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FALL 2020 COUTURE: A TRULY DIGITAL FASHION WEEK

- - Fashion Shows

Balmain’s Fall 2020 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Balmain)

If you’re a faithful follower of the UoF blog, then you know what we’ve been asking for years… “are fashion shows still relevant”?

This question has long been debated among the fashion set as well. But the fashion industry, an industry whose DNA is ALL about CHANGE & TRENDS, has historically been reluctant to abandon live runway shows and try something new. It has literally taken a pandemic to get them off the dime!

Alas! For this Fall 2020 Haute Couture season, the industry has given the digital runway world a whirl. However, reviews of digital shows for this couture season have been mixed. Many fear that if digital IS the future of fashion, then the economies of Paris, Milan, London and New York’s will greatly suffer. Why? Because fashion week in each of these cities brings many other financial benefits. Buyers, clients and the press, book flights, hotels and restaurants. Lots of lost revenue. Let’s not forget the taxi drivers, Uber drivers, D.J.’s, lighting technicians, show venues, models, and the list goes on and on. More lost revenue.

By going digital, the industry also misses out on the social aspect of attending shows. Fashion week is a great way for fashion editors, buyers, publicists, designers and influencers to network and celebrate fashion. However exhausting attending back to back shows for an entire month may be, watching a digital show at home, or in your office behind a computer screen, or hunched over on your phone, is just not the same. Although there were plenty creative films dedicated this Fall’s couture collections, for many, nothing beats a live show.

Paris Couture Fashion Week was kicked off with a video address by model/celeb Naomi Campbell, who dedicated the season to the “fight for equality and diversity.” Campbell quoted Nelson Mandela and the Black Lives Matter movement. “This is a call for action we are making,” she said, wearing sleeveless T-shirt bearing the words PHENOMENALLY BLACK. “It is up to us, it is up to you to start enforcing inclusion of the multitude of identities that compose our countries,” she said. “The time has come to build a more equitable industry with a good form of checks and balances. It is now more than ever compulsory to include them in a permanent way, and not a transient one,” she added.

The supermodel urged “regular and sustainable conversations with minorities from each country and culture in this mega industry.”

I am Naomi Campbell and I declare Paris couture fashion week ouvert. merci.”

SCHIAPARELLI

A Schiaparelli Couture sketch. (Photo Credit: Shiaparelli)

American designer, Daniel Roseberry, the creative director for Schiaparelli, has been quarantined in New York City since the NY coronavirus lockdown, and therefore did not have a collection to present for the Fall 2020 couture season. However, what he did do, was present a short film featuring himself sketching on a bench in NYC’s Washington Square Park. The film was dubbed an “Imaginary Collection.” Roseberry stated, “Life today is lived according to opposites; the pandemic has inverted everything we knew. Now, instead of a team to execute this collection, I just have my own imagination. Instead of the Place Vendôme in Paris, it’s been designed and sketched on a park bench.”  Who  out there doesn’t love seeing how a designer conceptualizes a collection?

Roseberry’s drawings featured nods to founder Elsa Schiaparelli that included a shocking pink column dress, a jacket with leg-of-mutton sleeves and a “chandelier” top. The house hopes to show a capsule collection of these designs in Los Angeles in December. “Everything has changed, but imagination, and the drive to create, has never been more relevant, or more profound. This collection is a tribute to that impulse to create,” said Roseberry in a WWD article. “Someday very soon, I will venture back to Paris and hand these styles off to the atelier. We will make a portion of these and take them around the world to share with our valued clients and stylists.”
Here’s his video.

BALMAIN

A look from Balmain’s Couture Extravaganza. (Photo Credit: Balmain)

Olivier Rousteing, the social media genius and creative director for Balmain, planned a two-hour extravaganza that was live-streamed on TikTok. This marked the first time TikTok has ever worked with a luxury brand. Rousteing used the hashtag #BalmainSurSeine making Paris’ Seine River his stage.

The Balmain crew traveled on a barge from the Eiffel Tower eastward and featured French pop singer Yseult and 50 dancers. A very social media-worthy idea! However, not without technical difficulties. The sound dropped and minutes after embarking the live feed cut out, never to return but by that time Balmain had already racked up about 15,000 new followers on his social media platforms. That’s a win!

“What happened on Sunday was beyond the digital Fashion Week,” Rousteing said to Vogue, estimating that approximately 20,000 locals caught at least some part of the spectacle.

After 75 years, Balmain is showing a new direction. We gave people access to our house, and we showed that we are really French. It was our gift to Paris, the City of Light,” said Rousteing. The show was re-streamed on the Federation de la Haute Couture’s online platform. According to Rousteing, “It’s really hard to just do digital without any physical experience; we are all missing it. We work for an audience and you lose the emotion if you don’t have one. We need to go back to that.”

IRIS VAN HERPEN

Everyone always looks to Iris van Herpen as the future of fashion, so it was no surprise that she created a fantasmagorial short film entitled “Transmotion.” The film was directed by Ryan McDaniels and starred Games Of Throne’s actress Carice van Houten, wandering through a modern courtyard surrounded by mesmerizing pulsating lights. Throughout the video were shots of black crystals that magically assembled on the floor and then morphed into the same lattice pattern that appeared on her dress. The film featured only one dress, but was a signature Iris Van Herpen creation that perfectly blends high-tech artistry with old-world techniques.

