Thanks to a blossoming schedule in Paris, there are more designers I want to speak about this season and so I've extended my Haute Couture coverage to a second page in the same season for the first time.

Giambatista Valli

Images (C) Giambatisita Valli

Valli is one of the kings of the sumptuous Haute Couture dress and twice a year he presents a collection that cast the spell of glamour over the audience of press, clients and buyers assembled in his rows. This season he blended hints of Renaissance, north Africa and plush eras of the 1980's and 'Belle Epoch' to offer a large collection of pieces that can shimmy into the wardrobe for many occasions. 

A Fez shaped conical hat in Scarlet leads an opening look of the collection with a high collar round neckline descending to a Black silk dress printed with portraits of women from Renaissance Europe. Their contemplative faces are framed by high ruff collars and they hold large bouquets of flowers welcoming in the spring. It's smooth silhouette of silk running down the figure with the vibrant images of the ladies, their dresses and flowers sitting in a juxtaposition with the background, a classical family portrait brought to life on a wearer in the 21st century. You could write a piece about a dress like this itself and for a buyer, it's a piece that could feed the imagination. To the right a mini dress is tied across the shoulders with a wrapped sash across the left shoulder sweeping to a large tied demi bow at the right side. The volume contrast is continued in the body of the dress itself as pared closely to the figure, the lengths are embroidered with sequinned shapes in increasing numbers towards the hemline. Detailed embroidery sewn with crystal jewels, I believe, and Silver and Gold thread create a bold image centre above. A jacket and skirt in contrasting fabrics create a vibrant fun look. The jacket sewn with nature images and a double band at the waist is a celebratory piece whilst bursts of twinkle across the skirt echo the stars of the night sky.

A Black mini-dress makes a statement feature of the bow by the corners arched at the bodice descends to a skirt fronted by a voluminous bow tie. It makes a signature theme for an outfit with character that's ready to hit the dance floor or enjoy a special evening. It's a timeless piece like much of the collection that could live long in the wardrobe. Swooshing and wrapping layers of silk around the figure are what dress deigning dreams are made of and to the right a dress of White organza is wrapped around the figure in swathes of fabric creating a chic mini-dress with a balloon effect coat creating volume in two layers of Black silk at the collar and in the length of the jacket descending to below the hips. Like a shortened version of the traditional cape worn to an Opera or Ball, it's ready for a party. To the right a long sleeved mini dress with applique detail bodice combines shimmer with richly woven waved textile in a piece of bold contrasts. 

High ruffled shoulders in Black silk and organza tulle create the form of angelic wings reaching around the shoulders of the wearer tied with a bow knot in the centre. Creating a simple profile echoing the classic Angelic shape, the dress descends to a mini skirt embroidered with flowers and lightly beaded with tiny pearls. Understated mid-calf boots, as worn by several models in the collection, fit the composition like a glove and this piece would stun on the Red carpet in front of the cameras and anywhere else you would wish. A Silver knit mini-dress bordered at the shoulders, waist and hemline with feathers oozes confidence and creates a fun expression of style with the unmissable finish of Haute Couture. The silver flatters and will bring extra light to the small hours after a long evening. Centre above a broad dress in one of Valli's signature styles plays with the breadth achievable by broad tiers of tulle like a layered cake forming a cape and train behind the wearer. A central core mini-dress in pristine White is beaded with pearls through the length in a splendid tonal contrast. To the right, a Black sequinned caped dress descends from the shoulders above an under-skirt and fastened across the neckline by a Black silk bow. It's a look that appears like a star in it's own right.   

The dipped hem is made a feature with a mini dress style front to a dress descending in a curling fold in a graded lower hemline at the back. Dress and train become one as the garment broadens out to vintage regal proportions. At the shoulders plumed ruffles and light feathers add volume to sleeves and a broad Black silk ribbon on each shoulder. You could be wafting through corridors of numerous famous buildings in the 18th century and suddenly zip forward to the present day wearing this. Red carpet or gala ready it's a striking piece with a timeless feel about it. Centre above a Black cocktail dress accented by feathered gathers of tulle to add volume around the waist and shoulders above a loosely embroidered Black shell of a dress. Tied at the waist with a Black bow the look has a hint of the 1980's and is ready to hit the dance floor. To the right a mini dress is combined with a broad flowing gown embroidered with flowers with a Mother of Pearl hued opalescence. The centre column of the dress is ruched on the horizontal and vertical in the bodice and mini skirt in a captivating mini dress style of it's own. Either side broad sleeves enhance the volume of the piece with a Black silk bow at the neckline echoed in the lengths of the skirt lining visible under the broad caped train. It's a look to make an entrance at a carnival ball or perhaps in awards season or the Cannes film festival. Again the stately dimensions of 18th century style appear again given a bold re-working with a high/low hemline of the early 21st century.          

The hemline contrast is something that Valli is a master at working with and above a series of three looks demonstrate this ably. To the far left a tiered ruffle confection appears on the catwalk. All in Black it's a classic look for any season with the shorter length hinting at warmer days. Closely sewn flowers blend into the body of the dress reaching out across the upper skirt above pin-tucked tulle gathered layers. Hints of Spanish flamenco attire and late 17th and 18th century broad dresses fill the frame and give the glamorous opulence that Valli is renown for in his collection. Across the bodice neckline a wide bow ribbon paints a romantic note across the figure and adds an extra hint of prettyness to the ballerina-like style. Centre above a Black dress cut to similar high/low lengths features a plunging neckline and a blouse bodice separated from the skirt by a wide waist band. The fabric is dotted with Rose Pink flowers adding a hint of texture and a sprinkling of spring colour blooms across the surface. To the right, a powerful glamour statement features dual asymmetry at the shoulders and in the lengths of the skirt. A draped bodice sweeps into a plumed high shoulder sleeve and a sash-tie around the waist sits in a bow above a thigh split. With flowing lengths of tulle in the skirt surrounding the figure, it's a Red Carpet ready piece that would suit a variety of clients and could be tweaked subtly to suit clients of different heights.        

