A Blush of Rose
Haute Couture for Autumn-Winter 2015-16
All below images with permission of the respective Houses.
Valentino - at home in Rome
While the world of Haute Couture that we know today revolves around Paris, further back in history Italy was also a hub of Fashion trendsetting. I felt a happy glow when I heard that Valentino where due to show their Haute Couture for Autumn-Winter 2015-16 in their home city of Rome. As a Classical Studies grad' I know that the understanding of beauty and style runs very deep in Italian Culture and Alta Moda is their ultimate expression of beautiful design.
Alongside the Haute Couture presentation Valentino also displayed an array of Haute Couture from previous seasons at the 'Mirabilia Romae'. Below to the left is one of my favourite ever shots of a room filled with Haute Couture. The Bagno di Diana. I can't think of anything more heavenly to celebrate the beauty of women and high fashion in Rome. I found that the beautiful decor of this room of the palace didn't out-shine the clothes, it simply served to amplify it. Perfect harmony.
Electric hot chic with a twist of punk thrown in. That's how I would describe this collection in one sentence but I'd much rather take my my time and talk about it in more detail. This collection is like a fascinating bolt of energy to inject into your wardrobe for the coming season and for the legions of Armani fans across the world it will be another collection that has produced a vast number of pieces that seem like the essential that you where always meant to have.
To the right above these four dresses where part of a large display of Valentino's Haute Couture stretching through the length of the Biblioteca Casanatense. What a prefect study of Fashion? The hushed quiet of the library is a dramatic juxtaposition to the bustle of the shows but after the fanfare dies down all dresses and garments from the Atelier at Valentino spread out across the world to begin their own lives, often away from the public eye, so this quiet corner of contemplation for style is in many ways very apt. There's also something about floor length gowns in historical settings that always look just right.
Two beautiful gowns to linger over are shown above and to the far right in the Galliera del Primaticcio. In a mersmerising weave of patterns that interlock and interlacing shapes these looks dazzle in the clear precision of the design but never become over powering and never detract from the beauty of the wearer. They're modern classics in my book and for me exemplify why Haute Couture is also a form of art as well as fashion. Mirrors in Palazzo's are always a fantastic thing and this set amplifies the light and design in a perfect way.
In the we see the artisan's studio with a work bench of art implements, an easel, painting coat conjouring the image of the designer at work. It all starts here with the ideas. IMvHO this is a creative industry and you need to be a creative at heart to have a place in it and belong there. Fashion, the design process, the show, the business and industry world wide. It all starts with the ideas. This dress design with a light upper bodice and long flowing skirts in the naive style of brush paint exemplify how Haute Couture can reach across many different forms of art and speak to it's Global audience. You can see a train flowing out behind the dress stretching into the background of the room and it's easy to see this dress playing out it's role on the broader stage of public or private events.
There can be few things more fun than walking into an open attic space and seeing Haute Couture laid out before you in every direction. This was what greeted visitors to the Magazzini Teatro del Opera in Rome. The mannequin's are laid out around the room walking on a beautiful carpet of set designs from Opera productions. Can you actually imagine anything more amazing? You are brought face to face with two fantastic form of art at the same time and it's a feast for the senses.
The myriad of pieces cross several collections and centre above is one of my favourite looks so far under the headship of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli. This dress composed of staves of music swirling around the woman's figure is absolutely sensational. It's what we dream of when we think of haute couture. Light in structure, delicate and intricate to the most minute detail. The translucence of the dress captures the mood of light music floating through the air perfectly. It's a fantastic tableau of Valentio celebrating both the past and the present.
The beautiful bracelet with the Lion's head recalls the simple Roman jewellery techniques of the past and shows very fittingly that some style doesn't age and can fit straight into our lives today. The next look to the right is a stunning design with jacquard style checks flowing in a clever design from a slender strapped asymmetric look circled with a golden belt. It's a heavenly look and maybe one that could inspire some bridal ideas when in white.
The next look is a beautiful vision of Romanesque elegance. With alternating sheer and opaque fabrics referencing the late Roman Hellenistic era when Egyptian, Greek and Roman style melted together beautifully this piece is slightly more formal in it's mood and it matched with the most fascinating parure of Golden jewellery. Nature of symbols of earth combine with elements of the heavens to give a suite of enchantment. To the right above shorter dress gives a sexy spin on the traditional outfit worn by the Gladiatorix who like her male counterparts was fleet of foot in the arena. This will turn heads at parties this season.
The collection opened with a strong statement look from the Imperial past of Rome - the Black Roman Eagle. Centuries later adopted by many families as a heraldry device this Imperial badge of strength strode forth down the catwalk. The former symbol of (male) imperial might looked perfect on the beautiful woman wearing it and frankly Rome did supply a long list of very strong women during it's historic era of international power. The Eagles head sits across the heart and the centre of the outfit, wings span across the decollete to the shoulders with feathers trailing across the shoulders. It's a genius design bringing natural elements into the design in a perfect harmony. A simple band of imperial red - now Valentino Rossi defines the waist. Three cherubs hang from the neck of the model in a beautiful piece of metal work and in another nod to the ancient historic era the hair is adorned beautifully with gold jewellery accentuating the woman's adornment.
Working around Black as colour theme in the early part of the collection the design duo found endless amounts of scope to play out their ideas. Next to the right the traditional Roman Diadem makes an appearance crowning a long sleeved simply detailed dress with the broad bandeau waist. The elliptical waist band returns again in the next look with an asymmetric off the shoulder dress descending into a diaphanous full skirt. Classically stunning. Next to the right a military style jacket sits lightly on the hips teamed up with a flowing sheer skirt decorated in the most beautiful applique. Light as a feather there's the graceful movement that you would expect in this piece and a statement necklace seals the look of quiet drama. Holding centre stage the look above to the right has strength but isn't too serious or overpowering in it's composure. Almost matriarchal and majestic while capturing the essence of Rome's strength it's still a very sexy piece and not somber in the slightest.
