to the look with a hint of a cape in the same material flowing from the shoulders of the garment behind the wearer.
Jean-Paul Gaultier will always be proudly French and the flag that cloaks the nation can also be worn in a myriad of ways. Taking the buckle strap as a starting point, a bold celebration of a dress begins in Blue and descends through White to a Red hem tier of equal size to its counterparts. Pin tucks gentle graduate volume through the length of the garment as it flows around the figure of this modern Marianne. Red leggings and military boots fashioned imbued with shimmering Red sequins hint at a youthful rebellion against the militaristic side of patriotism. The second look above is a tribute to the other famous ‘Jean or John’ of Gaultier’s fashion years and that is John Galliano. Now in much improved health and working for Maison Margeila, the designer left an indelible mark and lasting legacy in Haute Couture, high fashion and Paris itself before his catastrophic burnout. A simple Red fine striped scarf is tied at the neck with the new customary buckle. A beautiful exquisitely cut White pinstripe jacket is uniquely sewn at the front with the draw strings of the corset cinching the double breasted style closed. The Black pinstripe trousers of the City gentleman are sewn with a myriad of zips through the length of the sides in a carefree deconstruction of convention style. All done with a natural ease, a faithful homage to his friend Galliano.
The ease of a Summer dress in dark Naval Blue with a soft bodice line and a dropped waist is accented with White dots across the entire piece. With arms gently appearing in the most natural gesture from the sides of the dress as with the previous look far left, the subtle tied bow at the neckline. For parties or picnics, it would be a fantastic piece. The Sailor is one of the main characters that Gaultier has drawn upon in creating looks for both men and women’s collections. Referencing perhaps the programme of National Service in France, total looks or coordinating separates are a key feature of his work and also adorn several bottles of fragrance that he has released.
Sailor shorts, a crisp shirt and a Baker’s cap. What more could you wish for during the Summer months in Europe, or anywhere else for that matter. However Gaultier can’t leave the norms unchallenged with the shorts revealed to be trousers cut away in the lengths to almost form a train-like structure behind the wearer. In another challenge to the strictures of authority, the knotted tie slung low from the neck is at it’s most casual in the display of rank with three chevrons denoting rank in the Gaultier fashion armed forces. The crisp lines of the high collared shirt contrast with the soft femininity of the off the shoulder bodice from the next look. A contrast line hem from mini at the front, to flowing lengths of bridal-esque tulle train turn the format of the heritage style summer blouse gathered in multitude of soft folds. It’s an easy piece on the eye and the soft sense of classic femininity is accented by the escalloped curves around the upper leg. The naval Blue and White striped opaque leggings are a contrast to the soft floating white but the sense of playful fun is not diminished.
The naval stripe motif, so central to the identity that we have come to know Gauliter’s work though, via one of his chief muses ‘The Sailor’, returned once more in a full circle of stripes. The diaphanous piece almost created the image of a ‘bulls eye’ around the core of the figure of the wearer. This high-waisted blouse encircled the model above culottes style sailor trousers sewn with an open hem and buttons tracing the length of the piece. It transformed the classic summer skirt to trousers and topped with a raised circle peak sailor cap is an ode to alternative uniform styling. It’s a clubbing outfit to party in but hints of the discipline of the navy remain. One of the most sweetly beautiful Gaultier pieces I’ve ever seen walked out with the Blue and White tiers of naval stripes cut thick in naval horizontal through the length of the garment. Flowing like ocean waves over the figure of the wearer through long sleeves and down to the floor, this is dress is a modern ocean goddess piece. To the right another divine feminine take on the splashes of naval colour is cast in a White lace body suit cut with broad curved peaks at the shoulder and a wide classic ‘Boot Cut’ at the leg. Like a muse of the waves disappearing and reappearing through the foam of seas.