The feel of Spanish infused design and 18th century line returns again in the dress above to the left sending a bold Scarlet look down the catwalk in front of the assembled audience. Lighting up the contemporary catwalk, this piece compliments a slim line figure with it's rhapsody of ruching at the across the bodice under a sweetheart neckline tied with a bow at the mid decolette. Below the hips, a layered skirt with volume enhanced with the finest pin-tucks swathes the wearer and descend in graduated tiers to a train behind her as she walks. It's another fantastic piece for the spotlight and be it the Met Gala, Cannes or a private party or date night, this look will make an entrance and memories to cherish. Centre above a feature cocktail dress is accentuated with a broad circular disc of satin silk flowing in imperial proportions behind the wearer. At the same time this look is light and easy for the wearer to carry through an evening event and has universal glamour appeal. The bodice is composed of the loop folds of a bow siting loosely across the shoulders. A simple line mini-skirt finished the look playing a gentle contrast to the soft curves of the shoulders and flowing skirt lengths. To the right a man's face stares out at the viewer from the Black satin silk surface of a mini-dress accompanied by flowers and the small face of a child. Referencing European high art and enhancing a broad ribbon tied around the neckline to fall in twin lengths combines both vintage and modern classic elements as well as embracing the renewed interest in European portraiture in the current art markets. Simply beautiful.     

A tulle fairytale vision of a ballerina style dress reaching to the grown wraps the wearer in a dream of fabric as she moves in front of the cameras. In pristine White with a Black tie bow across the front of the mid bodice, it combines dual length at the front and the train lengths that Valli has become so well known for. The breadth of this piece is asking for a Red Carpet or a ball room and for awards seasons and film and society gala's it's a look worth giving some serious consideration to for clients. Centre above a bolder piece shows a sheer cape draped from collar to below knee fringed with feathers. Beneath a long line skirt with gathered silk tulle is belted with a crystal jewelled snake reaching above and below the waist defining the mid-point of the figure. This piece could be adapted to include an opaque camisole across the bodice, I believe, for clients with more reserved leanings and would still convey the same message.

To the right a confetti of Gold circular discs stretches across the fabric of another spectacular high/low lengthened dress that sweeps with a self-assurance in front of the assembled audience. A tulle fringed bodice neckline and triple layers in the mini skirt starting at the upper line of the hip enhance the feel of contract between symmetrical alignment and the soft folds of fabric. Teamed with a veil, it hints at the possibility of bridal wear as do the vail-less Scarlet dresses above. Farthest right a feather fantasia in colour degrede clouds around the shoulders and reaches to the upper thigh with earth tones combined with a Violet dawn. A Black silk bow once again ties across the waist and some simple must-have boots add a street savvy twist to this Haute Couture look.   

The metallic shimmer of an updated look at the Empire line dress recalling the Silver Screen era is a chic and daring option for the new season. A twist of fabric crosses the upper figure tied by voluminous bows above the elbow frame the silhouette as it descends through Platinum lengths of the closely wrapped waist band and flowing skirt lengths. The semi-sheer nature of the fabric is revealed in the movement of the wearer with volume created by ample pin-tucking and an image of flowing liquid created. A Rose Pink feathered warp around mini dress is accented by a sparkling crystal or diamond brooch at the waist complimenting the models earrings and giving a twinkling contrast to the soft feathers. A mini-dress descending to a train of regal lengths worthy of any Red Carpet adds an emphasis to the statement look. To the right a sequinned Black shimmer flows down the catwalk with gauzy tulle adding a vail and outer layer to the dress skirt that adds an outer layer of volume. To the right, tulle is tightly folded in a fascinating technique to create a feather-like appearance and soft volume. Two jets of fabric of fabric rise up the bodice like swans wings descending to a high/low flowing dress that also feels as though it takes elements of the fairytale swan Princess in it's design and construction.    

A sheer baby Pink dress is a frothy delight with volume cloaking the wearer in a misty swirl of fabric. Closely gathered plumes of tulle at the shoulders, neckline and decollete create a notion of Angel-like wings around the shoulders of the wearer and the dress skirt in tiered layers forms a soft aura around the wearer. It's a light and easy piece to wear on warm summer nights and easy to accessorise with a variety of purses. Above to the centre a Black dress composed of lengths of nude gaze tulle sewn with Black flowers if crowned with a circle of tulle around the neckline and Black balloon silk sleeves creating a tonal contrast to the sheer dress.

Centre above a Salmon dress also uses a millefeulle of layers in the lengths of a tiered skirt to create a beautiful ensemble for an evening event. Like many of these fantasia dresses that Valli produces, they will suit women of many ages and flatter different figure shapes. To the right a Spanish style dress features Navy Blue metallic sequin-sewn flowers set onto sheer Black tulle. A broad skirt cascades with ample netting gathered in a fishtail form at the front and back of the dress carries a strong suggestion of Spanish panache. A Black dress composed of a sheer layer of tulle banded with a large silk bow at the waist, also in Black is a mysterious option to wear on a summer evening for a concert or a gala. Easily adaptable to different environment and to accessorise, this look with a classic plunge neckline will suit many figure.   

The proof that you can come up with a simple design idea and create endless permutations around it is found here in several more styles of the dual length dresses that create a catwalk fairy-tale for clients to add to their collections. They are also great looks to add to a cinematic wardrobe for filming as make that entrance that signals a showstopper. The froth of Rose Pink tulle encircles the wearer above the knee and drops to a dramatic train in it's lengths flowing behind the wearer. Spanning the catwalk like a number of it's peers, it's perhaps the ultimate ballerina dress transformation. Centre above a dress that both evokes the broad skirts and sewn detail of dresses of the 18th and 19th century as well as a stylised mini-dress mid though. Ruched ribbon fringes bordered the hemline and the lapels of the jacket encircling the neckline of the wearer. It's an emphatic statuesque creation. A beautiful Magenta party dress carries the celebratory ring of a perfect party about it as it sashays before an audience. The mix of mini-dress and floor length gown trailing the wearer accented by the voluminous fabric, is a defining moment of elegance tied with another pretty bow detail of the sweetheart plunge neckline. One of many pieces I would expect to see perhaps at the Cannes film festival or Met Gala.