And they just kept coming, one after the other, floor length glamour that swept the eye away. For me this evokes both the reality and splendour known by the women in the patrician senatorial families in Rome and later their counterparts across the Empire and also the contemporary world of Haute Couture. Haute Couture today serves the most diaphanous clientele imaginable; from the high profile names that tread the Red carpet to the private clients who will wear these outfits for dinners and parties away from the spotlight. There is another audience too for Haute Couture, the art lovers and students throughout the world who follow this vein of the fashion industry with a fascination of the techniques and love of the creativity.
Haute Couture is a key part of our collective fashion heritage. Light wispy black sheer pieces gave way to strong looks in Valentino Rossi. Again the Imperial echo of the Asymmetric dress returned above accessorised perfectly with gold. Hair in much of the collection was swept half-up in a demure simplified elegant arrangement which is one of my favourites through the working week. To the right above, what I would call a Roman collar (not the technical term I know) graced the upper part of the dress giving form and structure with the golden circle of the belt framing the figure as the skirt of the dress descends.
In the new ear of Valentino it's been great to see the way that Maria and Pierpaolo have stamped their own identity onto the House and the first two looks to the left above illustrate one of their design theme, working neatly with tessellated patterns. The natural muted tones reflect the original palette available to ancient artists and the autumnal shades of moss green, deep berry, and silver cut into squares and rounded form create stunning geometric patterns emulating the mosaics of the past. These looks are strongly contemporary and with their dynastic sense of majesty are also perfect for the hear and now. Red carpet, private party or private view they are looks to treasure.
Centre above two looks that work in the natural symbols of leaves and flowers are reminiscent of traditional Roman artworks and renaissance style. Again the models heads are crowned with golden diadem's or circlates in a delicate emphasis of beauty. The makeup for this collection was light and natural with an air of innocence and strength. To the far right is a dress that for me takes a cue from the ancient relationship between Rome and Egypt with gold strips of fabric in the skirt of the dress and plated bodice echoing both the dress of Roman military leaders and Egyptian Warrior kings. On a woman it's beautiful and transforms the wearer into a goddess.
Above the floor length broad skirted dress in gold is an outfit fit for a goddess yet somehow not overstated the gold shimmers in a delicate light of it's own. There's a soft angelicism about it. A layered underskirt gives width and if you're going to be outside during a late/overnight ball then this will also keep you suitably warm. Gentle leaf details also cloak the dress in nature and evoke the Roman love of harmony and nature. Following on, a series of looks that will have clients rushing to make orders. All in the new classic House style these pieces are the Haute Couture staples that Valentino's clients have come to rely upon to suit their wardrobe requirements and within the sphere of this season's chosen theme of celebrating the Eternal City there is a lot of scope for choice. The two looks furthest to the left demonstrate the most clearly how the style of Rome translates easily and quickly to contemporary Haute Couture. Women have always known what will make them beautiful.
Below Valentino's design duo take their applause after the show and finally the Studiolo di Ferdinando hosts three beautiful creations that I've covered here in previous seasons and to the right, with one of the best views in Rome the mannequin has an Empresses view of the Sagrestia Campinale.
The collection opened with the brightest of magenta pinks that twinned with black in plays on the traditional trouser suit. These are versatile looks that will work for drinks, dinners, black tie and red carpet. They could also be worn to corporate events as well which will delight a raft of female executives around the world. A peplum waist-detailed jacket in the first look gave way to more traditional gender neutral tailoring. Whichever style takes your fancy, and you might well fancy both, these are modern classic pieces that you can cherish through several seasons should you wish. Blocks of colour translated into a fascinating multi-layered and multi-faceted design print in the next two looks used once in the suit jacket and once int he skirt. Both looks are stunning and it's always interesting to see a bit of Bohemia on the Haute Couture catwalk.
The mood lighting changed from pink into and electric blue and the collection continued to provide some focused answers to style needs for the upcoming season. Using two different fabrics and also sometimes two different colours above and below the knee in trousers was a favourite theme of the collection and it gives a great new twist to the women's Haute Couture trouser suit. To the far right colour pops into this suit for a dynamic twist. It's a really great look and teamed up with the bold colour necklace it males a sleek and subtle colour statement for the coming season. Sharp tailoring makes for delicate soft lines.
The Neon palette will win a lot of hearts as it's also pretty delicate and has the kick of disco energy about it which is great when the nights get darker and cooler. Armani brought out high energy looks for enjoyment and pleasure and the two trouser and jacket/top looks above to the left are great night on the town pieces. Centre above are two stunning dresses that would look great in any party girls wardrobe in any city of the world. True to Armani's cosmopolitan heritage and identity you could party in a country house in France or at a Ball in Brazil and whirl the night away.
It's interesting to note again the play with fabric and texture that comes into being here. Both dresses use the same dynamic colours but with a different feel and both also team the looks up with the chic cigarette line velvet trousers underneath. It's a chic twist and frankly pretty practical in the colder months also. Those walks on the terrace at parties in the winter need not be a snatched moment with a few extra layers to support you.
The next two dresses combine luxe glamour with long fluid lines in a pairing that make a slightly more subtle, demure statement. Colour plays an important role here in a more muted way perhaps evoking the colours of sunset in the cooler winter months Texture is also key in these outfits with smooths and raised applique design coming to produce a combination sensation for the wearer. It's also another collection with what I term strong 'Multi-generational' appeal. There are many looks that will satisfy clients who are 18 or 80, particularly the two on either end of this range above.
The permutations on offer in this part of the collection are fantastic and many of the dresses will leave you to literally shimmer into the room in quite a magical way. Many of the looks towards the later stages of the collection are also off the shoulder and begin with a comfortably fitted bodice. This leaves ample room to experiment with luxuriant warm winter wraps and coats velvet's, and if it's your fancy, fur in either black or white (ermine or minks for fur) would work especially well with these looks.
