A Blush of Rose
Paris - July 2014
Haute Couture week in Paris burst into life full of colour and with more Houses than ever before in recent decades showing either in the main schedule or as guest members of Paris Couture syndicate. The nay-sayers of the early-mid 2000's who thought the industry was in jeopardy have been proved spectacularly wrong.
Alexis Mabille is one of the designers who produces superb high-glamour Parisian chic. While his collections always wow and surprise we always know that we will see a certain type of formal wear come from him that his loyal client base can look to for Haute Couture in the grand traditional style. There's always prettiness in Alexis' work and a very soft femininity.
With my well-known love of all things Rose related it was a must to place this look to the left first in the collection. It's a beautiful dropped waist dress reminiscent of some styles from the 1980's but so fresh and so beautiful. I really liked the white fur plumed design of the hat crowned the model too.
The embroidery work here is spectacular and the rose vine gently weaves around the body growing with life. I love the detail of the vine growing across the shoulder of the model also. The floral colours are set against the cream of the dress and the Ivory skirt which I believe is silk tulle.
It's a seemingly simple idea but one that has such a gently strong impact. I think this piece could also be re-worked into a wedding dress possibly for some clients as these days more and more brides seem willing to play with colour in their outfits for their big day. It's a piece that like many of the other n the collection you want to examine more closely in greater detail at first hand and I hope to be able to visit Alexis Atelier in the coming months.
The look above to the left is makes a slight reference to the gothic with a sheer blouse composed of lace tied neatly with a sash ribbon at the waist. Sleeves are cut open at the forearm and trail down into a cape at the back of the blouse. This is a very beautiful piece to be worn in the autumn or winter with the lace echoing the intricate patterns of frost that we begin to see appear when the weather turns colder. It's very beautiful.
The first look above to the left has, for a slight echo of Russia or perhaps Denmark in the deep rich green velvet dress styled slightly on the military men's jacket. The look is softened with the sweetheart neckline of the bodice. The fox fur wrap hints at extra protection for the shoulders against the chill. The next look to the right teams a beautiful ivory cocktail dress with a ruched velvet black jacket trimmed with brown fur. The center dress is a short chic opus on how to transform the basic structures of a traditional 18th century gown into a modern 21st century cocktail dress. The lilac used is a beautiful shade and I also very much liked the tissue - light full sleeved blouse that formed the upper part of the outfit.
Dior are one of the grand master's of Haute Couture and under their new leadership of Raf Simons they really are going from strength to strength. Raf has successfully navigated the fine line between keeping true to the spirit and style of Christian Dior, the founder of the House and bringing in new modern shapes without going too crazy and off-beat. Grand Haute Couture ball gowns still sit alongside the wearable pieces for day to day living that many Couturies are now creating for their clients.
Returning to lace the next two looks in sweeping floor length show a skilled mastery of the medium of lace work. The first outfit is beautifully sheer with a very contemporary twist this outfit used lace featuring the dip-dye look with black gradually seeping into white as the dress trails the floor. I think this would look very striking on a model wearing it for a shoot with snow under foot. The dress furthest to the right brings a warm fiery energy to the cold winter nights. Again there is a lot of beautiful lace detail worked into the garment that is very worthy of closer inspection.
The full length dresses that appeared as the collection drew to a close where very pretty indeed. The lilac gown gown above the left is simply styled no-fuss (although yes it's large) piece that will serve a client well in the next season and beyond where a very formal dress code applied. Center above the midnight blue dress presents an alternative to the traditional style but both this and the lilac dress echo the feel of Dior's New Look from the 1950's. And to close, as always in Haute Couture a bride complete with lace and ribbons.
In an interesting presentational twist Raf showed this collection in sets of 8 to 10 dresses giving the audience a break between each and therefore time to really stop and think about the designs that he had created. This is a practice borrowed from how clothes where shown to clients a very long time ago in salons in the 19th and early 20th centuries before a fashion 'industry' had been born and the clients needs and comforts where served first. Good idea me thinks. In a reversal of the traditional Haute Couture schedule Raf, challenging as ever opened the show with a series of white dresses reflecting the styles and shapes of the traditional 18th century French Court dress. Dresses featured simple bodice styles and flared broadly over the hips. Some of the most intricate detail of all was to be found in the fabrics used themselves. These are pieces to be worm and cherished as beautiful clothes but also works of art. The first look of the collection in particular was breathtaking and the dress' fabric had a beautiful luminescence to it.
Light fresh pastels came into this collection and I really liked the soft pistachio dress to the furthest left with it's rolled up sleeves it's a relaxed looking day or evening piece that I think would also work very well with a long black coat or wrap.
Next to the left is a great combination of light dusty pink and black. Simple straight-cut trousers, a black vest top and a beautiful floor length coat make this an easy-wear smart-casual piece for the autumn and winter seasons. And also these looks are pretty easy to wear across seasons.
The dress to the right again looks to the 18th century to find a new parisienne chic silhouette. Using soft baby pink and with lots of gathering of material to create swing and sway as the model walks it's a great girly party dress.
I could have showed you a couple of looks from the collection that referenced new permutations of the New Look in black but I fell so in love with this part of the collection that I decided to bring you a number of them. For a long beautifully fitted winter coat or jacket Dior as saying that they are still on form in classic understated garment construction and can bring you something superb. Fitted, yet comfortable and a piece that you will be able to love for a long time. Raf closed this Dior show with a bride in a short modern baby blush pink. Again this is an example of the new Haute Couture of dresses and looks that are not always worn once and can be turned to relatively informal occasion use. The only trace of formality with the echo of the 18th century ribbed corset across the front of the dress.
