Bees - and their natural environment - were on Karl Lagerfeld's mind this season. The set of Chanel's spring/summer 2016 haute couture show, held as always at the Grand Palais, featured a sprawling green lawn, shallow pools with drifting water lilies and a large wooden structure reminiscent of a bee box. After Chanel regular Baptiste Giabiconi opened the pavilion's doors via remote control, model Mica Arganaraz came out of it, clad in a raglan-sleeve jacket and a long skirt, a variation of the Chanel suit that reappeared throughout the presentation. The busy bee, which is an apt metaphor for the super prolific Lagerfeld, was embroidered on blouses and peasant dresses and even showed up as an appliqué on tiny rectangular bags models wore at the waist. Bee numbers are declining around the world, so the show seemed to allude to themes such as sustainability and the fragility of nature. The collection had a touch of Little House on the Prairie to it but it was done in chic Chanel style, with tweeds made to look like burlap, long pilgrim dresses, prim and proper tiered tea dresses and a vest made of tweed and wood worn by model Molly Bair. The palette skewed to natural hues such as beige; the only prints were abstracted florals. For la mariée (the bride), the show's last look, Arganaraz wore a white dress topped with a soft-as-a-feather hooded bomber that looked like a cloud of embroidery and sequins.
Style is what Giorgio Armani is about, not fashion. His ready-to-wear collections vary only slightly from season to season, never failing to include Armani staples such as soft jackets, well-tailored trousers and liquid evening gowns. His couture line, Armani Privé, on the other hand, is where the designer is free to indulge in his flights of fancy and give free rein to his creativity.
For his haute couture spring/summer 2016 show, Armani decided to experiment with colour. A palette of lilac, baby blue and silver pervaded a collection that featured signature Armani silhouettes such as transparent jackets worn with shorts and sparkly blouses paired with sheer trousers. While a few dresses featuring tiers of ruffles looked a bit too flamenco, the short sequinned dresses and two gowns made of a black bodice and a pleated skirt were made to stun on the red carpet - their shimmery surfaces will reflect the flashbulbs of the paparazzi beautifully when they take centre stage this award season.