The mood transitions to ‘night time’ on the high seas as Bella Hadid walked in a strikingly beautiful Black evening dress. Ready for cocktail hour and a lovely evening dinner, this piece is a memorable play on the classic design of the men’s tuxedo replete with tulle netted skirt adding volume. Black elbow length gloves give a touch of drama to the piece. Bella and any client wearing this tailored to their needs would look stunning as it or styled longer for a slightly more modest look. Film Maker and Designer Farida Khelfa walked in a classically tailored shirt, trousers and tie combination that would be at home on the Red Carpet, at a business meeting or social lunch, drinks or dinner engagement. Simple Gold necklaces set off the look with a touch of brilliance emphasising a contrast between the monochrome and angular and the Gold creative flair.
A trouser suit and a skirt suit give fluid lines with clear definition speaking to both the linear and curve aesthetic. If you closer however Gaultier is questioning traditional form. The crisp White shirt appears to break forth from the left shoulder leaving it exposed to cooler airs of spring or liberated in the light of summer heat. Just as exquisitely tailored is the neighbouring look worn without a shirt but complete with thin tie. There is a touching feel about tribute to Yves St. Laurent in this passage, the translation of the gentleman’s suit to the curves and elongation of the feminine. Shifting up a gear to the more sultry humour that we associate with Gaultier. Black Velvet teamed with sheer lace are two of the classic evening wear fabrics to employ that you can barely miss with. A long tailored coat cut away in a sweep from the front of the figure. With a deep waist and elaborate floral sitting beneath the broad lapels of the jacket, it’s the classic shape played with to perfect effect. A daring leg exposed with quatre tier garter detail extends the confidence of the look. To the far right Gigi Hadid walks in a more open ensemble with the velvet coat dress cut on the bias angle open through an entire side whilst tapered at the waist. Sheer fine silk tulle gave the impression of a sleeveless under blouse whilst under the cool light exposed left shoulder an armoured breast plate, arm guard and wrist guard signalled the return of the warrior to the catwalk. Large ellipses in metal compliment the body jewellery and form a pointed contrast of texture within the composition. Something in the ripple of the thick velvet seam of the sheer tulle echoed the waves evoked in earlier pieces.
Traditional Arabian plated jewellery and styling made an entrance to the collection and shows the strength of the connection between Paris and traditional Arabian culture. The girdle-frame sitting over the Black dress worn by the model pays close attention of geometric form in the tradition of Arabian mathematics. Wearing a beautiful diadem, a veil of silk sheer falls behind the wearer with Golden ankle and cuff bracelet bounding the reaches of the figure. She’s proud and confident in her culture and heritage.
The halter neckline composition is taken to another level again referencing the traditional plated jewellery and adornment of Arabian culture. Plated metals drop from the ears whilst a thick band in a moon-like crescent encircles the neckline. This piece is then jointed to a lower metal plate covering the bodice that forms the halter for the Black velvet fabric to descend the length of the figure. Below the hair line above the forehead a single Black velvet band heralds a sheer veil descending to cover the shoulders and reach the floor with lengths of fabric billowing behind the wearer. It’s soft and delicate to one perception but also exudes strength and confidence that speaks without words. Another queenly figure wears a beautiful off the shoulder dress with a train carried by the character retinue. The gentleman also dressed in Gaultier style is proud to support the leading lady.
To the right a deep rich Bronze-Brown compliments the heritage of the model wearing the piece, it is also readily translatable through a myriad of complexions with a warmth from within. A fine tailored jacket is belted by a broad Bronze plate set with stones around it’s circumference. A broad plate necklace delineates the upper body and the look is literally crowned by a large Bronze diadem from which a sheer train falls. Significantly she holds a staff in her left hand, the traditional denotation of leadership and ‘the voice to be listened to’ in her community or nation.
An essay of colour and cultural references appears in a garment wrapped around the wearer like a soft enveloping blanket. It’s a comfortable robe and filled with references to art in the splashy colour sketch style of the Left Bank stalls you see in Paris. Drawings evoking the skylines of London and Paris hint at the essences of Gaultier’s creative love of his home capital and it’s neighbour across the water. The life and energy of these cities is captured in the designs and a brilliant orange solid hair mask crowns the composition. Travelling further afield the beautiful invocation of traditional Indian design features many layers of sheer Blush silk block printed and wrapped around a model to create an invocation of the sari. In a Gaultier moment the satin Blush undergarments are partly visible at the right shoulder of the wearer in a nod to Jean Paul’s instinct for pushing the boundaries further.