I look at these dresses and can see them both at grand black or white tie events and then also on the floor of the discotheque too. You can really party in them and have fun. There's a world of choice of accessories to match them with also beyond the excellent in-house selection created by Armani themselves. Black clutch combos would work amazingly well with these pieces.
For me this collection with both demure and sophisticated as well as being young and playful. There's a wardrobe full of choices to enjoy for the coming Autumn and Winter season.Whether you chose feathers or sequins; velvet or silk; dresses or trouser suit it's a collection covering all the essential bases for a winning Haute Couture formula without feeling traditional or stayed in any way. Whether your rocking the dancefloor in New York or at a Private party/dinner or date night Armani have created an Haute Couture collection this season that will give clients plenty of options to suit their needs and offer many pieces to be treasured into the future.
As the collection moved towards a slightly more formal style of evening wear there where many looks to capture the attention of press, buyers and clients and these looks above will support the wardrobes of women who need Haute Couture to hand that looks contemporary and relevant and has a discernible character and charm about it. The jacket and skirt combination to the left blends fabrics and texture once again to create a unique look while next to it a faint touch burlesque sexy glamour comes into frame in the bodice of the outfit. Wonderful. Full skirted floor length evening dresses are a mainstay of this collection and frankly it is what a lot of women need in the Autumn-Winter season. The vibrant energy in these pieces is infectious and it's a collection that's easy to fall in love with.
Raf Simmons has brought his own stamp to Dior in a new era of design and is taking the House forward to some very exciting places. His Haute Couture offering for Autumn-Winter 2015-16 shone a torchlight on the many ways that delicacy can be brought into the Autumn-Winter wardrobe and in step with the current trend that several designers have embraced that whites and pastels are only for the Spring/Summer months.
The collection opened with a beautiful, diaphanous sheer white gown floating around the figure giving gentle emphasis to line and form as the model walked. It's a very flattering piece with excellent opportunity to make an entrance at an event should you wish to. Detail at the collar and sleeve cuffs give a subtle style statement and this harmonious piece could be accessorised with ease or left as it is in simple elegance. Ethereal and serene it was a strong opening piece of the collection. To the left another fairytale dress is matched with a beautiful salmon coat demonstrating how interplay with textiles, fur and fabrics can combine to make a stunning garment that true to Haute Couture has a unique feel to it.
Almost bridal in it's theme the look centre above in off the shoulder style is another easy glamour piece. Sheer and dream like in it's lightness this ultra-feminine piece is romantic at it's heart. The freedom and grace in it's movement expresses an easy manner of couture and the necklace falling across the figure in a chain drop echoing ancient chatelaine chains worn by women in past centuries shows how this figure is quietly powerful. Next to the right a beautiful mini party dress will add a touch of magic to any event you attend in the party season and the beautifully embroidered bodice sits as a perfect accompaniment to the light satin chiffon of the skirt and sleeves.
To the far right a light black dress sits beneath a coat that I is firmly on my wish list. Here Raf is using the interplay of two different fabrics once again within a piece. As with the preceding dress he has combined a beautiful light pastel chiffon with a patterned textile feature. It's stunning and you could wear this look to many events or weave into your daily life.
Dior has long been known for it's re-creation of the traditional men's tailored jacket to be worn by women with trousers; taking it's cue from former Dior Protégé YSL, and also in combination with skirts and dresses in the line of the Bar and New Look styles.
The black jacket to the left with it's wide lower sleeves and tailored waist sits in classical alignment with the cigarette trousers with floor skimming length. This outfit has the effect of being stunning in its simplicity and focus.
Long lines feature again in the looks either side of this space with long white floor skimming skirts emphasising beauty, grace and style (yep my themes). Note again the play with contrast as the bodices fit close to the figure in an echo of chain-mail form. These are stunning warrior goddesses that are taking to the catwalk and striding out in style.
Deep navy blue is a great colour for most women to wear in the autumn-winter season and the coat above to the right is a luxuriant, comfortable piece that is exactly what many of us dream about wearing. It will keep you warm and is also a style to cherish. With a nod to the contemporary Raf brings this style into the sphere of arts by creating an asymmetrical piece that combines different fabric finishes. In fact this is actually a piece that contains clear contrast, a cutaway sleeve on one side sits opposite a wide sleeve piece on the other arm. Length of hem grows as the piece moves around the figure and the collar is a juxtaposition contrast from one side to the other.
Below to the left is another coat in the same deep mesmerising navy blue that sits open to the waist. It's stunningly beautiful and the broad leg trousers underneath create a top-notch high glamour composition that both thrills the eye and is light and comfortable for the wearer. Nipped in at the waist to show the beauty of the figure it also has the essential elements of practicality the traditional Haute Couture has always been renown for in the deep pockets. Neat openings at the top of the shoulder allow for flexibility of movement in the peace and add to the natural rhythm of movement of the wearer.
One of my favourite looks from earlier in the collection is varied with long sleeves being cut open to the elbow and jacquard style chain embroidered detail across the bodice of the dress. It's a stunning piece that will look good in front of the camera at events or make you feel even more special at private engagements through the Autumn-Winter season. The diamond Netting mesh that appears in this look and across the next two serves to give emphasis to the strength of the girl, the woman in the dress, cloaking her in a perfect sheath. There's a suggestion of a young woman going into battle and the two dresses centre above focus on creation of a look in one colour with the soft fabrics gently contained - but only ever so slightly - by the metal formed overlay.
I see freedom and strength all through this collection in a true successor to the Bar and New Look.
The sweeping black gown-coat to the right above contains the different elements again referencing different aspects of style. With the traditional winter furr muff adapted to become a sleeve and more fur at the collar this piece will keep the wearer warm. With the cut away sleeve on the other side of the jacket the muff option is still there in this look.
