Style Check: reviews from Paris Haute Couture fashion week

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2014, 6:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2014, 6:30pm


The big headliner was the much anticipated revival of the house of Schiaparelli. Founded by Coco Chanel’s arch rival, couturier Elsa Schiaparelli, who counted Giacometti and Salvidor Dali as friends and influences, the label’s resurrection is now under the helm of Marco Zanini. The debut collection had editors talking for the whole of Haute Couture week.

Mixing Parisian craft (see the featherwork and handcraft materials) with a cool, individual sense of dishabille – led to a result that was an astonishing, quirky, beautiful take on couture. Unlike Versace, which was all about one kind of woman, Schiaparelli’s outfits were about many. Irreverence was the key word as Zanini continued on the spirit of non-conformity the house was known for.

However, in the modern day, this translated to masculine tailoring mixed with liquid feminine draping in swarths of silk charmeuse. Ostrich and rooster feathers adorned accessories, and jewellery nodded to the surreal and sublime - see the jewel green ivy cuff climbing up the model’s entire forearm. Hand painted prints from the brand’s archives tied the modern collection neatly to Schiaparelli’s 1920s and 30s heyday.


Raf Simons played out his youthful Dior woman with deft precision in this Spring Summer show; precision of vision, of palette, and of the razor-sharp cut-outs that defined the ultra lightweight materials. It started off with pure, innocent white: short day dresses and outfits almost floating on the model’s bodies. The mission here was to explore the inner world of couture clients and designers, paring back dressing to their painstakingly constructed forms and stripped of surface bold prints or colours.

Simons said that he saw the collection as “almost abstract” in its exploration of intimacy, where tiered layers of silk, embroideries, delicate floral appliqués, cut-out shapes and waffles rendered dresses architectural. Despite the complicated processes involved and the highly technical handiwork, Simons’ vision remained feather-light, effortless and resoundingly positive. This was a nod to the contemporary life of couture, even in those breathtaking finale gowns.


Apart from the lights going out mid-show, Giambattista Valli’s ultra feminine silhouette once again drew eyes. Oversized bows and satiny folded peplums emphasised the hips, and there were also plenty of adorable miniskirts and dresses, giving younger couture clients something to lust after. However some of these could have been more flattering to a woman’s shape.

Clearly there was no expense spared when it came to the bright embroideries, beading and colourful gemstones at Valli. The sewn all over skirts and bodices made for a very regal effect indeed. Whites and light pastels dominated the gowns, though strong blue and red hues made for wonderful contrast in painterly floral prints. Valli’s clothes are all about curves and this was no exception - here was an ode to dramatic silhouettes and red carpet winners that look right at home in a golden area of Hollywood-style photoshoots.