The jewel like colour themes of this later phase of the collection closely mirror my website with soft Rose Pink, Magenta and Black with the added touch of loving Scarlet added into the mix too. A romantic baby Rose Pink dress is broadly bordered at the neckline and high/low skirt hem with ruched gathered fabrics. This style feature enhances the sense of expansive elegance of the look and will make a confident entrance whilst the gentle colour tone ensure the proportions never feel dramatic. To the right above, a froth of Salmon tulle descends the figure in three layers at the shoulders, bodice and lower waist and the full skirt lengths. Almost in a pompom-like form at the top, the ample volume sits lightly on the figure and would shield against the cooler breezes of Spring evenings.

Below a dress in Scarlett captures the line of the broad hooped dresses of the mid 19th century with an off the shoulder style featuring closely layered ribbons of silk layered through the sleeves to the elbow. A tied bow at the centre of the sweetheart neckline adds a third fabric style detail. It's romantic and doesn't loose it's way in nostalgia, rather it revives and updates with the broad lengths hinting at opulence. Centra below another ballerina influenced dress in the lightest Sugar Pink swirls around the central figure with a bodice comprised of a pompom, itself graduated in layers. This fantasia piece could be adapted into two different styles, one circular and short and the other long and flowing but styled as Valli envisioned, it doesn't look too much. A profusion of fabric lengths reach the floor behind the wearer with the daiphanous piece maintaining a light feel on the body. To the right a Magenta bridal gown is styled with a vail dotted with 10 pence sized discs partly obscuring the wearer. A broad skirt with a gently dipped hem is bordered with a ruched band of fabric adding to the sense of acres of fabric. An apron is seemingly created by ruffle seams on both sides. The pleats and flowing lines of the voluminous skirt are contrasted with the simplicity of the sculpted bodice creating a look blending vintage and today. This is another collection showcasing Valli's boundless energy for creating statement Haute Couture dresses in number.  

Ralph & Russo

Images (C) Ralph & Russo

They are the only British based Haute Couture house to publicaly show on the Paris schedule at present and again this season Ralph & Russo illustrated their flare for bringing out both classic and contemporary looks that offer truly luxurient designs for clients across the world.

Opening with a series of trouser suits, the duo got underway emphasising the trouser suits adaptability to jeweled eveing wear with the clear long lines of the tailoring spectacularly off set by jewelled applique design. A snake coiling around the figure dressed in Key Lime Green. The snake encircles the wearer in this piece making a signature statement of possession and hinting at wiles beneath. A wide brimmed hat angled on a slant dips down besides the right ear of the wearer in an elegantly nonchalant style. Second to the left a soft Baby Rose trouser suit is cut to reflect the lines of the 1960’s and 1970’s when the women’s luxury suit broke through into high fashion in an era when some formal restaurants still didn’t allow women entrance if they wore trousers. This trend from women’s high fashion soon spread from the catwalk to the world as many women longed for the ease of trousers that had been popular in the 1930’s and war time years. Jewelled in dual lines, Green and Red stones are set encircling the collar, pocket lines, and front jacket border. The jacket is cut in panels generously on the figure to give a relaxed feel. Slimline trousers complete a comfortable look.

A day suit in Mint is bordered with scrolling baroque brocade. Flowers in Gold, Blue and Sapphire tipped with White make a gentle colour harmony that you could envisage on the walls of a Palazzo or painted onto the surface of beautiful furniture. It’s a romantic ostentatious piece that would be a wonderful suit to mark a memorable occasion in such as a wedding. Centre above a White trouser suit uses similar beading work this time crafted around the mid torso of the jacket and at the mid length of the trousers above and below the knee. Dual tiered sleeves folded in soft volume add a touch of Spanish flamenco style to the look in a light-hearted and pretty style gesture. A constellation of stars cloak the figure in a sparkly Silvery jumpsuit that features a snake at the waistband wrapping around the figure. The fabric is woven in a light Jacquard style expressing tonal contrast. To the right a Black silk tuxedo jacket dress with elegantly accessorised with a Black silk draped fringed with Golden threads dropping to the knee with rich Golden embroidery. It’s sophisticated and an elegant addition to a wardrobe for special times.       

An asymmetric dropped hemline adds a striking twist to a beautifully composed cocktail dress in sheer fabric woven with cobweb thinness. In intricate geometric design covers the figure in fine panels descending through the length of the garment with mini pompoms rippling around the hemline adds a dimensional contrast to the flat geometry of the dress lengths. A bandeau neckline makes it a light airy piece for Summer nights. A Black bolero jacket-style upper bodice features embroidered floral detail caping the shoulders descends to a woven tweed dress evoking the styles of the 1930’s,40’s and 80’s updated with a slant to the side and slashed across the left leg. For a more subtle look it can be dressed without the gloves and hat.

A sheer Black tulle dress is banded with three tiers of feathers around the wearer with a nude under bodice preventing the look becoming less than demure. With feathers floating around the hemline and semi-precious stones circling the collar it’s got that hint of timeless short party dress fun and elegance that’s been craved by clients of Haute Couture for nearly a century. A sheer White silken sheet of fabric is wrapped around the figure gathered at the waist it’s an illustration of the beautiful effect of the simple of draping that has captivated for thousands of years. An asymmetric design revealing one shoulder creates a contrast alignment with a sparkling crystal and diamond tie at the waist. To the right, a White satin cocktail dress without sleeves is a daring code choice for Black tie and Red Carpet occasions. A diamond jewelled serpent coils around the neckline is complete with articulation to move with the figure of the wearer. Slip to the thigh on the right hand side and opened with zip-like finishing at the seam, it’s a disco mix of the 1980’s and 1990’s bursting out onto the dance floor. Yes, Ralph & Russo I think do update the classics for their clients and with a thriving Haute Couture scene today, it’s obvious that they have a clientele who love exploring the possibilities of bringing design from many eras to their collections and wardrobes in the Haute Couture that they select.