The collection was brought out again in the grounds of the Musee Rodin. It's a beautiful spot and gardens are a quiet corner escape within Paris. The soft pastels for me where an echo of the flower beds here. I think pastels can and should be worn more in the winter months as gentle colour lifts the spirits. These jackets. beginning with the one above to the furthest left are beautifully embroidered to give an extra twist. In their design I see an echo of the 18th century men's frock coat, cut either long like a riding and hunting coat or shorter at the waist. The use of embroidery detail on either side of the jacket opening for me rather echos this style. Contrasting these colours with black polo-neck sweaters and narrow black trousers creates a modern lounge suit for today women to wear in the day or the evening. A vibrant shot of colour is added to the piece with bold coloured shoes. Very chic. The two outfits above to the right play on the Miss Dior theme for me and I really liked the white blouse and midnight blue skirt combination. Also the woolen coat furthest to the left was vintage Dior and I think will be a very popular piece in the order books.
Another beautiful slimline suit appears above left this time with a high bandeau bodice appearing from beneath the jacket matching with snappy gloves and a beautiful clutch bag. An arty theme appears in the next two looks,a two piece skirt suit and beautiful coat sitting over a black beaded dress. Looking pretty jazzy both of these outfits ultra feminine and I think they have a fire and a zest about them that is uniquely flamboyantly Italian. The black high legged outfit is teamed up with a beautifully ruched-effect jacket. It's a perfect evening wear piece and could be mixed and matched with other things. The bright patterned coat again looks to an arts theme and sits on top of a beautiful black mini-dress. Above to the right the sheer poker-dot blouse is perfect matched with the black silk short pants.
This season Armani made a simple and bold colour statement in their Haute Couture in three colours red, black and white. Powerful and gripping it's a canny way of focusing the eye even more onto the design and stylistic traits of the looks in the collections. The collection blended both clear crisp lines with ruffles and a touch of frou frou done Italian style to provide a strong wardrobe of ideas for Autumn-Winter 2014-15.
For me this collection focused on a modern classic Italian tailoring chic. I could feel a strong influence of the 1960's at work. Red is such a strong colour of passion that it adds glamour to an outfit. Many of the looks came out in just one colour, sometimes two. Above to the left is a great black ladies trouser suit set off with gloves, shoes and a matching two-colour purse. Next to it are two cute dresses and matching overlaying coats. The 1960's mini skirt re-appears in the next two looks of bi-colour black and white. To me there is a Mary Quant homage in there ever so slightly and partnered up with two very chic jackets they make great outfits. One of my favourite looks of the collection is to the far right. A beautiful jacket inspired by art deco lines sitting over a low cut dress is a real head turnint look and one that many women can wear. It really does look like elegant artistic playfulness to me.
The collection moves ahead to evening wear and dresses for a more formal occasion. There where lots of strong looks from Armani this season. One of my favourite was the black dress with red carnations printed upon it. Gauze netting whisps around the models neck as she moves and the coordinating clutch in her hand is a gem in itself.
The next dress beside it works the beaded netting theme further and uses it as both part of the dress but also as a hair accessory or veil.
The red dress to the right is a touch of 1930's and 40's movie star chic. Also reminiscent of Hollywood on the Tiber recently celebrated at the V&A in London. This is a wonderfully cut suit even bowing gently at the arches of the elbows it really is truly a mead-to measure garment.
The floor length black evening dress to the far right is one of my favourite looks from the collection. Again I really liked the use of the netted gauze and I wonder if this has been adapted from bridal wear to create a new look in Alta Moda.
This collection is vintage Jean-Paul Gaultier. With touches of gothic and a dark playful sexiness the collection seeps charm from every pore. Looking confident and mysterious, Jean-Paul's girl of this season walked into the lights of the catwalk first in black. Showing age is irrelevant to how you feel he brought a mature model out onto the catwalk that was great to see.
This young British-Australian House are fast becoming known as a leading European Couturier who are giving the clients a traditional very luxuriant experience of Haute Couture which many women around the world still expect. Tamara Ralph is a supremely talented young couturier who is the fourth generation of her family to practice the craft. Their international client base is already very impressive and growing. Many people noted that their show in Paris give premium position to many of their ultra high net worth clients rather than fashion journalists and media crews by and large. Their shows are often hailed as a return to traditional and from the look of things there are plenty of women queuing up for tradition.
The dresses kept coming in beautiful soft shapes that echoing a movie star theme. The pieces looked light and wearable and soft to the touch. The first dress to the left below for example moved lightly on the model as she walked. The soft netting swirling around her hair formed a beautiful head piece. The following two black dresses also played with the poker-dot theme again. The long and sheet outfit was very red carpet glam while the shorter knee length piece could be flexible for a number of occasions with or without the lace head dress. Adding red to the look in the next dress gave a more vibrant colour contrast and the addition the the long veil made me think this could also be an alternative bridal look. The last look I included was the bridal piece of the collection. Dotted with playful spots of strong colour this outfit looked bubbly and frothy in layers of material ruffling down to the floor.
The collection opened with a great walk from Daphne Selfe in her mid-eighties and still lighting up the catwalk. The show ran to the music of Lorde singing her cover of the British Band Tears for Fears, 'everyone wants to rule the World' and to be honest, I really couldn't imagine many tears coming from these ladies - just a cool singularity and perception. Sharp vampire senses lead this vampiric cohort to a master tailor of night-syle.