The next dress above to the right lays with autumn-berry and corn themes hues, open to the neck and at the side slashed to the waist it's a statement piece to wear at parties through the Autumn and winter seasons. Hair was kept natural an almost undressed in this collection with a simple emphasis on a healthy look of flowing tresses. Makeup was light and natural again serving to emphasis the natural features and beauty of the wearer.
Dior, presented several alternatives for their dresses that could potentially be bridal but would also serve as evening wear pieces. This is an interesting trend in the Haute Couture and bridal fashion that there is a movement in the direction of dresses that can potentially be worn for both occasions.
To the left the broad skirted pieces references the traditional Dior Aesthetic whilst also showing the artistry of the Atelier to perfection in the applique detail. Les Etoiles cover the dress in a beautiful stella tapestry. To the right a full skirted, dropped waisted dress sweeps the floor. Sleeveless and with a neat modern aesthetic this piece looks every inch the contemporary Haute Couture occassion or bridal piece that will delight many clients.
Raf Simmons continues to surprise and delight us in his tenure at Dior and what we can expect I feel is more experimentation and pushing forward into the future with the best of the past incorporated into his collections without leaving behind his curiosity for the new manifestations of Dior style.
Schiaparelli, one of the most influential fashion Houses of the 20th century came back with a bang in September 2013, much to the delight to the fashion world. At at time when the tide was turning for the better (in the way I had predicted) in the world of Haute Couture it was a perfect moment to re-launch a House with it's own strong character - unconventional and independant - to be part of the burgeoning re-growth of this part of the Fashion industry.
For Autumn Winter 2015-16 the Schiaparelli atelier brought us a cosmopolitan mixture of design that took us on an international tour of inspiration through the four fashion capitals that lead the fashion world. From the Direction of Bertrand Guyon came a series of looks that both references Elsa founding beliefs in colour, form and shape and also provide very relevant fashion for clients needs of the 21st century. Schiaparelli is a serious fully functioning fashion house now thriving and winning notable commissions. Latest admirers include Anne Hathaway and Sabine Getty.
The collection opened with echos of China in the first look with an elaborately embroidered sheer sleeved jacket pairing with chic cigarette line trousers. In a classic Schiaparelli design twist the sides seams are at the front in one of those innovations that just somehow looks right. The next look to the right adds a little whimsy as a lucky protective eye watches over the wearer from her shoulder while stars of the night adorn the decollete of the dress. This deep rich velvet is a satisfyingly luxuriant gown to wear for the winter season. Classically cut with a 1950's feel to it is shows how Elsa's spirit of creativity can bring so much to a piece or a look.
The stunning dress and coat in red with it's deep pockets has echos of the 18th and 19th century game keepers coats from Britain. Add the bold colour and stunning fabric detail teamed up with a classic flowing velvet dress underneath and you have knockout statement look for autumn. A touch of Art Deco and Chinoiserie return on the next look as the men's trouser suit translates effortlessly onto the female figure. In a vibrant colour burst the monotone black and red are broken up by vibrant yellow, soft rose and magenta pink arriving in a shirt, trouser and coat combination. The sleek lines of the trousers and blouse are set in juxtaposition to the multi textured coat that literally has life burst from it in a 3D textile quality. All very much in keeping with the Elsa'a humour and vitality that she injected in her approach to fashion.
Continuing on with a Bohemian twist the dress above to the left shows deftly how the precision of Haute Couture can transform a classic look - the black knee-length evening dress into a masterpiece that is both fashion and art. Many of us would love to wear a piece in the party season with these details and the styles don't date. They can be loved from season to the next. Tweed and Scotland's textiles where two key influences throughout Elsa's design career and like many designers in Paris over many generations she had tremendous respect for the fabrics that where produced there. The two looks above to the left use differing weaves and adopt the fringe and non-fringed tartan cloth. First a 'total look' is accented by the bold magenta at collar and cuff and the fur trim gillet gives a nod to the wraps often worn by Elsa and her friends. In a more classic composition a white shirt and blue skirt match with a sleeveless tartan cape giving a Scottish school mistress style snap to your outfit.
The collection moved through many moods and some where less convention reflection Elsa's desire to bring chaos to fashion , to question, change track and change moods. Next up above a modern mermaid outfit with scales replicated in the in the fabric of the dress and shimmering light echoing the play of sunlight in water. The jacket features intricate embroidery and the Cypher of Elsa leaves a mark on the piece, it's easy to look at it and think yes, why not, I will wear that to the such and such premiere or so and so's birthday party. These are outfits to be lived in and enjoy. To the right a look of contrasts with a sheer blouse coordinating with 18th century style trousers borrowed from the men's wardrobe. Fantastically topped with a multi-coloured jacket blending fabric and colour in bold Schiaparelli style it's a hallmark piece of the collection.
One of the great things I love about Schiaparelli's collections is that they photograph their pieces from the front and the back. It may seem like a simple detail but it's vital for buyers and potential clients and allows us editors to illustrate the clothes to you in a much better way.
There two dresses either side are gems from a beautiful garden of Bohemia. Flowing broad and trailing long they echo the current trend in bringing florals and light colours into the autumn and winter collections and not purely reserving them for Spring and Summer seasons.
These two looks both capture the full elegance of Haute Couture that displays the highest techniques of the petites mains. Full flowing skirts make the ultimate statement of beauty swishing and lightly skimming the floor as they pass the audience.
Above to the left is a fantastic look embodying Elsa's love of gender interplay in design. A dress with a feminine collar sits on top of masculine trousers with sheer sleeves highlighting the gamine slender figure beneath. With the matching magenta shoes at the base this look is a melding of old and new whipped into a chic must-have for the 21st century. You can take a look like this to so many places. Next to the right a piece screaming FUN sees a five of hearts jackets in the modern Bohemian style twinned with a skirt channeling the textiles and design of the 18th century. As Elsa always new when you fuse two different worlds together you great a great burst of energy.
