“I thought that was a modern idea to make them participate. They should be shown too,” Karl Lagerfeld shared of Chanel’s haute couture presentation. By “they”, he was referring to the 120-strong tailoring and dressmaking atelier teams at Rue Cambon.
To set the stage for one of the season’s most impressive collections, Lagerfeld had the entire staff transported to the Grand Palais, along with their dummies, sewing machines, cutting tables, mirrors, fabric swatches, embroidery materials, canvas toiles, and other tools. Here, as all 71 looks were unveiled to the audience, they would carry on working.
Chanel’s distinctive sleek silhouette was given a lift with strong graphic shoulders, as jackets with three-quarter sleeves were worn over wide-cut trousers. Tweed, Chanel’s other signature, was updated in a spectrum of scrumptious colourways, several dripping with elegant embroidery or beading.
Lagerfeld drew on English illustrator Aubrey Beardsley’s art nouveau illustrations for the after-hour offerings. As details increased in density, feathers spring from the shoulders and hems of dresses, pockets protrude at the hips, and black bows sprout from a feathered dress, among others. To set off these, fabrics were deliberately light with faille, mikado, chiffon, organza, silk tulle, and crepe georgette. Who could have resisted such a magical, marvellous and imaginative experience?
And as Lagerfeld took his final bow with the four Chanel premieres — heads of the two tailleur (tailoring) ateliers and two flou (dressmaking) ateliers — it reminded the audience once again why haute couture remains cherished by everyone who loves fashion.
1. The Grand Palais was also where Chanel staged presentations like Autumn/Winter 2015 haute couture, during which it was transformed into a Parisian café. It was dressed up like an airport terminal for the label’s Spring/Summer 2016 ready-to-wear show.
2. Would you wear hair like Marge Simpson’s? The Chanel squad did. To match the imaginative updo, models sported fantastical doll-like makeup by Tom Pecheux, who not only smudged dark liner under the eyes but also applied triangle false lashes on the top lash lines.
3. As always, the bride was the highlight. Edie Campbell played the part this season with a high-collar jacket that comes with a train embroidered with feathers. Pink camellias topped her high updo.
Maria Grazia Chiuri, the newly appointed creative director of Dior, will find plenty to appreciate about Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux. The Swiss duo was part of the in-house design team that kept the shows going after the departure of Raf Simons in October 2015.
Drawing on Monsieur Dior’s Bar Suit, comprising hourglass jacket and full skirt, Meier and Ruffieux further refined the Dior sensibilities with their carefree attitude. By keeping the palette to black and white, all eyes were kept on the craftsmanship, which showed through the exquisite cuts, elegant shapes, as well as sculptural gold embroidery that embellished everything from crepe jackets to silk blouses and chiffon dresses.
Going back to the basics interestingly gave the collection an inimitable youthfulness and wearability. Dresses and skirts were roomier and friendlier, with linings of organza to keep the overall effect lighter and smarter. Jackets were also deliberately deconstructed, either elongated or gathered for movement and modernity.
1. Dior Makeup image and creative director Peter Phillips gave the models dramatic cat eyes with heavy eyeliner on the upper lash lines, or on lower lines lashes and extended towards the temple. Most had black while a few had gold.
2. High fashion requires high-octane jewellery, and Dior gave it a touch of quirky with asymmetric gold collar neckpieces.
3. The show was staged at 30 Avenue Montaigne, where the Dior atelier is housed. Gold leaf sheets, which adorned the white walls, reinforced focus on the gold embroidery on the clothes.
With a collection like “Legends and Fairy Tales”, Fendi illustrated that 90 is just a number. Creative director Karl Lagerfeld drew on Danish artist Kay Nielsen’s art nouveau-inspired illustrations for East of the Sun, West of the Moon, a 1914 compilation of Scandinavian folk tales. “All the looks have something poetic, but in a very contemporary dimension,” he said.