A dress with a jewelled single shoulder band dipping across the figure to create the border of a shoulder-less sleeve over the right arm. Fabric is jewelled with Peridot and Yellow Amethyst and sewn with Golden thread in a captivating Baroque style weaving downward across the bodice and elongates at the sides, almost like a chandelier with the light of the woman inside. The gown is richly embroidered from the hemline working upwards to lines of jewels reaching towards the knees. The beautifully flowing cape that completes the dress is also bordered with the beautifully jewelled golden brocade and ripples and moves with the wearer. A puff of baby Rose feathers swirls around a model as she moves in four tiers separated by bands of a bodice separated by precious stone studded fabric. It’s an inspirational cocktail look to dance in that manages to make what should technically be a bold contrast of garment elements appear to be a natural match.

A shimmering tapestry of fish scales descends the figure centre above with long elegant sleeves offsetting the daring design of the triple ribbon slashed waist and high thigh split of the skirt. It adds some twinkling intrigue as the wearer walks into the room. A bright sash of Magenta wraps around the neckline of the wearer above to the right tracing a line of through to a draped train reaching the floor. The skirt lengths move with a liquid shimmer of embossed sheer metallic Silver fabric cut to a slim line fishtail shape. To the right a floral bejewelled bodice descending to a quatre-tiered skirt of sheer Claret-Purple fabric with flower heads cascading over the surface. Worn with a wrap perhaps on cooler evenings it’s a good option for a variety of events.       

The simple elegance of sheer Black tulle as a perfect starting place for an evening dress that embraces chic simplicity. A sculpted bodice studded with flowers creates the classic fit and flare shape above a flowing midi length skirt. Barely-there gathers at the knee length allow for an expansive use of fabric creating a flattering line. A White dress again using sheer tulle features a ring of swirling ruffles around an open neckline and reached from below the waist to the skirt lengths with a multitude of ruched tiers of fabric floating like under sea flora. It’s a beautiful piece perfect for hot Summer nights.

To the right a myriad of coloured flowers ‘fall’ down the dress from bodice neckline to hem as if thrown in a shower. A Black velvet band at the neckline creates a sweetheart signature above White satin silk. It’s a look that has overtones of bridal as a potential piece to be adapted for the special day as well as memorable choice for a Spring or Summer gala or Red Carpet event such as Cannes. A beautiful Sky Blue dress is tiered with ruched ruffles echoing across the figure of the wearer like waves of sound or light in a natural rhythm. The semi sheer fabric is perfect for warm summer nights, inland or, feeling a marine mood in this piece, also by the sea. For an event on deck or by the pool or beach, this would be cooling choice.


A glittering veil of diamonds is worn like a waterfall in a long line sleeveless dress with a side split at the left hand side reaching to the knee. A large Black ribbon at the left shoulder falls elegantly in its ribbon length as a draped train behind the wearer producing a precise vision of elegance that appears to flow like liquid. Black gloves are sewn with White diamonds and crystal into a serpent form wrapped around the hands, wrists and arms of the wearer. A bright Magenta Pink fishtail dress typifies one of the timeless cocktail and Black-tie ensembles. The neckline is cut to show a band above a cut away triangle scooping out the neckline and also symbolises the strength of the wearer. The skirt cascades to a double puff ball base making a neat stylish volume contrast.

Heart shaped Lilac rosettes wrap around the figure with small glass hearts impressed between the raised fabric. The effect of both opaque fabric and the ability to reflect light adds to the gentle sense of volume created in the length of the dress. To the right, a Black tunic cut in swimsuit lines clings close to the figure with the shimmer and stars of the night sky. In an obverse contrast a gown jacket composed of Rose discs rippling as the wearer walks creating an enveloping answer to the minimalist garment underneath.

A two-tone jacket is creatively styled with a right hand side cut to hip length and decorated with Golden feathers. The left side of the jacket is belted with a jewelled buckle and the jacket itself descends to lengths that create a gown-like train for the wearer as she walks. White trousers complete the suit look for an impact on the Red Carpet. Breathing hints of traditional East Asian textiles (and also possibly late Roman as I look at it) into the collection, a dress is cut and sewn with Golden chord to appear to emulate a fabric wrapped around the figure. The woven golden work is closely sewn at the upper part of the dress and then sheer at the dress lengths below the knee in a playful twist. It’s a beautiful look to capture the light in warm Summer days or nights.

Love is the signature above to the right with two hearts cut at the waist of a Black tulle mini dress echoing the verve of 1980’s style in their ruffled pleats. It’s a beautiful evening look that will slip happily into the wardrobe and would suit a variety of clients with Red Carpet commitments in mind. The lightest Blue, be it Sky or Duck Egg to your eye, forms the dress furthest to the right. Draped fabric in Greco Roman style sits over a nude coloured dress embroidered with a constellation of crystals hanging close to the figure. Sweeping gently along the billow of the fabric will bring a cooling breeze around the wearer as she walks in the heat of the Summer around the world. It’s a romantic piece and one of my personal favourites.

Another possible bridal option appears in a high-low hemline of a dress featuring sculpted swirls of circular discs radiating across the surface of the fabric of a dress again like waves or sound or light. Expanding confidently into the lengths of the broad skirt, it’s an elegant show stopping piece that’s camera ready but also would suit many private occasions. Centre above a regal deep Purple dress is cut on more demure lines and would be a versatile piece for formal occasions for clients on duty around the world. Tailored to be off the shoulder, ruffled sleeves and a sash-tied neckline hint at the formal dresses of the 19th century whilst the bodice carefully moulded around the figure to the low waist shows the modern style aesthetic.