Daphne's outfit was svelt and close cutting still with comfort. The next look in from the left was one of my favourites of the whole collection. I thought the detail in the coat-jacket was beautiful and the patterns and shapes where very interesting. Teamed with black leather trousers and sharp heeled ankle boots it's a brilliant statement look that could be worn at any point through the day or evening.
This was a very enjoyable collection to see come out and it burst into life on the catwalk with the full force of Italian passion. While I don't think you could describe this as minimalist, the three colour scheme channeled Mr Armani's guiding vision of simple clear strong colours in both men and women's wardrobes.
The looks above show the great scope that Jean Paul found to play with in this collection. Starting with a sharp angular dress above left this look is a sharp reworking of a simple dress in the style of New Look. Can Jean Paul play with conventional looks and make something subtle and sexy, yes, her certainly can. Next is a re-invention on the theme of hounds-tooth tweed. This time worked into a modern ladies suit for the day or the night. A master of disguise, this look generates maximum impact yet conceals the wearer. The next two looks center above play on more classic Jean Paul Gaultier themes and echos of Moulin Rouge appear in the draping of the pieces. The upper parts of the outfit, tunic blouses resemble the theatrical curtains of the stage. Both are very chic and I especially love the gold strands hanging around the head and shoulders of the model wearing the black outfit.
The two looks to the right are very seductive pieces. It's a vamp meets Hollywood moment but these outfits will also serve many women well on private occasions this coming season and long into the future. The beautiful red dress that descends into black with the fabulous beading flowing through the crown on the head down to the waist is one of the most beautiful pieces I think I've ever seen from Jean Paul Gaultier. Is beautiful to the point of being regal. The black trouser suit next to it is a re-working of the YSL classic for women and Jean Paul gives it a contemporary make-over with a touch of mystery and nostalgia in the head scalf added cloaking the ladies head.
The next two looks to the right play on the vampire-ish theme in a cute but sexy way. The tailored coat in the first look to the right borrows strongly from men's collections and is a great piece to work around. The complete outfit looks fantastic but you could also match this jacket with other pieces or be daring and wear it with a white blouse (as here and black sheer tight or stockings. I love the enlarged white cuffs that borrow heavily from men's style and the broad lapels that envelop the model have the effect of making the model look like a white bud within a black rose - a child of the midnight garden. The dress to the furthest right is another of my favourite looks from the collection. A look that feels like Edwardian meets boudoir chic it's a serious dress for going out in the evening in or attending a private party. I think it would look great at events around the Christmas and New Year season.
I picked the next series of looks for their striking qualities to show the diversity of styles that Jean Paul found within this collection. Starting above left with the Silver honeycomb theme I really like the long black coat it's matched with, it's a great women's jacket, perfectly tailored in Haute Couture and you could match this with a variety of different pieces to make a look, several other dresses from this collection could also work with it. Moving on the statement gown detailed with gold chains. Encircling the figure and sloping ever so gently from left to right this bold design captivating. The jacket part of the dress with beautiful golden in-lay has a beautiful velvet texture matched with perfect leather gloves.
The dress above to the right quite literally strips the silhouette bare and both cloaks the figure and reveals is at the same time. Simple red strips cross the figure in an echo of an outfit he made for Mila Jojovich in the 5th Element in the 1990's, one of my favourite films as a teenager. Conchita Wurst the Euro-vision winner of 2014 appeared in a beautiful Rise like a Phoenix dress. For me this had a slightly Minoan Ancient Greek look about it and Conchita's pretty dark hair and beautiful complexion gave her a beautiful Grecian look and in black she was a stunning bride. But not quite the last to walk, Jean Paul saved that for his Angel to close the show. Her outfit was
very beautiful and I'ev shown it from both the front and the back.
Picture perfect Angelic beauty and grace.
Ralph & Russo bring you Haute Couture that draws the light and draws the eyes. With Swarovski crystal in abundance these stunning gowns are embellished in precise detail by hands with many years of experience. Tamara Ralph herself sets very high standards for those who join her atelier, and most of her team come from Houses in Paris with between fifteen and thirty years experience. The first dress above to the left plays with the Dior New Look theme and accelerates it into a new era. This is a 21st Century Haute Couture dress. Relatively simple in it's original conception but highly complex in it's detail. The next dress to the right is, for me, a combination of jacquard meets, soft style chain mail. This gives the dress a form of a flexible net as it stretches over the models figure.
The next dress above to the right runs in strips down the figure delineating the curves of the figure in both lace detail and sheer fabric. I think this and the next dress furthest to the right could make interesting alternatives to the traditional wedding dress. The dress above to the right is one of my favourite that I've seen so far from Ralph & Russo. I think it would look good in wardrobes across the world in a variety of clients lives and it's one of their pieces that is truly inter-generational. For me it has huge 'stop and stare' impact and the dress itself is a work of art as Haute Couture so often is.
If I had to sum up watching one of the shows from the Ralph & Russo House it would be 'masterful'. They are both still in the early years of this house but the style and sophistication carries a great knowledge of design history through it. The lattice style returns again in the next knee length dress again paying homage to the 1950's look. The black short gloves add an extra touch of style. The lilac dress to the right is actually very light in it's movement and the broad full skirt moves along twinkling the wake of the wearer.