Fur was the focus throughout all the 46 looks, which needed up to 600 hours of expert artisans to make by hand. Up first was an A-line trench coat in astrakhan fur, donned by model-of-the-moment Kendall Jenner. This was followed by lace dresses appliqued with flowers of sheared mink, and ethereal crochet confections with intricate cutwork embroidery of mink swatches and fringed leather. Storybook scenes were depicted with tiny squares of mink hand-stitched onto offerings, with results most spectacular in the cape Bella Hadid wore for the closing.
Fendi’s most elaborate fur workmanships were further enriched by embroideries, organza flowers, feather bugs and butterflies created by legendary ateliers Lesage and Lemarié.
1. When the show ended, Karl Lagerfeld, with Silvia Venturini Fendi by his side, appeared on the runway. He also threw three coins into the fountain, a tradition many believe brings one back to Rome.
2. Models were shod in stretch ankle-sock booties perked up with floral embroidery and whipstitching.
3. Even the show was a fairy tale in itself. In order for it to be held at the Trevi Fountain — which Fendi had forked out US$2.4million to restore — the water had to be completely drained before a plexiglass runway could be laid over. The fountain would then be filled with water again.
A pink cashmere coat with green duchesse satin lining is worn off the right shoulder to reveal an asymmetrical wine-red bustier. With that, Donatella Versace made sure that her message was aptly conveyed to the crowd: The new Atelier Versace muse is demure and elegant.
It is a refreshing detour for the label sought after for its exuberant designs, bold colours and down-to-there necklines. Sexy is no longer just a show of skin; it’s about how it’s presented — and here, through the dramatic sensuality of shapes. Instead of trying to distract with all that shimmer and sparkle, Versace demonstrated her prowess as a fashion force. Indeed, her collection featured pieces that were draped, folded and wrapped around the body to accentuate the female form. Even during moments when Versace suspiciously caved in and sprinkled several frocks with paillettes, the undulating waves of fabric on these concoctions gave them sculptural finesse.
Seduction was just part of the mission, it seemed. A lilac slip dress under a crimson coat with aquamarine lining, a combination described as the designer’s personal favourite, showed that wearability was also very much on her mind. Ornamentation and embroidery were kept to the minimum, as she strived to please with asymmetrical cuts and interesting fabric mixes: A jacket with pleats on one side added pizzazz to a black pantsuit, while a one-shouldered black mini bore a train of lilac and bronze for an unexpected touch.
Having fun, nonetheless, is still at the core of the Versace DNA. Accessories evoked femininity but with a sprinkling of youthfulness, thanks to bow knotted leather pumps and oversized silver earrings. Some pieces were conceptualised like gifts, such as a long-sleeved red sheath with swaps of fabric, and a ribboned-up blush mini.
1. Versace’s more relaxed aesthetic was embodied by the models’ hair, which Guido Palau pulled into chignons or ponytails for that perfectly imperfect vibe.
2. For a throwback to the 1980s, makeup maestro Pat McGrath gave some models lavish streaks of silvery blue cat eyes, and the rest glitter scarlet lips.
3. Opened by Karen Elson, closed by Carolyn Murphy, the show was arguably the season’s most star-studded. It also featured runway sensations like Joan Smalls, Sasha Pivovarova, Mariacarla Boscono, Irina Shayk, Taylor Hill, Stella Maxwell, and model-
On a pair of clean and neat shoulders Giorgio Armani has set his haute couture collection this season. The Italian designer who turned the office jacket into a personal statement sent out an immaculate 55-piece line-up comprising boardroom-ready pantsuits, desk-to-date ensembles, and gala dinner ball gowns.
Geometrics was the order of day, with houndstooth checks providing most of the pattern play, especially jazzing up satin pantsuits in hues of icy blue and pink. Some of these jackets were thrown over velvet harem pants and maxi skirts with thigh-high splits. Subtle but no less sensual were the gowns, many of which were embellished with pearl applique embroidery.
1. Style icon and award-winning actress Cate Blanchett, who is the face of Giorgio Armani Si fragrance, was in the front row. “Mr Armani’s work is always evolving but he always goes back to the essentials,” she says. “So I find it exciting to see what he does each season, as I do, to go back over the legacy of shapes and looks and silhouettes that has evolved over his long and exciting career.”