A Platinum-Gold broad skirted full dress mixes up ruffles in the dipped hem skirt lengths and swathed sashes of fabric across the bodice. This fit and flair style is a universally flattering look for all women and it’s a code that works well for more formal settings where it’s appropriate to be covered up a little more. With swathes of fabric descending from the shoulders, to add a soft floating volume and an iridescent Rose shines through in the fabric light a beautiful light coming from within of the wearer.    

An Ice Blue-Violet dress featuring a slant at the neckline, waist and hemline cascades beautiful volume across the figure. It’s a timeless classic with a signature stamp of Ralph & Russo looking to update, ever so subtly, the codes of elegance in Haute Couture that pass from one generation to the next. It’s a dream for a midsummer night’s ball. Centre above an Azure Blue dress uses the single shoulder motif to drop graduated asymmetry into the look by wrapping fabric horizontally across the bodice of the wearer. Layers of tulle float around the figure, light as a feather and capture and amplify hints of breeze to keep the wearer as cool as possible.  

To close the collection, the Bridal dress was created with over 10,000 hours of dedicated care from the skilled hands of the atelier. Crystals and diamonds sewn onto White silk with Silver thread conjure a spectacular vision for the closing Bridal showpiece. It captures the skill of the atelier and every possible permutation of style that can be worked into a bridal gown. I often feel these dresses that Tamara and Michael show each season could be placed in a museum of their own one day. Who knows but I think they would fascinate an audience for centuries to come.  


Images (C) Schiaparelli

Living Elsa’s vision, when the lady herself is no longer with us is a challenge but it’s one that the House continues to carry off well under the style direction of Bertrand Guyon. Elsa’s hunger for creative dynamism that signalled eccentricity for some gives the House a broad canvas with which to work on.

A sunlit constellation of a dress opened the collection with Golden light issuing forth from the core heart centre of the figure. A tunic of Blush silk was streaked by the rays of the light of the central star. A hint of Schiaparelli un-convention appears in the shorts peeping out from beneath the tunic echoing the colours of the sun’s rays. Balloon sleeves in Blush tulle are sewn with stars to bring night and day together in cosmic union on the figure. The head is crowned with a star over the ‘middle eye’ and lines of Spinel bead trace up the forehead to the crown sitting under the Schiaparelli name.  A high ruff collar in the clown like style Schiaparelli favoured creates a neckline for a flowing sleeveless sheer blouse. Below this a dress belted with a thick Golden band cascades into a series of tiers of fabric like a clear running fountain. Rose coloured stars cover her eyes as she walks in the world.

A feather sensation of a mini-dress blends the contrasting colours of Blue and Pink are blended together by a central Light Mauve-Rose. Tied at the waist with a White ribbon, it’s ‘cowboy boots’ could be swapped for gentle heels or flats to make a more demure impact. A halter neckline infused with Rose Pink feathers creates a gentle volume complimented by voluminous layers of gauzy silk in the skirt like a lengthened ballerina skirt. To the right a skirt suit is embroidered with the leaves of Spring and sewn with round flowers in applique across the surface. A fringe of pleated tulle peeps out from the hemline and at the neckline a gauzy large tied bow seals a look of feminine chic. 

An orb of Lilac feathers, some tipped in Scarlett forms a voluminous sphere over the base of a White mini dress. This bold piece concealing the arms of wearer encapsulates the Schiaparelli theme of having fun. A sash-tied coat dress is swept to the side of the figure with gentle folds in the Egg Shell Blue fabric. Vibrant flowers border the shoulders, sleeves and the coat dress hemline with the jacket opening offering simple ease of movement in the figure. A tiny box clutch like a mini-suitcase hints at ideas of escape and travel.

The night sky often encapsulates dreams and fantasy and a long coat dress strewn with illustrations of the constellations and the characters who inhabited them is off-set with Puff ball sphere’s marking the cuffs and the head dress. It’s a piece for carnival and illustrates the active mind I think Elsa Schiaparelli envisioned in her clients. To the right, a dipped hem bell-shaped dress in Lime is richly embroidered with bright flowers. Majestic Scarlet and Purple tulle peeping out from the base of the dress makes a contrast in the bold style of Schiaparelli. A Silver short jump suit with hot Pink tulle fringe brings the Disco era of the 1970’s to the collection, a space age feel evoking the transatlantic night club scene from Rome, to Paris and London to New York. 

A deep Rose dress is ready for the party with at least three layers of ruffles at the collar descending to a confetti of flowers across the surface of the garment. A base of pure White for the body of the dress is supported by a fringe of a White tulle underskirt peeping out from below. Ready to dance. Grey isn’t always a colour that you associate with evening dresses but ever to challenge convention or perceived norms, Schiaparelli brought out a look sewn with jewel-like crystals and giant sized confetti. A Yellow bow tied at the waist adds a direct contrast to the dusky sky Grey. Centre above a Lemon pastel jacket swirling with fabric rippling back and forth at the shoulders adds an Haute Couture flourish to a jacket finely tailored at the waist. The smooth lines of satin are contrasted by the Yolk Yellow of the skirt and it’s pleated Lilac under skirt.

Blue satin swirling in arced waves around the right shoulder descending through to the waist of an imaginative piece for cocktail and Black-tie dress. A brief Navy fringe of pleated tulle emerges from beneath the hemline providing a subtle colour contrast. The most classic A-line shape is enhanced with swirls and folds and like many Schiaparelli pieces the garment has the impression of blending walking art with fashion. Bands of neon colours encircle a dress reflecting the light and passion of the millennial disco era in a literal sense.  