The next dress to the right in midnight blue is a beautiful diaphanous dress that flows like liquid around the model. Split to the high leg it's flattering and full of movement and also in one of my favourite colours. The dark midnight blue bodice gives a contrasting form that the rest of the dress moves around and the flowers at the hip are very beautiful. Switching to a more formal style the baby blush pink to the right above is another high glamour piece with defined lines and edges. Adding a dramatic train for emphasis this hugs the figure to show form and style.
Ralph & Russo show a lot of different facets of how form and style can be worked with in this collection. A diverse offering in the structures of the gowns is a key component of their collection. The dress above to the left is a hybrid of both soft flowing fabrics and strong tailored forms. Above the beautiful white dress plays slightly with the theme of the Spanish flamenco dress, multi-layered and multi-lengthed this is a dramatic piece with a celebratory feel to it. The dress above to the right is a beautiful composition of folded hooped skirt flowing around the figure. The hat adds a look for day-time. It's an updated version of the late 1950's style that re-emerged in the 1980's.
The hooped shape returns again in the beautiful black and white dress above and long gloves add extra impact to the style. I couldn't resist including the midnight blue dress above with generous applique detail beginning at the top of the bodice and flowing down over the top of the skirt. The sheer lengths of the skirt are light in their composition and this will be a very comfortable piece to wear through a long evening. It's one of the more traditional styles that Ralph & Russo clients will look for from this house Haute Couture in the classic traditional sense.
The red dress next to it is a brilliant high-impact dress sculpted around the figure in true Hollywood glamour style. The look to the furthest right is a vibrant colour combination of deep magenta seeping into black. The embroidery detail is as always exquisite with the multi-layered form of the depth adding volume and shape. Another impact piece, this is a bold play with colour in the collection and I think it's a fun look that will appeal to some of the houses clients.
The next dress above in strong vibrant red includes a dramatic cape for emphasis of shape and flow. Sweeping the grown in a broad contrast to the close figure hugging cut of the dresses main body this is a theatrical look that will turn heads. The blue dress above center has echos of the 18th century and in a wonderful way it takes the best of the old and mixes it with modern fabrics and a contemporary off the shoulder look. The midnight blue dress above to the right with it's ruffled texture is a very classic design and these two blue looks are heavenly pieces.
The bridal dress that closed the show was probably the grandest of Haute Couture week this season with Ralph and Russo pulling out all the stops for a gown that stretched across the full length of the catwalk. Whether you're a simple tastes girl like me, or a client looking for a dress that is spectacular I think a dress like this that shows such stunning workmanship is a masterclass in Haute Couture creation.
Maison Martin Margeila wowed their audience this season with a display in their hall mark craft-style prints. Opening their collection with quite a down to earth theme of simplicity the white ladies suit to the left below is a carefully crafted formal piece that radiates quiet elegance. The white jacket below embroidered with ferns and fruit contrasts beautifully with the white trousers. Each look sees the model walking out with a face veiled in netting to quietly conceal beauty and preserve some of the mystery of the wearer. The dramatically cut-away dress next to it in yellow, slashed to the high leg for me has an echo of traditional Chinese fabric. I really liked this colour scheme and the white knee-high boots are pretty snappy.
The next dress is another beautiful tapestry style piece embroidered on white fabric. It really is a beautiful piece of work to look at and although the theme is one of historic textiles the look is completely modern, crisp and fresh. The theme of foliage bursting into life across the fabric is very feminine and beautiful and teamed again with the knee length white boots this is outfit makes a strong but not over-powering statement. The look above furthest to the right is a beautiful floor length sheer grey dress with gold and silver spots. A firm corset holds the bodice in place while the length of the skirt flows down across the figure in gentle folds. It's a very pretty piece for the party season that could also live in the wardrobe for seasons going forward like many looks in the collection.
Below to the left is a piece that was one of my favorites that I've seen from MMM. This dress was a beautiful patchwork of fabrics brought together to create a skillfully worked long evening dress. These are fabrics to admire at close quarters and the dress has a beautiful light structure. Partnered with a light ankle length jacket that was also created in the patchwork style it's bold but not over powering. The dress and jacket could be worn individually with other coordinating pieces.
The look next to the right above for me had strong Thai influences, with a bolder array of fabrics blended together in a patch-work style it had a strong cross cultural feel for me and works well with MMM's international, globe-trotting feel. A look for evening this piece was teamed with long while gloves, in harmony with the long white boots, and matched with a very beautiful light white jacket. Again for me this has an echo of beautiful silk jackets from China and Japan. The embroidery detail is delicate and stunning.
Next in the center is a black and white dress that would work very well for slightly formal events. I love the sheer black dress with it's beautiful light frame and geometric structuring. Shimmering with detail and making that wonderful light shimmering sound when a beaded dress walks by you, this piece is a real delight. The white jacket sitting on top adds to the glamour factor and makes this look a little more formal to give MMM fans a House option for such occasions. The next two looks are pure play and fun. I love the blues in the aqua coloured piece and the closing look in dramatic pink and green works a great colour contrast.
Maison Schiaparelli is now in it's second season of it's new life as a re-born Haute Couture House and this second collection was very eagerly anticipated. I was very excited to see the work that was produced and found that under the guidance of the new artistic director Marco Zanini, Schiaparelli is taking some early exciting steps in giving the House a new brand identity while maintaining the spirit, ethos an style of Elsa. I have to say I love the Houses, new colour scheme. Going with it's shocking pink of the past and working it into the branding in a new fresh way it gels very well with my own sites colours :-), and I love what they're doing this collection from Marco really feels action packed with a young vibrant new energy and I think this is a great young (I'm going to say that as it's a new wave) House to get acquainted with.