Next looking understated and regal the embroidery and cut of this ivory dress to all the talking that is required. Sitting neatly on the figure and with gentle attention to detail on the shoulders it's restrained, demure and splendid in an echo of Elsa's vision. The golden girl striding forth in the next shot makes a strong statement of power like a modern day goddess. Both the jacket and shirt of her suit are open to the waist echoing men's style and detail in the embroidery of these pieces is absolutely stunning. You know looking at many of these pieces why Haute Couture is regarded as art by many. Long, sheer and sexy the black dress to the right is a fantastic sweeping dress that will look great on the red carpet like the preceding suit and make an impact wherever it's worn.
Furthest to the right this smart look would work well as a black tie piece like many of the others in this collection. It's a great piece of eveningwear in the hinterland between suit and dress. Working in black and white it plays with two of the key colours of Elsa's original palette.
Below the theatre, such an important part of Elsa's ethos, is represented in the print of the dress. Working in her signature colours that I also share on this site Schiaparelli create a light evening dress with jacket gently resting on the shoulders in the manner of a cape. This is a look of maximum glamour and as with all the models wearing Schiaparelli looks you have the strong sense of 'The Lady' here. This is strong grownup style in all it's best form. The imagery of the sun and moon is embedded onto the jacket thus making a celestial connection with the divine. In full gold the next dress is making a goddess statement and shades of Imperial Napoleonic era fashion meet with the 1930's and 1940's silver screen legends the Elsa knew and dressed.
To close my look at this collection are two pieces in Elsa's signature colours Magenta and Black. These are two colours that are strong and beautiful. There are always plenty of clients looking for full dresses for evenings and occasions each season and these two hit the mark for high impact glamour that is modest and contained in it's beauty. These looks don't shout for attention but quietly command it with grace and without effort. They are works of art, things of beauty. Each carries the potential to live in an Haute Couture collection for many years.
Ralph & Russo
For classic Haute Couture made with traditional principles and a keen awareness of what clients want and need in the fast pace of the 21st Century Ralph and Russo are the 'Go To' House for a broad cross section of women with an eye for the highest standards of craftsmanship. With key markets established on every continent Ralph & Russo have cemented their place amongst the Fashion elite as they produce garments that are so much in demand from women across the globe. To see their works close at hand is a great privilege and also a great fashion education in its self. With a thriving Atelier in London and new offices based in Park Street in Mayfair, their growth looks ever set to continue.
For Autumn-Winter 2015-16 Ralph and Russo launched a collection that displayed the feminine glamour and charm that they are widely lauded for. The opening look of the collection championed the strength of the craftsmanship and skill of the Atelier that the House insists upon as amongst it's most basic principles. The Model strode out in the opening look of the collection in a piece embroidered to the highest degree of taste and precision in a tour de force of style that wove a hypnotic spell on the audience. One of the reference points for Ralph & Russo in this collection was the eggs of Fabergé and in several places in this collection you can see the influence of the circular interlaced designs that lend themselves so well to inspire Haute Couture.
Above to the left the second look is a variation on what is becoming one of the House signature styles of a short jacket featuring intricate embroidery and reaching to the elbow sitting over a long skirt generously framing the figure. You can also see this style theme in the second look from the right above which was piece 5 of the collection. The two different skirts here offer a fairy-tale contrast of simple length or a cascade of harmonious ruffles.
Centre above the mini length dress flows with a profusion of petals surrounding the wearer. This is a great piece to do go out and dance in as well as wear for formal occasions. Like all of the pieces in the collection it translates well through many different age groups of clients. Above to the right is a great look that hugs the figure like the softest glove. This hugely versatile piece could be worn with a jacket or wrap or looks equally fantastic by itself.
A stunning series of dresses came out in Antique Rose with a beautiful cinematic quality about them. It would challenge the hardest of hearts not to fall in love with something here. Above to the left the traditional ball gown gets a classic re-working with a raised front hem allowing you to show some very flattering ankle lengths. The puffball skirt is re-invented descending from a low waist line on the hip to the back of the ankles. It's a fantastic design that will suit most figures and work wonders at traditional balls in the winter season.
This and the contrasting nude-look dress next to it would be my personal picks of the collection. This piece is a real fantasy adventure dress. Vines and flowers climb elegantly across the body of the dress in an ode to nature. A lace outer layer of the skirt adds a floating layer of mystery and captures the gaze of the eye in a moment of romance. Centre above, sleek and chic this look uses draping to clever effect to create a bold statements that is tremendously flattering to the wearer. It could be worn to a wide variety of occasions like many pieces in this collection but for me it looks like a great piece for the red carpet.
The next dress has a built in wrap as part of it's design allowing more modest coverage for those who prefer this and also showing the plentiful creative expertise at the fingertips of the Maison. To the right a beautiful piece that plays with the scrolling, flower petal design that has been developed by Ralph and Russo in the past. The heavily embroidered fabric trails down across the figure to the floor providing an exceptional look for parties, black and white events and again red carpet events for people in the public eye. Like many of these pieces produced by Ralph and Russo it does capture a timeless quality to it.
Ralph & Russo have defined and mastered their own style of large sweeping gowns that have a beautiful train as part of their skirts. This is the grandest form of Haute Couture that is suitable for the greatest of formal occasions. The two dresses above to the left have the adaptability to become bridal pieces as well as black tie/ white tie reception looks. The applique and embroidery detail in both looks is captivating with finishing to the highest of standards to please a global client pool who expect nothing else. Symmetry and harmony have a discernible importance in the looks from Ralph & Russo's collections and this presentation of balanced order creates the clarity that strikes the eye and captures the attention of Ralph & Russo's clients and admirers.
