It was back to business as usual at Paris haute couture, but some designers and houses offered a touch of modernity amongst a trade that continues to value traditional escapism for the elite.
Showing his first couture show in over two years, Mr Armani stuck to the codes that have built his name and company into a global empire. Familiar elements of black velvet, Chinoisserie, beaded gowns referencing old Hollywood and flowing silk were in amply supply. The devil, of course, lies in the detail: the exquisite way a tunic was hand-beaded along the hems and neckline, or the gentle fold of a ruffle on a pink gown lightly pouffed without needing volumetric extremes. Mr Armani has always cut his cloth generously to allow for movement and flow of the body without swaddling the wearer. A true couturier.
For fall, Maria Grazia Chiuri worked with Ukrainian artist Olesia Trofymenko, who created an installation and set the scene for the show’s theme: Tree of Life. The slant on tradition and circularity made for a whimsical and folky haute couture collection. Favouring a long silhouette and traditional splendour over edgy glamour, it was the craft of lace, patchwork, embroidery and appliques that stood out.
Viktor & Rolf
Remember last season’s corsets that saw shoulders rise like scaffolding, making the models’ heads appear tiny? This season the shoulders appeared to be levitating, with high collars openly enveloping models from the neck up. The Dutch design duo have proven to be equal masters of construction as they are of art. The second half of the show saw a shift in mood, with the designers taking to the runway to undress and re-dress a model. Here Viktor and Rolf carefully removed the jacket and hidden structure that elevated the shoulders and replaced the platform shoes with a stiletto. All it took was a new coat and tweaks to the look to create a softer silhouette. It proves that at the end of the day it is the hands and vision of people that make couture sing.
Chandelier earrings that draped like bunches of grapes, bustiers exposing breasts, oversized hats and bags made of straw, a velvet coat dress in full bloom – this could only be the work of Daniel Roseberry at Schiaparelli. The brand, steeped in surrealism and humour, has found in Roseberry a passionate kinsman, who shares and brings to the Maison’s clients the same traits, without needing to confirm to more conservative standards. The corset may be ever-present in Roseberry’s designs, but there were plenty of beautiful pieces that were utterly wearable, like a deep v-corset with flowing trousers in Yves Klein blue or a velvet dress coat, held together in the waist with buckles, so exquisitely simple bar the exacting shoulder and gold-ringed pockets.
Demna has cemented himself as a couturier of the 21st century, bringing a modern touch to the stuffy world of old monied couture. Opting for maximum impact – Nicole Kidman, Kim Kardashian and Naomi Campbell walked the show – it opened with a suit inspired by scubadiving, complete with gloves and pumps in black Japanese neoprene and a face shield. Other fabrics included a crystal net embroidered dress, rubber high heeled space pumps, silver tweed, faux feathers and embroidered cashmere. Like Pieter Mulier at Alaia, Demna doesn’t shy from putting denim on the runway, upcycling jeans to create new silhouettes. Possibly the best show of the week.