So as you know I'm bursting with enthusiasm about where this House will go next and I'm pleased to say it was a really tough choice about which looks from the collection to pull out and talk to you about because as a whole the collection was so strong :-) yay!
Schiaparelli really is a House where fashion is to be played with an enjoyed and from the first look that came out you could see the fun-factor, always teamed together with a very sharp eye for style, cut and detail. There is a feel of the formal Haute Couture here but always you can see the sense of serious style and design within it.
I loved the first dress that came out in the collection, the pierced heart dress was very cute and I like to think of it as a falling in love dress.
Stephen Jones created the hats for this collection and above is the pointed Saint Sebastian hat with arrows inlaid. Looking slightly mysterious this look channels the 1930's and 1940's shapes from early in the era of Schiaparelli. Cut close to the figure and neatly belted at the waist this look has a simple clear impact factor about it. The fur stole wrapped about the shoulders with muff in hand protects the wearer against the chill seasonal winds with style. It's a very feminine look contrasting with the next look to the right, the women's trouser suit.
This look intrigues me from an historical perspective as I see a reflection of the Edwardian era when women's fashion took the very first step towards borrowing from men's clothes. I think it's the pussy-bow tie that does it sitting on top of the plain white shirt. In Edwardian times there was a type of wide trouser that women wore as fashion slowly started to liberate them and this would often be used for riding. Essentially this look gave me a flash-back to Downton Abbey and Lady Sibyl and also old photographs I've seen over the years. The chatelaine chain at the waist also echos the men's pocket watch and chain worn for generations. The next look to the right is pure girl. I can't decide if this is a look taken from the school room and re-worked into adult form or a more girly playful incarnation of the women's dresses and suits of the 1940's. The shoulder pads and buttoning give it a feel from that era and with the added detail of lace applique across the baby blush pink design a playful hint of the antique comes into being. Very cute and very fun.
The fun factor continues with the a very colourful re-working of the traditional styled jacket above to the left. Working together two different themes, animal print and a light blue jacket form with gilded over-lay. Teamed with dark magenta trousers and a fur bag this is an outfit to enjoy. Next to the right in yellow and black a very chic, perhaps with a little Chinese inspiration that would work well in a lot of wardrobes. This lake many pieces in the collection is a bold colour statement to brighten up the autumn evenings. Again a little fur keep the wearer extra warn against the chill wind of Paris or whatever city she is in. The next look in shocking pink -the house colour- is simple in it's colour scheme and dramatic in effect. With flowers at the waist and the shoulder, these soft touches balance the square angular form of the shoulders at the upper part of the dress. Next to the right I've enclosed two images of the same look to show how the coat is opened. I noticed last season that Schiaparelli 'show' the pieces in this traditional way that many Houses no longer do in their running order. I think it looks good and it a great help to the clients. I loved the pink that was used and the fun bomber jacket motif worked onto a formal Haute Couture jacket - always playful, always challenging.
More playful colour emerges with a very joyous orange fur coat and blue fur bag walking through the salon. Warm, fun and wearable, it's a fun piece to light up dull, dreary winter days with a tangy colour contrast. The fabric work in the next dress is captivating. I'm not sure which era this draws me to or what place on the globe but I feel it's got a coolly regal charm about it and looks magnificent.
With a slight hint of cinematic glamour the next look to the right also champions long-lines and adds a flourish a large bow at the shoulder of the dress. Gloves in a contrasting purple casually ruffled around the wrist add a nonchalance to the look. The closing look, traditionally the bridal look uses printed fabric in the Schiaparelli House style of birds. Quite symbolic if you're taking a next step but this piece could also be commissioned as a look for evening wear too.
Stephane is a masterful couturier and his work is always a joy to behold. He has his own fingerprint on a very modern version of Haute Couture and a strong international following.
His collections always embrace both high drama and high style that we associate with this part of the fashion industry and true to form he gave us something sharp and beautiful to admire this season.
The first dress to the left is a beautiful semi-sheer garment both revealing and concealing the figure. The wearer is enclosed in black hugging the upper part of her form closely. It's a look that has great presence and will make a strong statement when the wearer enters the room. The waist, and the ankles are cinched in with a simple gold band, giving a small break in the silhouette and creating a beautiful simple colour scheme.
Colour, zest and life burst into the collection with the next two looks capturing the warmth and life of fiery oranges, yellows and purples. These two looks are a great example of colour, fabric and tone contrasting. The upper part of the first dress to the left is part - sheer and part velvet black and veiled skin tone barely restrained by the golden circling tie descend into a fishtail skirt fashioned in white exploding into a profusion of colours. It's almost an evening dress for a modern mermaid. Next to it, looking slightly more formal is a floor length gown with both a black tulip shaped flower at the waist and a profusion of tulip-lie colours flowing down the skirt of the dress to the base. I love the water-colour painted effect in the soft splashes of colour.
Like a shining star Stephane Rolland's girl steps forward into the light and takes her place. I loved the use of the large stars around the skirt of the dress above and the one gold star at the front. She's confident and self-assured and almost on-point in her high heels. It is almost a ballet dancers pose. A great dress to wear for an event event through autumn and winter I notice even the bodice part of the dress is shaped quite like the crescent of the moon. It works beautifully with the natural curves of the models figure and it's a look that floats along behind the wearer.