Following a night time theme the next looks in midnight and navy blue are as equally fascinating as they are contrasting. The scintillating shimmer of the next piece to the right descends from a smooth upper bodice to stripped layers in the flowing skirt that appeared as a popular theme this season in several Houses. It's a light piece that will ensure you keep cool at a busy winter season party. Next a deep cut velvet bodice sits above a skirt embellished with polished glass circles woven together almost in a chain-mail form. It's a cool sophisticated look that could be matched with a jacket of stole or left happily as it is. To the far right a floor length coat dress gives maximum impact again in shimmering dark navy reminiscent of the night sky. The abundant embroidery floral motif's seem to grow their way across the surface of the garment and like with so many of the pieces of this collection it appears to have life within itself.
One of the features of Ralph & Russo's collections are that they generally work in single colours as they by and large are creating 1 piece outfits. I think it's a recipe that works very well with their focus on high atelier artistry as they eye is drawn to the detail of the dress as much as the wearer in it and with level of creative excellence in each piece there is plenty to keep you attention engaged. I can speak for having seen their dresses close up in person and they are an absolute joy to behold. Moving into black the first look to the left contains the swirling ruffles that we have seen in earlier collections. This look and the next have a slight touch of the Gothic about them but it's luxuriant and seductive rather than mawkish and morbid and the second look from the left is a gypsy-esque layered skirt style is an absolute stunner.
The next two looks in a platinum-champagne fabric are tonal Autumn-Winter pieces. covered in the complex seasonal embroidered design the floral imagery captures the essential beauty of the woman's figure. It's an absolute delight to behold. The diamond shape embroidered design from earlier collection appears once again to great effect and brings back the idea of the similarity to the Armour worn in battle - here is a woman's symble of strength.
Swirling round the figure and split to the thigh, the next two looks in olive and teal green show how beautiful Haute Couture doesn't always have to mean complex. These looks both flatter the figure and draw the eye towards your best features.
Breaking into a floral theme the dress above is composed of the most amazing circular cut skirt. Flowers and petals flow freely across the surface as if having been freshly strewn onto the material and the look and feel is of enchanted femininity come to life in the dress itself. With it's own natural iridescence it's another example of where a design House is using floral motif's an imagery year round and not just in the spring. It's evidently popular as it's a trend spreading through both Haute Couture and Ready to Wear. I could go on and make further analogies with Eden and paradise but you get the idea. Flowers aren't just for the spring time. Above to the left this style gets a variation with the dress cutting close to the figure with a fishtail skirt.
Beautiful and still delicate in it's understatement, it's yet another super versatile piece that could be cherished in a collection for many seasons to come.
Working with the red theme the due produced some beautiful floor length dresses in red that both sheer and opaque where pretty sensational. These looks will fit the bill for a broad sweep of public and private occasions this season and leave a host of women very Happy.
As we know Ralph & Russo come up trumps time and again when creating occasion wear and for most women the wedding day is the one of the most memorable days of their life. At the close of each Haute Couture Collection Ralph and Russo show a bridal gown that is without a doubt the most elaborate in the show calendar. As a showpiece for the skills that their preserve under their roof it's second to none and it is an example of what the House is creating from London for clients all over the world.
To the right you can see Tamara and Michael taking the applause of the audience after the show. Tamara's dress in itself is one that I would love to give a home to and I don't doubt that it had many enquiries of it's own after the show.
Versace took a new direction this season with a lighter note of playfulness coming into the designs tempering the overt strength of the sex appeal that we have seen in previous seasons. I'm a fan either way and I think that a new twist on how the designs are brought out always allows for the possibility of showing more of what the designer can do. With a new burst of energy and creativity comes a new lease of life with all the Versace staples of giving it's unique touch to the understanding and of the curve and art of the female figure. Growing up I always noticed the way the Gianni Versace had a very notable appreciation of the women's figure. It was very clear to my young eyes that he loved the form of women and wanted them to be beautiful. Today this is still close to the beat of the heart of Versace and they have a special way of celebrating women's beauty each season.
Although we may be heading into autumn the strong hint of flowers of the forest with lilac and light moss green gave echos of the year-round rural landscapes. The opening look above to the left of a soft lilac dress cut close to the figure with asymmetric skirt and glamourous train made a bold key note entrance and set the tone for a new wave at Versace. This collection was definitely moving further in the direction of a gypsy bohemian spirit with carefree ruffles at the cuff and cut-away lengths. The misty lilac gives way to a beautiful look that blends two inspirations into one as if from a dream. Light mosses and leaves cloak the figure partially to the left side while to the right visible seemed edges define the panels of the dress. This bold juxtaposition within one garment is a masterful illustration of the different directions a design inspiration can take you in within one outfit. I hope to see this look on a red carpet at some point this autumn.
Centre above is one of my favourite looks of the entire collection. This look is dripping with feminine magic and a great piece for seasonal parties that you will treasure for many years. There is a nod to the autumnal earth goddess with black leaves swathing around the surface of the dress and gracing the decollete in form of nature-made necklace. Absolutely divine. Flowers appear again forming part of the structure of the next two looks to the right hinting at both playfulness and a fresh view of form and structure. Buds and blossoms are followed by Kristen Mcmenany in a darker sartorial statement with black flowers reaching out like spiders cross the dress. A darker vision of beauty perhaps but still no less captivating.
The bohemian fairytale continues with a beautiful burst of magenta in the lightest of gowns sitting gently on the figure. Falling freely across the wearer this look will be fantastic to wear at parties through the Autumn-Winter season and could frankly see you working high energy glamour in any month of the year. It's a super piece that you also combine with a black wrap or shawl if you wished. On of the most charming features of the collection is the flower garland diadems that the models wear in their hair. It's a simple beauty statement that speaks of perhaps innocence and also a natural strength. With boundless positive natural energy it's a potent symbol of beauty.