A Black sequinned skirt suit is cut in an echo mantua style with a high flat collar and moulded hips blending what was traditionally male and female in one. It’s an adaptable look that could work well for a date night or friends party as well as in pubic at Red Carpet screenings or media commitments.  The swirling bold prints of a tunic dress are an easy addition to the wardrobe for a work or play in the warmer months and this dress could be pared with a jacket on cooler days or nights. A below the knee coat dress with long sleeves and belt cinching the waist is a dynamic look recalling the energy and vibrance of fields of spring flowers.

The mini suitcase clutches appear in this look and the next drawn with the collection signature bold floral designs. The peaceful classic Green and Pink combination appears in the next look realised in feathers as light as angelic wings, the dress in tulip shape with it’s dipped hemline recalls one of the chic cuts that would have been known to Elsa Schiaparelli during her lifetime. It’s a perfect look for Red carpets and Gala dinners to enjoy and feels fun filled. Farthest right another off the shoulder look in bold print uses one of the chic adaptations of the fishtail gown style. With the dress gently draped around the figure, a large bow tied behind the wearer creates ample volume expected in an Haute Couture piece designed to make impact.

The sparkling dust of cosmic lights bursts across the surface of a Black jacket forming part of a suit featuring a tunic dress with tulle under payers and knee length shorts as a contemporary pairing. A stellar clutch cut with the same fabric as the jacket in a classic oblong style is an easy to accessorise piece and would be very popular no doubt if purchased as an individual piece. Next a Rose Pink jacket and shorts form another suit challenging conventions just a touch with the smooth silk dotted with floral applique flower patches growing from the fabric itself. The jacket is sculpted to mantua-esque perfection across the torso and the hips of the wearer. A Green tulle scarf tied in a large bow at the neckline seals the look. A clutch purse also cut in the same fabrics as the jacket and shorts will, I’m sure a highly desirable piece to get hold of next season. The cosmic simplicity of beauty is captures in a Black skater style mini dress cut sleeveless with three stars across the front of the dress below the neckline and on two pockets resting at the hips. A fringe on Magenta tulle under-layer peeps through in an outside/inside colour contrast moment seen in several places in the collection.

A luminous constellation appears again on a White silk suit dress suit bringing the zodiac to live in jewel like colours across its surface. Superbly cut by the Schiaparelli atelier, it’s a show stopping piece teamed with a sweet clutch purse designed in the signature fabric of the garment. This collection inspired partly by the heavenly sky is also deeply connected to the movements of the earth and the next suit cut in identical lines to it’s predecessor shows the earth and maritime creatures that used to inhabit Elsa’s consciousness. The reference to the 18th century mantua dress in the moulded volume cut over the hips is a nod to the observances of carefully designs style of the past. Flower symbols from ancient Indus and Mesopotamian art decorate the skirt lengths fringed with a Black tulle hemline. To the right a floribunda confection of jacket, dress and trousers with box – case clutch forms a beautiful celebration piece to welcome Spring – Summer and the warmer months. It’s a walking tropical paradise and you could wear component parts of the suit individually if you wanted to make a more gentle statement. 

A broad skirted Black dress perfect for Black tie and Red Carpet moments. Flowers appear to rest on tip of each other in raffia-style embroidery with leaves adding a flourish at the neckline. Tulle, that essential element of the glamourous gown, extends down through the lengths of the dress from beneath the flowers to layers surrounding the ankles like a grown-out ballet dress. A Magenta fiesta of tulle ruffles clouds the wearer in soft feathery silken fabric. Adding a romantic volume to the dress as the wearer moves, the waist is tied with a Silk ribbon before descending to a high low skirt falling to a beautiful train behind the wearer. Black gloves and shoes with ribboned ankle straps create a colour contrast.

The high ruff collar style on a long sleeveless dress used earlier in the collection is repeated in a look using water colour leave impressions overlaid in a kaleidoscope effect across the fabric. It’s a light elegant piece, suitable for more formal dress coded events but also has the signature playfulness of Schiaparelli in it’s core. To the right a Black loose fit dress is tied at the waist with a simple cape around the shoulders created from loose draping and two stars placed across the chest of the wearer. Furthest right a regal Purple dress in soft lines features a dropped sash crossing the body from right to left. Its classically elegant recalling the lines of the 1930’s and 1940’s heyday of Elsa as she set up her business and like many pieces in this collection would make a handy option for clients looking for maternity flexibility in the pieces they purchase.      

A White dress jewelled with crystals in it’s lengths again takes it’s cue from the Silver Screen era of Hollywood in it’s lengths and cuts. You could see Rita Heyworth wearing this but also many clients of today will be thrilled to have this long line silhouette as an option for their wardrobes this season. Playing with symmetry in an art deco way fabric fans out across the bodice and at a 45 degree angle sits similarly across the hips to the side before falling to a broad skirt. The simple pleasures of the flower garden are evoked in the long summer dress with garden flowers sewn onto the surface of the pure White fabric. Tied with a broad ribbon at the waist bowed to one side it’s another playful spin on classic lines.

One of the most elaborate dresses seen at Haute Couture week and amongst my personal favourites, a dress featuring three tiered layers in Rose Pink and warm Salmon is embroidered beautifully with flowers in metallic hues radiating light as the wearer moves through the room, or across a garden. It’s another dress that takes hints of the 18th century mantua into it’s composition, that shape worn by women over many generations that would have been so familiar to eyes of the past, topped with an elegant train. A real breath of fresh air. To the right the star theme cherished as lucky and also a symbol of strength appears in soft neons breathing colour and love across the Ivory satin of a voluptuous gown. It could be bridal statement that also references the 18th century court fashions. Erin O’Connor brought out what was traditionally the bridal look in the last piece. A quatre foil piece of neon’s layers of tulle enrobing the figure to conceal an almost ready bump and show the mastery of the atelier in it’s dynamic touch.  

