The avant-garde creations of this year’s Autumn/Winter Haute Couture collections were shown in Paris, France, last week. Haute couture is often awe-inspiring, provocative and a reason to fall deeper in love with fashion.
It’s no joke being considered a haute-couture designer. French law goes to the extent of regulating which fashion houses are eligible to be considered haute couture to ensure the standard of the opulent materials, meticulous hand-executed techniques and construction of garments from start to finish are upheld. Haute couture can be referenced back to the 17th century and even though the essence of this artistry is still held close today, there are some expanding on the idea of haute couture.
Here are Marie Claire’s highlights of A/W Haute Couture Week 2018:
After indulging in the ideas one of his younger clients, Giambattista Valli’s perspective has been rejuvenated. The use of ‘flou’, the ethereal styling of vapourific fabrics, injected a youthfulness into the looks that included bandeau tops, high-waisted pants, minidresses and short-in-the-front long-in-the-back shirts. Bold prints and colours are used generously, plus the feathery shoes are a fashion risk I may just be willing to take.
2. A layered observation
Similarly, creative director John Galliano opened the atelier of Maison Margiela to Millennials and Gen-Zers for a closer understanding of the attachment we have with technology and digital devices. This attachment was emphasised by the iPhone-holder prosthetics attached to the models’ ankles and arms as they walked down the runway.
The collection titled Nomadic Glamour expresses how we are protective yet inviting, fragile yet you want to touch us through the excessive layering of recycled fabrics, like quilted bin-liners and foam in sorbet colours. What a tantalising observation of our culture.
3. Supersonic, hypnotic, funky-fresh
Iris van Herpen’s talent is undeniable and being relatively younger than her peers, she is adding to the essence of haute couture through her use of technology in the assembling of her garments. Titled Syntopia, Van Herpen’s collection ‘slows down the movement of the fabric’ during a speedy show. The looks resemble sound waves and glass wings. The colour palette intensifies the assumed fragility of these masterpieces, leaving them seemingly unwearable and simply an impressive sight to behold.
4. #FreeTheNipple & other political messages
Le enfant terrible of French fashion, Jean Paul Gaultier bases his looks on streetwear, focuses on popular culture and questions gender norms. Gaultier was the first to put men in skirts in the 80s, and now in 2018, he had a male and female model side-by-side topless. The male in an ankle length skirt and the female in tuxedo pants. Both with a clear plastic shield tucked into their waistbands and the words, ‘TETONS LIBRES’ printed above his exposed chest and the words ‘FREE THE NIPPLE’ printed below her exposed breasts. Just another titillating way Gaultier has disturbed gender norms and advocated for gender equality.
In the very same collection, Gaultier also draws attention to the provoking smoking ban in Paris’s public parks that the French government is set to implement. Overtly, through the words “SMOKING. NO SMOKING.” printed on to some pieces and through the use of smoking jackets, smoke-thin sheath dresses, androgynous tailored tuxedos and the grand finale, Gaultier’s bride, resembled a cloud of smoke in grey silk and a veil with a wispy train.
5. Faux real?
Gucci’s conscience started a trend last year October by going fur-free. Soon after, Michael Kors and Versace followed. Now only a year after their haute fourrure show, Fendi showcased how non-fur materials could be used in ways that resemble fur. Anyone could have easily confused the opening coat made of frayed narrow strips of chiffon with an intarsia mink coat. Even though the show still included fur, Fendi showed they too can create brilliant alternatives.
6. Finally, another black bride
The king of couture, Karl Lagerfeld, presented a sublime homage to the streets of Paris. With tweed, bouclé, silk and chiffon lining, embroided skirts and a whole lot of zips, the looks represented the high profile of Paris. However, Adut Akech Bior made the collection significant by being the second black ‘bride’ to close a Chanel haute-couture show. The first black bride was fellow Sudanese model Alek Wek and that was back in 2004. Bior garnered the mint green tweed gown she wore the attention it deserved.
7. An homage to Givenchy and his muse
After Givenchy’s artistic director, Clare Waight Keller, designed the Duchess of Sussex’s wedding gown, there has been much anticipation for her second haute-couture collection. The collection was a tribute to the later Hubert de Givenchy’s legacy, and who better to inspire the pieces than Givenchy’s muse, Audrey Hepburn. The models walked to an instrumental version of ‘Moon River’, the song Hepburn performed in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The opening gown was once worn by Hepburn, but updated with wool, georgette and metallic accents. Among exquisite coats, metallic accessories, including breastplates, belts and headgear, were exciting additions to the legacy of Givenchy.
8. Beauty’s proportions
Valentino’s creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli, took advantage of the freedom of expression haute couture provides. As opposed to prêt-à-porter, haute couture gave Piccioli space to exhale into his definition of beauty. According to the designer, the collection is ‘renaissance meets Versailles meets ’60s whatever’. As far as I am concerned, the collection demonstrated the grandeur of a haute-couture collection: voluminous silhouettes, heaven-scraping hair and a rainbow of colours.