Next to the right a full flowing floor-sweeping look in mauve is another light and natural piece to wear to a wide variety of occasions this season. The flower garlands of the diadem form a fascinating way to lace the dress together in a flower fairy-Haute Couture moment that is breathtaking to see. The look above on the centre is pure Haute Couture heaven with an immaculate fit and exquisite artistry of the atelier on display. As ever with Versace there's always a rock-and-roll twist to the looks and high class hippy chic doesn't get much better than the next two looks to the right. The mini dress in mauve with applique floral detail swings gently on the hips like all good Versace pieces do and the broad sleeves give an echo of the late 1960's/ early 1970's. The look to the furthest right is another collection favourite of mine in beautiful blush with gently sparkling crystal applique detail. The wearer looks like a modern day fairy queen ready to conquer the red carpet or any party this season.
Gently snaking across the figure the dress above to the left uses the contrast of sheer and opaque fabric to create a master piece of design. Flowing in another strong goddess style pattern the asymmetry of the dress teases the eye and adds to the easy elegance of the look. Shimmering and swaying into the night. Structure and form are key elements in the next look as symmetry is created through influences of art deco and ancient Mesopotamian art. Drawn perfectly across the figure Donatella has crafted a Queenly garment. The long weeping skirt giving the final note of elegance.
Centre above the cross fabric mini dress is a head turning piece that would suit many figures and occasions and will dazzle in front of the cameras. This will be somewhere on my wishlist for autumn. It's a true timeless Versace classic. We all know that some women wear their Haute Couture only once and discard while others cherish through many years and seasons. It's personal preference and I personally fall into the second category and would keep this one for future seasons. Next to the right a beautiful full length dress with moth-like sheer fabric brings understated sexiness to life on the catwalk. To the far right, slashed to the waist with a flattering plunging neckline the next look swings with jet-set hippy glamour for the 21st century - I want the boots!!!
Black is a strong colour statement and a touch of noir always helps to create a glamourous mood. Working around the frame of the bodice to the left the beauty of the corset around the figure with line and structure flatters the natural shape of the wearer so well. The skirt of the dress flutters lightly around the figure and it's a great look you could team up with a jacket or a wrap for a coordinated look. Gold jewellery and diamonds would also look especially stunning with this piece. In the next look Kendall Jenner works the gothic chic look with fabrics blending to create a nighttime beauty impression. The twists and weaves of natural floral elements connect Haute Couture, the highest arena of fashion design with the simplicity of earth.
Above in teal-grey is a look that's faintly Medieval in feel, channeling new-romantic gothic and bringing to mind stories of dragons and knight. Soft fabric and delicate applique contrast with firm lines and structure making this a no nonsense look to wear in private or in front of the camera for a strong impact. The lines accentuate the figures natural curves perfectly and as with the best of Haute Couture it's both new and innovative while also feeling timelessly perfect.
To the right above the collection moves into colour with a stunning cross-material dress in mauve and another in turquoise. Both stay close to the Versace House style of floor length glamour that we know and love while also playing with this seasons themes. The weave design crossing the bodice of the mauve dress beautifully replicates the natural design patterns of fabric weaving on the broader scale making the micro, macro.
The diaphanous shape of the turquoise gown is replicated in more looks as the collection draws towards it's finale. There is a luxuriant softness in this collection. Donatella said herself "I call the collection tough, but ethereal at the same time...I wanted to explore the softer side of the Versace woman" and explore she certainly has without losing any of the innate power that the woman possesses in the strength of her beauty.
It's new and fresh while at the same time the essential Versace ingredients for a fantastic dress to make us feel a billion dollars are all here as well, just as they always have been.
Jean Paul Gaultier
He does it every time, delights us with a collection filled with creativity, life and spontaneity and we fall more and more in love with his designs and genius than we were before. OK I'm sounding pretty effusive there but I mean it. Jean Paul Gaultier has decades of experience behind him and a large army of supporters behind him that have followed him over many years in some cases and he still remains true to his themes at the heart of his vision while also taking fresh new steps.
It was an undeniably bold move to step away from Ready to Wear last Autumn in Oct 2014 but if you're in any doubt about following your heart and desires this new collection of Haute Couture, where Jean-Paul has devoted so much of his time has put the seal on a new era of his career. Going back to his roots and the classic JPG Sailor-Girl/Boy muse he found an infinite source of inspiration and here below you can see the some great backstage material shot by Rainer Torado (c) give a multitude of expression to the mis en scene of the collection.
Hair and make-up had the look of beach-girl meets theatrical in the a great combination. Military-esque jacket embroidery suited cat-walking soldiers to a T and a closer look at the detail of the work on the garments shown in these photographs illustrates the finesse and artistry of the Haute Couture atelier. The shot above to the right was one of my favourite of the backstage set with three sailor girls to the right above working the navel theme as their hair tumble down in lose mermaid-style tresses. Divine looks all round. Below theatrical looks and chinoiserie brought a high-impact elegance that with JPG's careful hand never felt like 'too much'. I loved the Egyptian inspired eye liner that perfectly complimented the strength of the colour in the outfits. These are bold confident looks with all the razzmatazz that we expect from JPG teamed with the innate understanding of how to make women truly beautiful.
The collection opened with the themes of the horizontal sailor stripes and a play on shapes and angles. I picked up more hints of ancient China here in this collection for example in the opening shot of the headpiece that was worn by the model. Elongating and making a statement it provided a powerful contrast with the circular form skirts. Working in 3 colours, black, blue and white form and style are brought into sharp focus with the end result of fresh striking creations with the light natural feel of Haute Couture. I loved the circular apron-style skirts in the first two looks juxtapose with the lines of colour. Clever crafting from the Maestro.