Next bold splashes of colour return across the surface of the white dresses. Both of these dresses above combine both subtlty and drama in the splash and sweeps of colour that Stephane works across them. The first dress above to the left shows a golden stream of colour running across the body of the wearer from below the neckline to hem at the front of the dress. Across the lower curves of the hip the colours of the flower bloom outwards across the figure and culminate on a beautiful flower sitting off set and sweeping past the hip. The curve of the hem on the ground also reminds me of a flower petal. Next to the right, one of the best-known pieces from the collection. A vibrant display of colour culminating in a flurry design across the neckline sweeping past the shoulders. Like many looks here it's a maximum impact red carpet/reception style dress and I can see it being one that is readily ordered for the coming season. Next came a vibrant red-orange stunning gown, again surly to turn heads and light up a room or a party.
I enclosed a picture of Stephane himself in the salon where the collection was shown as like many designers he's shy and not that often seen. Next to the right is a brilliant (I mean both shining and perfect in it's form) dress playing with both bold colours and very contrasting textures. The upper part of the dress is a creation of beautiful metal work latticed across the figure and revealing the gentle curves of the female form beneath. Gold, the eternal metal plays a key part in emphasising the strength of the wearer's beauty. The dress descends across the hips in a flower-like form with petal shaped detail cocooning the hips in a vibrant contrast to the flame orange skirt below reaching to the floor with a train behind.
Next to the right, keeping it simple, the elongation of the woman's figure is emphasised by the by the long black silhouette emblazoned with gold from the collar, across the shoulders and down through to the split in the dress. Lastly a stunning ball gown, it wouldn't be Haute Couture week in Paris without showing large dresses from some of our favourite designers that will serve their clients well through the coming season and for many others.
Valentino took us into the Roman Garden this season and as a Classics student of the past I was very happy to be taken there. The first dress that came out in this collection was simply stunning. For me it's the perfect pay on the Romano-Greek theme and could be loved a long time in the wardrobe. Very pure beauty.
The collection from the due heading Valentino this season showed a strong floral element, taking it's inspiration from the ceramic paintings and wall paintings of flowers found in Roman Villa's across the Empire. I also noted that there was an echo of Roman era Egypt in this collection, I guess spotting it from my student days studying Roman and Egyptian art.
Black and white dominated as a two toned theme early in the collection and this gave Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli lots of scope to play with style and ideas. They produce broad collection where they produce broad collection where they like to explore each design idea through several permutations and see where it takes them. I like this and I think it's helpful to clients who may want to order around an idea rather than a set-piece. The detail in the above looks was fantastic and I especially liked the second look from the left, of black top and black and white skirt, my other favourite was the full length white dress furthest to the right. In flowing form it looked fit for an Empress or any roman girl to enjoy a stylish, very comfortable formal piece.
Another fun aspect to the designs was the use of banding wrapped around the waist in an re-working of the lacing of roman sandals around the calf of the leg towards the knee. It's a simple emblem that right away connects you to the style of the times.
Pier Paolo and Maria Grazia continued on the colour themes that Valentino have favoured for the last few seasons with soft blush reappearing alongside the House Valentino Rosa in the floor sweeping diaphanous gowns that are so loved by their clients. It's a theme that lends very well to the celebration of Rome and the city that gave life to the House. Mr. Valentino always emphasised the Houses routes and heritage in Rome, one of Italy's many fashion capitals. The forms are gentle and soft and for this season throughout the collection and goddesses walking in the grounds of the Foro Romano where all around.
The third look in from the left was one of my favourties of the entire collection. It's one of the most beautiful sheer dresses that I've ever seen come out from Valentino and it was an instant favourite. It's beautifully crafted using a simple structure of a traditional below knee-length dress and then creativity has taken over. Wrought in golden leaf-like structures across the dress the design reminds me of a statue or painting of a goddess celebrating fertility, quite familiar to the Romans this look would appear as young nymph. Next to her in contrast another gown, more robe-like in it's structure and emphasising purity in pristine white, a trace of the vestals perhaps but nevertheless and beautiful creation. Moving back to simple colour use the next two looks pare down the stylistic features and work with focusing the eye on structure and style. I particularly liked the smokey blue one-shoulder dress that looked so light and care-free. Simply tied at the waist it recalls to me the dresses worn by girls in Rome for many centuries.
The collection continues with a dress in beautiful deep green fitted closely at the upper part of the dress in an almost uniform way it then descends the figure to form individual panels of material cloaking the figure. The wearer's natural curves are emphasised as the sheer underlay of the dress is shown as she moves. Green was sometimes known as the colour of the lady and the earth goddess and here the goddess walks in the garden. Above to the center are two more wonderful flowing Romanesque dresses, in black and again in wonderful dark green. These are great dresses to wear through a long evening at an event or private party as the structure is light and comfortable as well as beautiful and well tailored. They are definitely looks that will show the figure at it's best.
Looking to the right above I've added two dresses that where looking in another direction. Textiles and their exploration are always important to many designers and here I found two pieces in the collection, the first especially, that really looked seriously at drawing on ancient tapestry's as a form of inspiration. Again using the teal-green present through the collection and weaving it together with golden themed threads this outfit is a highly creative composition that will appeal across the demographic of the Houses' clients. If you love history and Haute Couture, this would be a great look for you. The next dress to the right above and several of the ones below work with the theme of an intricate textile pattern woven around the figure. The bodice part of the dress is light showing the curves of the form with gold shining against the skin.