A beautiful incarnation of the classic jumpsuit sees a sequinned bodice crafted with semi-sheer dentelle lace flowers sculpt around the figure. A Black velvet choker surrounds the neck to complete a top to toe appearance. Like all her contemporaries the model is relaxed in her appearance. To the right a trouser suit with double breasted jacket is given coat-tail length to near the floor as a model walking in high heel ports the formal look combined with another classic garment. The tailoring is immaculate, of course, with comfort and ease imbued into the pieces. To the right lingerie is in the eye line as is Gaultier’s custom with a crisply tailored suit jacket matched to stocking and visible shorts. Points at the shoulders add an almost gothic emphasis and the image styling of the model speaks to the sultry Gaultier vampire; powerfully beautiful, fearless and intelligent.
A step further into the boudoir of Gaultier takes the audience to a look that at first seems sensuous but I think had a hidden message. The female figure is presented with a visible corset seen through a sheer dress, it’s frame also visible encircles her in a form showing constraint. The woman is constrained perhaps by convention, but in her heart she can be free by twisting it through showing her inner self. The boat neckline is an unusual feature but adds subtly to the feel of constraint by slightly limiting the movement of the wearer. A shimmering Black blouse and tulle skirt pair up to make a memorable eveningwear suit with flair and soft volume to swirl in a sensuous pool of femininity. It’s a fun outfit.
To the right a head turning moment from Bella Hadid once again as she ported a dress in sheer Blush-White tulle that hugged a figure and gave nuances through the applique lace embroidery running across the surface. The design twines around the figure in a celebration of the natural curves and lines before dropping to a wide plumed flared skirt base. Furthest right a swirl of feathers, silk and embroidered tulle enrobe the model in a soft Cream-White evoking a fairyland image of a bridal dress. It’s a unique and stunning outfit of the imagination that hits the romantic notes of the gothic. The beautiful lace work and fabric weave are set off by the elaborate hair style design. Blond and Platinum tresses whirl around the head of the model-muse as she walks forward from fantasy to reality.
As the collection reached its finalé there was a continued subtle shift towards light ethereal shifting fabrics and a softer almost elfin composition. The queens of the fairy real descended the catwalk opening with a soft Sunflower Yellow dress suit cloaking the figure. Tapered high around the upper thighs, this was complimented by the soft billowing fabric floating behind the wearer. A head dress echoing ancient Far Eastern ceremonial dress design featured a board set to a right-angle behind a head dress wrapped to create a crown. A jewelled necklace composed of stones set around neckline blended seamlessly with the robe. A soft Lilac tone of fabric contrasted with the broad imperious diameter of the garment ruched detail in pin-tucks either side of emphasised graduated tiers. It is the simple classic European way of adding volume to folk clothing and as a beautiful stylistic turn, it more than deserves its place amongst Haute Couture. A bold Blood Orange suite of feather and ruched tulle with feathers in the hair for added emphasis. The dress part looks like a modern punk inspired ball gown and half like a swan lake ensemble but it carried the humour and whit of Gaultier through the collection.
The final two pieces to walk are serious goddess looks. A nuanced Teal dress reflects the bias cut of the line around the figure, rising above the waist and below the neckline in almost a cinched or chevron wave like motion. Feathers and sculpted embroidery surround the bodice whilst the lengths a soft dual layer of silk with sheer underlay falls like fabric released from the hand to the floor. A small train of the dress flutters behind the wearer and two soft silks falling from the shoulder also float behind her, as if in water. Gaultier would not seem entirely himself unless he was challenging and to close the show with the traditional Bridal garment in Black as a suggestion of punk is more than it seems perhaps. Until recent centuries Black was always worn by the wealthiest women or the most senior lady in a Royal court so perhaps this closing reference that may have raised eyebrows is yet another compliment to the strength of women through many ages and cultures. Gaultier at his best.