2. Pearl and crystal drop earrings were the accessory du jour for Armani Prive’s luscious red carpet-ready confections although ladies who prefer the day-to-night pantsuits will be pleased with round sunglasses.
3. What spells grown-up edgy better than a pompadour? All you need is a dollop of pomade and hairspray!
GIVENCHY BY RICCARDO TISCI
Rules are meant to be broken. And when Riccardo Tisci repeats such rebellious behaviour, well, it becomes a tradition. For the third consecutive season, he has included Givenchy’s haute couture into his menswear show. Not that anyone complained — the lean, fluid silhouettes lightened and brightened the ominous vibe brought on by brooding streetwear warriors.
Juxtaposition is a skill Tisci has perfected into an art. His Greek goddess-worthy bustier column gowns are perked up with ruching, pleating, ruffles, sequins, beads and fringes — everything the 1920s flapper would drool over. A pair of chic tailored jackets also took a shine with acrylic mirror crystal embroidery and zipper details.
1. All 13 looks were each modelled by Tisci’s muses, led by Natalia Vodianova, who delivered her fifth child just a month before the show this year. Also in the cast was Givenchy’s latest campaign model, Bella Hadid.
2. Referencing the gender-bender spirit of the 1920s, hair was sleek, slicked, and parted on the side. Makeup was also kept clean and natural, with models showing off flawless skin.
3. With a sartorial statement as strong as this, accessories can come across as an afterthought. A pair of white diamond and pearl eye pendant earrings bestows just the right touch of elegance.
After 26 years of creative collaboration — eight of which were spent as co-creative directors at Valentino — Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have parted ways. Chiuri will make her debut as Dior’s first-ever female creative director at the Spring/Summer 2017 ready-to-wear presentation.
As such, this is one spectacle of a swansong. To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of literary great William Shakespeare, Chiuri and Piccioli drew on the English playwright’s cast of heroines. After all, many of his famous productions were set in Renaissance Italy, including Romeo and Juliet, and The Merchant of Venice.
The 61-strong collection expressed theatrics right from the get-go: White starched ruff collars, taffeta cloaks, latticework frocks, peacock feather skirts, petite masculine jackets, slim-cut riding pants and voluminous gowns. But like any compelling production, it offered equal measures of mystery, decadence, nostalgia and sensuousness.
Look closer, and behold the sumptuousness that cleverly softened the austere silhouettes. A long patchwork coat glistened with colourful beading and embroidery that took 1,200 working hours to stitch. Another amazing confection flaunted in intricate beading and embroidery the quote, “If you love me I’m in your heart, if you hate me I’m in your mind” — that required a comparatively less labour-intensive 580 hours. Another 110 hours were used to hand-paint creatures on a taffeta frock with poplin collar.
Much of Valentino’s youthful spirit is expressed through the ingenious juxtaposition of opposites by Chiuri and Piccioli. Whether sheer and opaque, hard and soft, leather and lace, or sculptural and graphic, the duo’s magic lies in their ability to pull together disparate aesthetics. Case in point: The black knee-high riding boots that infused the luxurious pieces with a rugged, grounded touch.
1. Valentino’s sky-high clout among the world’s most-followed It girls meant many were spotted at the show. Among them were Milla Jovovich, Zoe Kravitz, Olivia Palermo, Princess Olympia of Greece and Alba Rohrwacher — all clad in Valentino, of course.
2. Jewellery plays an integral role in the surreal beauty Valentino has so successfully evoked. For these Shakespearean heroines, frequent collaborator Italian artist Alessandro Gaggio bestowed a punk polish with his series of leather chokers with crystals and charms.
3. Women during Renaissance Italy loved their pale complexion so makeup artist Pat McGrath kept models’ faces natural with nude lipstick, well-groomed eyebrows, and a tint of healthy glow on the cheeks. Also taking the cue from the same ladies, who desired high foreheads, was hairstylist Guido Palau, who centre-parted and smoothed models’ locks into a low pony, adding a row of mini gold bands to the strands along the hairline.