The best looks from Paris haute couture fashion week
From Karl Lagerfeld’s elegant tweed numbers to the embellishments of John Galliano’s glamorous Maison Margiela creations, Paris haute couture fashion week marked another high note in this season’s calendar
Ready-to-wear fashion shows by top brands are often elaborate, star-studded affairs. Haute couture shows take the spectacle to a completely different level, and Paris’ recently concluded high fashion extravaganza was no exception. Here are our favourite looks from a week in which the world’s biggest fashion names showed their autumn/winter 2017/18 collections.
Disco fever, anyone? Alexandre Vauthier showed a range of sensual and appealing mini dresses and frilly cocktails numbers. This time around, the French designer was in a cheerful mood, celebrating femininity – and 1980s joie de vivre – with models walking down the catwalk to funky dance beats. Marking Vauthier’s 11th collaboration with Swarovski, model-of-the-moment Bella Hadid lit up the show in a crystal dress embroidered by Maison Lesage. It’s all about the bling, after all.
Ronald van der Kemp, for his part, invited his audience to celebrate another kind of party, taking us back to the late ’70s. The Dutch designer is reputed for his one-of-a-kind designs: every piece is crafted from vintage fabrics. His must-have looks for this season included a pair of low-waisted red patchwork trousers paired with a lapis lazuli blue crop top which was short in the front, long in the back.
Dynamic duo Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo celebrated the timeless beauty of women captured by fashion legends such as the photographers Richard Avedon, Norman Parkinson and Cecil Beaton. Their autumn/winter 2017-18 collection reinterpreted haute couture must-haves, featuring a perfectly cut, figure-hugging, tailleur mini-dress and beautifully adorned, floor-sweeping evening gown in icy mint and pearly lavender hues. Our highlight? A black and silver tweed tailleur with an asymmetric off-the-shoulder collar that screamed sophistication with an edge.
Giambattista Valli staged a romantic haute couture show in the enchanting inner courtyard of Paris’ Petit Palais. Valli’s dresses always seem to come straight out of a modern-day fairy tale, where the princess is as delicate as she is emancipated.
Draped silk gowns, tulle numbers, and frilly look-at-me-now cocktail dresses are standard at a Valli show. This season’s highlights included a lemon-coloured, off-the-shoulder cocktail dress crafted from draped and ruffled silk chiffon, as well as a cocktail suit embroidered with crystals and adorned with a maxi-sized pussy bow. Both looks were representative of the Italian designer, who crafts his haute couture pieces both for Roman princesses and worldly business ladies.
Grey dominates Zuhair Murad and Valentino shows as Paris haute couture fashion week comes to a close
Giorgio Armani showed a very sophisticated and subtle dress exhibiting the off-the-shoulder trend – a piece from the Armani Privé collection, which also included a cocktail number with fringed flower motifs on a transparent organza mini-dress that offered a trompe-l’oeil off-the-shoulder effect.
Back to basics, please
Karl Lagerfeld staged yet another catwalk show with breathtaking backdrops including a partially reconstructed Eiffel Tower at Paris’ Grand Palais. As for the fashion, Lagerfeld – after a retro-futuristic ready-to-wear show earlier this year – went back to basics for Chanel haute couture.
His main inspiration for the brand’s autumn/winter 2017/18 collection was Gabrielle Chanel herself. The many tweed numbers seen on the catwalk of the Grand Palais offered the simplicity, elegance and comfort that Chanel is reputed for, including boater hats, pearl necklaces and oversized pearl earrings. Chanel’s famous little black dress was also reinterpreted in various feminine evening numbers.
Two Chanel emblems – the camellia flower pattern and the maxi-pussy bow – were spotted as details on sleeves and shoulders, inspiring the voluminous construction of peplums and the eclectic surface adornments of a number of beautiful haute couture offerings.
At Christian Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri created a collection that celebrated the brand’s 70th anniversary. Her many travel-related haute couture numbers were crafted from tech fabrics that stood out for their luxurious, shiny surfaces, and she played with chiaroscuro effects on jackets, coats, blouses and jumpsuits.
Cocooning is king
France’s enfant terrible Jean-Paul Gaultier showed wintery, cocooning numbers, including oversized ski jumpers and quilted vests paired with shiny ski pants.
Gaultier is famous for staging fun-filled couture shows. This time around, he had model Coco Rocha stepping on a catwalk covered in fake snow and putting on a most entertaining finale as she raced down it on a Christmas-themed wheeled wagon.
Paris-based Tunisian designer Azzedine Alaia showed one of his broadest collections so far, and brought top model Naomi Campbell back to the catwalk. This was Alaia’s first haute couture show in six years – and frankly, we’re willing to wait six more years if the next one is just as pleasing as this one. The designer’s signature sculptural, figure-hugging designs were adorned with rose-motif knitted numbers and sophisticated, richly decorated styles that wrapped and protected the models’ bodies.
At Schiaparelli, Bertrand Guyon honoured the brand’s legacy by focusing on three of its core attributes – an emancipated and intense feminine touch, playful trompe l’oeil details and effects, and sophisticated silhouettes.
Guyon’s “Shocking Society” – as the collection was named – gave off an otherworldly, sometimes intriguing impression through gently deconstructed and subtly embroidered draped and airy gowns crafted from layered silk gauze and embellished with crystal and vinyl embroideries. Glass tubes, lace patterns and tulle ruché added to the effect, producing a bohemian look influenced by Elsa Schiaparelli’s contemporaries, the French Surrealists.
The maison’s signature shocking pink colour contrasted with the subtle, pearly hues of Guyon’s haute couture numbers, while patterns of suns, puzzle pieces, padlocks and hearts added a celestial, fortune-teller feeling to the collection.
John Galliano took the glamour even further for Maison Margiela. Embellishments, including the models’ bejewelled red lips, glittery hair and organically shaped face jewellery pieces, stood out; he mimicked the necklines of glamorous evening dresses, and played with feathers, crystals, and linoleum print blocks. Tailoring was heavily deconstructed and garments wrapped and styled as if the models had been dressed in haste and upside down.