As always with Valentino this is certainly a 'feast for the eyes' collection. Several of the looks above continue to play on the theme of the goddess in the garden and/or the Roman girl at play or at a Party and sheer is the way forward in reminiscence of the light style of Roman clothing. In the first look above left, I was particularly captivated by the embroidery details. Following next a dress that plays with more structured lines again echoing faintly the forms of the Roman tunic worn by both men and women.
Each of the looks above is an iconic piece and I noticed that the models hair was also simply waved and tied back in a care-free style imitating that seen in statues.
The collection closes with a beautiful burst of colour in a House alternative to the traditional wedding dress. In a twist in the collection the design duo invoke a modern
Valentino's walk in gardens of Rome continued with the journey from Ancient into modern. The lose light blush coloured dress above was one of my favourites from the collection. With black binding weaving round the waist and lower bodice gives restraint to the design and neatly places emphasis on the curves. Looking to a more modern time the next two looks to the right in black and white both have echos of the 1960's and 1970's. The broad legged black pants are flattering and loose on the frame while the white tunic over it also could be worn as dress by itself and look absolutely stunning.
The two piece white suit is coolly elegant in it's composure and perfectly tailored for comfort. Modern goddesses for the garden, the city and beyond. In recent season's Valentino have enjoyed playing with block colour and simple shades, I see echos of medieval art and the paintings of Fra Angelico. The next look to the right is a soft blue that I think traces it's influences to the Church and to Rome, it rather makes sense as the city of the Vatican, sitting within the city of Rome looks after a vast amount of the worlds collective art history within it's walls. There's still also a Grecian feel running through these pieces as well and the last look above to the right in a simple earth toned, almost terracotta colour is stunningly beautiful in it's simplicity. The edging of the sleeves of the dress with gentle folds of material, do also look slightly angelic and gently curve around the figure. They are very harmonius creations.
Versace do high impact glamour in their own special way and it's Donatella's inimitable trademark that she shares with us each season in both her Ready to Wear and Haute Couture. This season Donatella was keen to talk about the technical developments that are being made in the fabrics and compositions that are coming from Atelier Versace. The lady herself spoke of being influenced by the Italian Haute Couture of the 1950's and you can see this here in the curve of shoulders in some of the jackets below.
Structure and form are important as the looks below show more than a passing reference to architectural styles and sculpted shaped.
Art Deco look for the show finale. Using colours reminiscent of Roman wall paintings and clothes this dress is a beautiful tapestry of ideas and symbols that made Rome.
The fur-lined runway was a purple carpet for her modern fashion queens to stride down. Bold and confident Donatella moved on from last season with a more tailored minimalist collection that was well received by the audience. This was a collection that spoke of discipline and control. The sexiness is there but this season there is an addition of some slightly more androgynous touches - only very slight but it's a harder type of femininity that comes across, and that's fine.
This is an ultra-modern collection, high luxury glamour stripped down to a framework of precision and clarity. The asymmetry that Donatella likes to play with was there in spades this season and metal work blended with fabric to create new shapes. The first look above to the left in black shows this combination of contrasts neatly to stunning effect. Iconic jewellery is actually worked into the dress it's self to form the central frame from the neck to the waist. The two beautiful deep blue outfits to the right above both play with form, style and texture to create dramatic effect. The blue dress in particular is quite an eye catching piece. Again working similar themes to the right above in black post-modern luxury takes a new twist with stunning creations that borrow a little from the old with plenty of the new.
But this wasn't a collection to leave Donatella's faithful audience all at sea. The traits she's admired for, the thigh-high splits and beautiful plunging necklines where all there. Another simple motif running through the collection was the little clasp. You can see it in many pieces holding together the dress, sometimes sitting across the shoulder or belting in the waist of a beautifully tailored suit as shown above to the right. It's a like a tiny symbol of restraint amongst all the carefree abandon. Things may look a little wild but really everything is under the control of Donatella's guiding hand.
Donatella and friends, images by kind permission of Versace.
The colour palette for this collection was relatively simple with steely midnight blue, black and white moving into vibrant purple as the collection progressed. The look above to the left was one of my favourite of the collection. With the Asymmetric design and the skirt slashed to the high leg, this was vintage Versace re-invented anew. Next to the left a re-worked form of the long-sleeved T-Shirt was re-made in high tech fibers and matched with flowing open full skirt. A pocket at the waist added a touch of nonchalance, as with the next dress and fibers flowed free to emphasise the form of style and craft.
Tassels also streamed from the next dress, that had a slightly more formal look to it. Again slashed up to the waist on the bias cut at the front of the dress this look added gloves to emphasise a use for evening wear and the white collar of the dress wrapping upwards from the cross-decolette band elongates the figure even further.
Versace for me this season did go the extra mile in looking at trying new things in it's technology and design.
I've included to the right my favourite look from the collection a dress combining the familiar Versace glamour themes with a renewed flare of Haute Couture. This dress does hearken to the golden age of Haute Couture in the 1950's and 1960's and has a life and exuberance that are unmistakably Versace.
It's in two of my favourite colours plus with accents of gold it's pure perfection. The model like most of her peers on that catwalk looks serious, beautiful but not forbidding.
To the right, Donatella herself, modest as always took applause after the show.
Karl Lagerfeld took us this season to a Parisian apartment with that had the distinct feel of Versailles grandeur and with a 20th century spin the stylish mores of Le Corbusier. So what did we find when we entered this home? Something quite unexpected and at the same time utterly irresistible was the answer with the audience quietly enraptured.