Ulyana Sergeenko

Images (C) Ulyana Sergeenko

Sergeenko is one of the pioneers of the era of clients turned couturiers embracing the fortunate position she is in to pursue her dreams and set her own goals as a business women and establishing an Haute Couture atelier in Moscow. Her homelands of Kazakhstan and the far eastern region where Mongolia and Russia meet with the Central Asian states is a fabled melting pot of culture and from here she takes cues to bring the beauty of her homelands to clients across the globe.

A beautiful Olive Green dress is cut on vintage inspired lines that use the bodice structure of the 18th and 19th century simplified to move with ease across the figure of the modern wearer. A central panel of embroidered lace runs the length of the garment from neckline to the hem and large flourishes at the shoulders and elbow amplify volume in the sleeves. Ripples of silk trace lines from the waist to the floor beneath the hemline and the antique is mixed with the modern in one step. A Grey coat dress is swathed in Black lace around the waist again creating an adroit blend of the contemporary and the heritage belted together. A lace cap seen in several looks of the collection and large Black boots complete the look.

A strong sense of the traditional pervades the next garment with a full length dress and a head covering shawl embodying traditional Russian and Eurasian modest clothing. Intricate embroidery expressing flowers at the boader of the shawl and the sash apron of the dress recall the sweet flowers that grow in a Russian spring after the harshness of winter. To the right, the lace cap is extended to a partial veil covering the lower face of the  wearer offering mystery and an alternative to the traditional masque worn at carnival. Visible in this portrait are the voluminous tiered shoulders seen in full length in the image below. It's a beautiful dress for formal events across the seasons and in it's cool Ice Blue-Grey would look perfect also in a pre-fall ensemble. The woven lace at the bodice that extends down across panels at the hips is breathtaking and the expertly woven layers attract the eye. Below to the left a White blouse is generously layered with the thinest woven silk embroidery. The model, as in the next piece to the centre, a portait inset of the look above, is wearing the crosses that represent the church, a traditional mainstay of the faith that helped bind the many regions of Russia together. There is a quiet confidence of strength and self belief in these looks that carry the finger print of faith.  

The traditional Russian wardrobe clearly provides a bounty of choice for Sergeenko in creating her designs. Above left a smock blouse is crafted in the most intricate detail with intricate lace panels at the bodice and sewn in places across the arms. The fabric is generous giing ample room in hte sleeves and also cut to resemble the lines of traditional Russian cossak shirts with their rounded collars and cuffs. A Black lace mantle trims the side of the skirt of the dress, held in place with a Black belt which, along with the Black boots, emphasises the Russian sense of practicality and strength along with delicate beauty. Another modern poetic vision of beauty sees the traditional dress bodice deconstructed with Nude-Blush fabric sewn with cool Grey-Blue flowers half open-folded against an underlayer of Scarlet silk. The border of this folded bodice descends to the hemline where the dress completes it's round in a wrap-over style with small flowers becoming larger ones on the other side of the dress.   

A relaxed form of the 19th century silhouette appears next in a dress that matches soft Scarlett velvet of a lightly fitted bodice with acres of small-dot flower fabric. It's a charming piece for formal wear and could sneak into the autumn wardrobe with with such vibrant earth coloured tones. With an elegant train worked into the lengths of the dress it's an aproporaite piece for formal, even state occassions as well as Summer parties. To the right a Black trouser suit makes an experimental play with the sleeves, showing one with baloon sleeves and the other cut close to the figure. What is meaning? Perhaps only Sergeenko knows but the left arm was that that traditionally carried a shield in battle so could carry less flourishes of style.  

Another look, seemingly masculine inspired takes the suit of armour analogy with both hands so to speak and dresse the woman ready to face the elements of a cold Russian Spring in many layers of beautifully sewn applique adorning a coat dress. Contrasting in soft White an expansive dress with bridal over tones 'listens' to the design wisdom of Mother Russia. Detailed embroidery crossing the fabric in the sleeves and forming a central column down the length of the dress is amplified in giant rosettes in the lower skirts. For a ball or wedding, day or night this would be a wonderful treasure to add to your collection and honour the creative history of the Russias. To the right two romantic dresses feature prominent hints of the countryside clothing styles of Russian women as they went about their lives. These unsung heros of Russia's past are quietly celebrated. A Blush toned bodice is given a high lace neckline in White with soft bouquets of flowers gathered in a broad border at the hips and strewing the lengths of the dress. A tissue outer layer of the dress gathers fabric in volume around the figure. To the right a sheer Charcoal Grey dress with soft bodice is overlaid with gauzy light fabric sewn with flowers growing upwards in ever increasing size. To floats light as a ghost as the wearer walks into the room.    

A hint of Noir and perhaps even the Gothic enters the collection with a series of dresses featuring strong colours that potentially conceal deep passions. A full length Black dress blends three different textile fabrics with smooth Black satin in voluminous upper sleeves and skirt lengths. Volume is created by encapsulating a double tiered hemline of the dress with gathered frills in short and long style above the knee and gathered around the ankles. Embroidered silk across the bodice enhances the reference to the late 19th and early 20th century past and a sheer layer of embroidery in the lengths of the sleeves and dropped lower skirt of the dress, itself fringed in Black silk. It would be an epic dress for a ball or gala on the cold nights of a Russian spring. To it's right the traditional long line pinafore dress nods to it's 17th and 18th century origins in the traditional Russian wardrobe. Cut from beautifully woven cloth it's buttoned down the centre in disciplined uniform style with a delicate Silk embroidered blouse sitting underneath. The blouse is a stunning feature in it's own right. Both models wear Golden Russian charm necklaces that form three tiers descending from collar to neckline. 