The second look re-works the classic pinafore into a chic outfit that is one my wish-list from cap to boots along with the must-have winter coat incorporated into the next. With it's roll neck collar and sailor hat this is essential JPB that translates everywhere in the world. To the right the next three looks have fascinating embroidery detail worked into them and weave a great spell around the figure. Turkish inspired textiles give rise to the beautiful applique that lets the creativity of the atelier bloom in the hands of the artisan crafts people. Burnished gold heralds the call of Egypt and the orient while sitting perfectly alongside the sailor stripes. The JPG women is at the start of a wonderful journey. The beautiful circular patterned skirt to the far right is a vibrant play on the sailor stripes and full of fun.
The first look below to the left shows the boy-ish side to the collection with fantastic re-imagined sailor trousers and stripes re-born into a beautiful look. Here the echos of East in the detailed applique are set off by the light sheer coat slipping gently off the shoulders and gracefully trailing behind the wearer. Eyes forward and confident the hat set at the jaunty angle is less coquette and more clear cool and confident. Next a dazzling apron skirt sits with the most delicate black velvet sweater. Warm and chic for winter. Blues and blacks continue a winter marine theme with the trousers of the next look evoking aquatic scales whilst sitting neatly with a military styled cut jacket. The Navy jacket gets a new look in the next two outfits with a long-sleeved deep pocketed coat to keep you warm through the winter months and a chic blazer trimmed with gold embroidery replicating military insignia. Complete with pipe this captain will rule the waves wherever she goes. It's a look that will make an entrance just like the next - a coat for winter that I have on my wish-list and the white broad legged trousers and warm-fit sweater underneath it are a super-chic combo that you can enjoy at any time of the year.
Cut away sleeves at the shoulder give a new design twist and movement in the fabric of the first outfit below to the left. Tumbling locks of hair in an almost pre raphaelite style blend a soft energy with defined modern tailoring. Midnight blue (a well known favourite of mine to my readers) enters palette in the next look and this beautiful one-piece with off-the-shoulder detail will dazzle on many figures this coming season. It's a look packed with style and fun like so many from this collection. Embroidery detail is a key feature of the next look with detailed craft design transforming one of the key shapes and forms of the collection into a Masterpiece of art. It's a heavenly piece and perfect for a Black and White party and so many other occasions. Full ball gown elegance sweeps majestically before us in the next look with a tiny touch of Moulin Rouge flair - well this is Jean Paul Gaultier in Paris! The stove pipe hat of the Victorian era is re-worked into a towering headpiece that transforms the woman wearing it into a goddess like figure. Very beautiful and full of life. The next two looks in black have the faint touch of Noir Punk that we love from Jean Paul Gaultier and these two pieces are pure power looks. Dark, elegant and seductive in the most sweet way.
Black continues strongly again white the colours strength broken down by the soft draping across the figure. This beautiful coat dress above to the left is the perfect accompaniment to the soft natural elegant lines of the figure. It's chic and bohemian but not so challenging to be off-beat to many clients. For JPG fans old and new this will be an absolute delight to add to their collection. The mid-shin length boots are a key accompaniment of the collection too. The next relaxed fit trouser suit all in black with shimmer and style is well suited to it's black roll-neck coordinate and will be a stylish look for both work and play this season.
Gold/Yellow gold and black provided a treasure trove of inspiration for looks with numerous pieces focusing around this theme. The first look sees a crown of gold around adorn the sailor hat and the necklace and earrings add to the regal theme of the look. Majestic with confidence she leads the way and behind her Imperial Chinese style hints seem to follow. The embroidery detail here could easily take you to another dimension. It's simply stunning and the jacket with knee-high boots is a beautiful piece of art in it's self. With a nod to some JPG traditions of his own the corset-style lacing of the jacket brings burlesque of the later two centuries together with the intricate touch of the east. Swirls and circles are extremely important in these designs and resonate with an almost musical quality. To the right above the the cropped sheer blouse is a light care-free sexy piece with light delicacy contrasting with the formal style of the naval inspired trousers.
Asymmetric expression continues the theme above is a lose fitting easy piece that falls gently across the upper figure with fascinating maze-like designs worked across the trousers. Gold jewellery sets of the complete look to perfection with a simple black clutch and colour is in full burst to the right as a solar face stares out at the world from the front panel of the skirt. Hair literally becomes the crowning beauty of women in the next two looks as the elaborate towers weaved on top of the head create a marvelous extension of beauty. The first look in open weave embroidery moves over the figure in an almost hypnotic way as the wearer walks. The next look in burnt umber and brown offers a warm variation of the navel stripes and Turkish inspired design.
The next look to the right is another one of my favourites with the velvet trim giving simplified form and structure. With a variation on the classic navel military jacket this stunning ensemble will look stunning on the red carpet and on at events during the Autumn-Winter season. To the right a warm umber and black contrast neatly to give a soft light for the winter and make a sexy party piece.
As the collection moves more steadily into occasion looks and pieces that will look perfect for black tie and red carpet events so the play with colour intensifies. The first look to the left mixes texture and fabric melding black and fire-red, feather patterns bring the life and sparkle of nature to the piece while next to the left Imperial Yellow and Gold blend with a touch of ever present humour. Next a stunning piece in midnight blue makes a goddess statement along evoking regal glamour of the silver screen or a distant throne in a far away unknown land. The bronzed piece in the next shot is another statement of power fashion wile moving to black velvet JPG again shows us more idea around the theme of playing with the neckline.
Fittingly the later part of the collection comprises of broader expansive pieces as the series of looks draw to a crescendo. Stylistic motif's are drawn together in a more overt form and the final dress, traditionally the bridal piece in Haute Couture, is comprised of a beautiful composition of textured embroidery. You may think you see a Turtle shell or a figure on the skirt of the dress, for many of us it will have a different meaning but the lattice web represents femininity and strength I believe and a nod to the most ancient and early days of garments and design created by either men or women.
Further below two lovely shots by Stanislas Alleaume with Hamish Bowles and Anna Wintour in the front row and backstage with Jean Paul and friends including Laura Smet, Arielle Dombasle & Farida Khelfa.