As he does each season Karl Lagerfeld managed to pull something out of the hat that felt both fresh and new but was still also very recognisably CHANEL and would delight the faithful followers of the Maison. This can't be easy but he always manages to do it. In an apartment scene that looked like somewhere that a modern French Royal family might live the pieces came out one by one that effortlessly made their way onto wish lists. High round collar added a new twist to jackets as seen in four of the looks above while the bold move to include a central woven tweed panel on the front of jackets felt instinctively right with matching detail appearing at the cuffs to accent the look.
Colour and tone where clear as always and this was a collection that had the strong defined feel that Autumn lines often have. Pretty ribbon tied luxury flip-flops add a light touch of chic to the looks in CHANEL black syncing colour in harmony with House themes. Within the parameters of the collection themes you can quickly see how much room for play Karl Lagerfeld has found. Clients have a world of choice within this collection.
House classic tweed is combined with organza, tulle and chiffons with sculpted right angle shoulders and rounded core shapes sitting within the framework of cages over which the fabric is draped. In this collection Karl has created what he calls 'seemless Haute Couture' where pieces are created from one continuing piece of material cut on the bias. Karl combined these classic materials with new surprise elements such as concrete incredibly to give an added strength and resilience to fabrics and echoing the strength of the founder of the House Gabrielle CHANEL herself. I think this bold innovative step is something that she would have approved of wholeheartedly.
Above to the left fur trim perfectly accents the coat and bringing a touch of Russian chic to Paris that Gabrielle herself knew very well through her friendships with Russian emigres from Royalty to artists and dancers. several outfits in this part of the collection are accessorised with over the shoulder satchels in matching fabrics creating an Haute Couture 'Total Look' that is a feast for the eyes. The Frock Coats is re-born in a feminine style with the suit above centre and here you can see the cycling shorts a la francais that CHANEL have brought into the collection. A new thing for Haute Couture and cleverly offsetting the chill of winter by adding an underlayer of the outfit to counterbalance the shorter lengths.
The look above to the right with intricate gold brocade embroidered in the atelier with the most beautiful designs is an Haute Coutre masterpiece. The gold and black two colour pairing allow the eye to appreciate more of the beauty of the embroidery work while the gold buttons of the jacket also appear above the knee at the side of shorts Knickerbocker style.
Jackets where fascinated by metal or concrete buttons or by staples bringing the industrial approach to fashion into a lateral form in a playful juxtaposition to the definition of Haute Couture which is the hand made craft of the atelier. The two pieces to the left above show the bold weave textile expression descending to the knee or in longer line. The cool black, white and grey in the earlier part of the collection slowly builds into a crescendo of colour with the rich reds and flame-orange of the apartment fire brought to life in the clothes with jewelled metalwork in the belt and embroidered onto the bag and dress.
Centre above the scarlet dress uses the cage form that CHANEL have talked about balancing this with grey ribbon flip flops it echos the frames of dresses of centuries past in it's style. The warmth of the fire is contrasted by the cool tones of ice blues and greys of the cooler winter landscape. To the right the jewelled blue dress with long line fur gloves is a twinkling colour play in a look that is ravishing for the evening or day. To the far right the grey dress typifies the use of concrete inlaid and woven like a mesh into the fabric of the dress. Long lines looking sleek an elegant with metallic jewelled embroidery.
The shorter dresses sitting just above the knee with the cycling shorts below take a variety of different forms with the first look above to the left channeling the lines of the classic CHANEL jacket with a beautiful embroidered chain mail jacket sitting over the dress. Matched with pretty grey ribboned flipflops it shows superbly how Karl is creating modern classic looks again and again from the genesis that is CHANEL.
The Maison also cited clouds as a partial influence that can be seen in the feather light skirt next to it with tantalising feather light grays and seeming to float in the fabric of the look next to it above. To the right a long line dress incorporates embroidery in a the body of the dress tipped with feathers at either end for a light brush of glamour. Many of these pieces capture a modern sense of regality in their essence showing the enduring power of CHANEL.
Twinkling in front of the eyes of the audience many looks that featured later in the collection as it moved on grew increasingly elaborate in the form the embroidery that they incorporated true to the expectations clients have of CHANEL being able to provide them with the highest of Haute Couture. The metallic masterpiece to the left set hearts racing as a perfect party piece that will make the right statement whether worn in front of the cameras or at a private event away from the eyes of the world.
Silver leads for the the eternal lustre of Gold in this collection with the beautiful combination of white dresses being inlaid with gold embroidery and jewelled applique bringing the most luxuriant tapestry imaginable to the surface of these wonderfully contemporary dresses. You can see the strong imprint of Versailles echos on the later part of this collection with the tailoring the knee length dresses echoing the frock coats of the past with elements of both male and female fashion re-awakened for the 21st century. As with any Haute Couture collection we look and we dream and we see the beauty and detail of Karl's vision. Haute Couture fascinates the world far beyond it's exclusive client base because the dedication to craft, the expertise of the atelier and the influence that Haute Couture has on the wider fashion world is palpable in our day to day lives.
Empire line dresses swept the room as the models essayed through the salon infront of the large (perhaps magic mirror) that was set in the apartment set and as a reflection of contemporary fashion in the mid 2010's pushing the boundaries of fashion further while still retaining so many elements that make it true to the vision of Gabrielle CHANEL it really couldn't be more perfect. With faces present such as Alice Dellal, Kristen Stewart, Lily Collins and Dakota Johnson also with film Director Baz Lurman on hand the scene was set for beautiful show. As Karl and his bride walked at the close of the show they where greeted with great applause from many people who instantly felt drawn to the new insights direction that Karl has taken with this collection.