Centre above a bodice is split bewteen two contrasting fabrics with a Taupe and a deep Scarlett bound together to circle the figure and Charcoal flowers embroiderd across the surface. From the waist a skirt descends gathered with tiny pin-tucks to create volume in antique lines. A bold border encircling the hem at three quarters of the length of the skirt carries the spirit of traditional Russial heritage and craft in a crochet-like design. A gauzey think neck-tie in Black silk runs from the collar bone through the left shoulder down the arm to create a single sleeve. The Belle Epoch lines and volume return again in a milk chocolate coloured dress that is studded with Silver and Gold circles in Geometric formations at the fitted bodice and flowing voluminous skirts. A jewelled high collar neckline adds an twinkling touch of glamour to the look and emphasises the spirit of modern adaptation of a classic. To the right to close the look at this collection, something a little ghostly yet modern looking at the same time. Sheer Grey fabric in finely ribbed lines cut on the bias clothes the figure in a ghostly veil. The dress is gathered by a fitted lace bodice at the waist cut away at the left hand hip with fabric falling open down one side. It appears to match in colour the bodice hidden under the Grey. Women of the original Belle Epoch era could only have dreamed of being so bold, perhaps they did.     

August Getty Atelier

Images (C) August Getty

August Getty is a bright young man, who in his youth may well have seen quite a bit of Haute Couture but now has his sights set firmly on designing for clients himself across the world. After a number of years studying and launching capsule collections, he is now showing presentations on the Paris schedule and I hope very much that we will see much more of him in the future. 

August presented his collection in the saloon of a hotel which gave the atmosphere of where many of his pieces may just find a home. A single shoulder cocktail dress with thigh split dropped beneath a cut away shoulder used intricately woven fabric featuring Golden thread sewn into an Ivory base in nature patterns. A simple Golden pair of heeled shoes completed the look of easy elegance that gives the client that instant wardrobe classic that they need at hand. This, like many of his pieces would also look fabulous in an editorial shoot. The jump suit gets a sophisticated Haute Couture makeover with a White bandeau top matched to wide leg trousers gently embroidered with Black lace floral emblems that are also found in a generous gown jacket that falls behind the wearer in a train. Trains are appearing in many places in Haute Couture currently and what particularly caught my eye was the precision of the length of it in this garment, it falls at a very good bridal angle.  

A Whote tuxedo outfit complete with tails is bordered with gold brocade in the lengths of the trousers and double buttoned at the waist. It's an elegant look for girls who can't resist a hint of uniform to show off some elongated legs. To the right a daring halter neck dress has a deep cut-away back with cross straps keeping the dress in position above flowing skirt lengths cut to perfectly proportioned train once again. The dress has a sheer outer layer embroidered with flowers giving the effect of movement as the two fabrics move as the wearer walks. Hair tied up in a band nods at heatwave evenings where a cool refreshing drink is welcomed along with good company and conversation.  

A full length Black tie or Gala dress would make another inspired choice for editorial shoots as well as dream choice for clients. Inverting the volume of the folds of the gown by creating open-topped sashes in between them, this look plays with the traditional dynamics of the formal dress to spectacular effect. It's adventurous without being contriversial for a formal occassion and could be worn to a film premiere as well as a function in the arts industry. There's also a tie to the architectural world, I sense in the design and shape. Centre above a ribbed corset with trousers and whisper thin veil blends the sleek and fitted with the daiphanous to perfection in one go. With or without the veil, it;s a beautiful piece and could potentially be a bridal option for those looking for an alternative to the traditional dress. White pervades the collection as it's central colour theme with mettalics added for effect and it has lead me to think of many of the pieces in the guise of bridal options to be. To the right above a cocktail dress is composed of finely ruched fabrics with a central tunic descending to a plethora of fine pleats falling to just above the knee. A broad Alice band holds the hair iin place and will keep it tamed on hot nights. It also hints at another era referenced through the collection, the 1960's and the high hemlines and breakthrough of trousers into acceptable Haute Couture for women.

A beautiful White silk suit is a dream come true for many wardrobes and August teams this with a Platinum blouse with high ruff collar. Sitting close but comfortably on the figure with a jacket formed in a casual variation of the double breasted style. Jewelled applique raised from the surface of the fabric seals the look of Haute Couture perfection. Centre above two dresses use the Platinum colour code to create looks that appear to be composed of glass-like sheets of jewel sewn onto the surface of the fabric. A long line cocktail dress places with geometry adding volume by creating a cone of fabric swirling at the right hand waist of the figure. This play on mathmatics is further enhanced by the optical effect of the light reflected off the surface of the glass as the wearer moves. She literally looks like a star in a constellation. A long line column dress with a plunging side split is complementary to a well kept shape. Again the Platinum glasslike surface of the dress appears to move like liquid as the wearer walks. A dream for photoshoots as is the next look. A soft diaphanous dress looks ready for cocktail hour or the Red Carpet in the heat of the Summer in Europe or the Americas. This is a dress that is easy to assimilate into a collection and will hot the spot for clients looking for something to compliment long silhouettes and be cool in high temperatures.

A trio of bridal possibilites close the collections with a dramatically dipped hem dress completed with trousers in a clever combination allowing for the skirt front to be raised to give it the purpose of creating a train behind the wearer.The fabric is double sided with a smooth satin overlayed with a chrochet style second layer that produces a fascinating texture. It's a memorable piece that shows a designers skill and imagination. Centre above a Golden lattice covering the surface of a bell shaped outer dress recalls the tinsel twines of the 16th century that where used in high fashion clothes across Europe for both women and men. It's shoulderless composition makes a clear succinct impression as the garment greets the eye as in two phases. A second skirt of gathered tulle stretches out from underneath the mini dress to the floor with a boundless volume of fabric encircling the wearer. A great Red Carpet or Gala piece and also a contemporary idea for bridal. To the right to close this look at the collection and the season on this page a shirt dress in classic form shows how this 'borrowed from the boyfriend' or men's taylor has become a classic of the women's wardrobe in it's own right. In White-Ivory satin it's smooth lines flow from the collar with volume added in the sleeves and Rococo effect adding that touch of Haute Couture magic.