DIOR

A look from Dior’s Couture collection. (Photo Credit: Dior)

Maria Grazia Chiuri, artistic director of women’s haute couture, ready-to-wear and accessory collections at Dior, recruited Italian director Matteo Garrone to produce a short film showcasing the intricate looks of her Fall 2020 haute couture collection. The movie, entitled, “The Dior Myth,” was based on mythology and drew viewers into a magical woodland journey filled with fairytale creatures like sirens, nymphs, a faun and a woman emerging from a giant shell. It was dreamy and fantastical, which is what one expects from couture. However, Dior’s film caught plenty of criticism for its lack of diversity.

RALPH & RUSSO

A sketch from the Ralph & Russo’s 2020 couture collection. (Photo Credit: Ralph & Russo)

Sure travel feels like a distant memory right about now as some of us are still quarantining and can only take domestic flights, but in the digital world, anything’s possible. Tamara Ralph, the artistic director behind the Ralph & Russo label, created a whimsical collection worn by an avatar model. Ralph’s backdrop of choice? The Seven Wonders of the World, which added a playful twist to the intricate collection.

GIAMBATTISTA VALLI

A look from Giambattista Valli’s Couture collection. (Photo Credit: Giambattista Valli)

Many designers have been showing restrain this season as the crippling affects of the economy due to COVID-19 have many in panic mode, but this can’t be said about Giambattista Valli. The designer created his frothy, voluminous gowns that were unapologetically grand. He even featured a few face coverings, a nod to the pandemic, but they were purely decorative and not for protection.

Unlike other designers who collaborated with famous film directors and photographers to create their digital show, Valli  personally filmed extreme closeups of his creations with  his iPhone, yes, his iPhone!  He chose as his muse Puerto Rican supermodel and actress, Joan Smalls. “I’m taking by the hand all the viewers around the world who are still confined and can’t travel, and showing them Paris through my eyes,” he explained to Vogue.

 

CHANEL

A look from Chanel’s 2020 couture collection. (Photo Credit: Mikael Jansson for Chanel)

The eighties are back! At least in the world of Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard, who presented a line-up that was so unapologetically maximalist. There were party dresses galore and plenty of bling. “It’s an eccentric girl with a touch of the Eighties. I wanted something joyful,” the designer said in an interview with WWD. Viard worked with photographer Mikael Jansson to create a show video: a one-minute, 22-second burst of images spliced with grainy black and white footage of models Rianne Van Rompaey and Adut Akech.

 

RAHUL MISHRA

A look from Rahul Mishra’s Fall 2020 haute couture. (Photo Credit: Rahul Mishra)

Every stitch, every knot is strongly related to the present and future of an artisan, especially hit by the pandemic,” said Rahul Mishra in an interview with WWD. The designer is more determined than ever to support the embroiderers of India who created his elaborate designs. “Butterfly People” was the title of the collection, as it is meant to evoke nature flourishing without human intervention.

 

VIKTOR & ROLF

A look from Viktor & Rolf’s 2020 haute couture collection. (Photo Credit: Casper Kofi for Viktor & Rolf)

‘Couture in the time of coronavirus’ was the reality behind Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren’s namesake couture collection. The duo cleverly created three mini wardrobes comprised of a negligee, dressing gown, and coat, meant to represent pandemic-related emotional states.

They started the video with the fear and anxiety, emotions that we are all feeling as a society, but then the show quickly evolved into visuals representing feelings of love and joy. In the video, singer Mika plays a retro newscaster offering deadpan commentary on Viktor & Rolf’s collection. His description of a spiky coat was part of the gloom-and-doom segment. “There’s a lot to feel angry about and this garment will communicate exactly that,” he intones.

The collection consisted of nine intricate creations that ranged from a storm cloud slip dress to the ‘halo of hearts’ confection pictured above. All with Viktor & Rolf’s famous tongue-in-cheek humor.

Our Favorite Couture Video

At UoF, we think the most creative of all fashion video productions is this one by Dior, showcasing their new dress collection on 37 half scale dress forms each handmade by their expert couturiers and petits mains. Once the preferred design method used by famed French designer Madeleine Vionnet, working half scale is a great way to try out your designs sustainably. Dior plans to take orders by sending these clothed mini dress forms to their clients around the world.

Be sure to check out UoF’s social media channels and website to view our upcoming half scale draping and pattern making series. So very inspiring!

 

What are YOUR thoughts about digital shows vs runway shows?

IS COUTURE RELEVANT IN TODAY’S WORLD?

COUTURE SPRING 2018
Chanel's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Chanel’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Fanciful, exquisite, luxurious, unique, all these adjectives come to mind when one thinks about the exclusive world of Haute Couture. While the spring 2018 couture shows in Paris have recently come to an end, we can all expect to see plenty of these dramatic, breathtaking creations on the Red Carpet on Oscar night. But the question remains, is couture relevant in today’s world?

By definition, Haute Couture is the French word for “high sewing,” “high dressmaking” or “high fashion”; it is the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. These one-of-a-kind creations are constructed by hand from start to finish by the most experienced and talented sewers, known in the biz as les petite mains. Check out the movie Phantom Thread to get a sense of how hard and talented these ‘golden hands’ work to create  magic, often on the most severest of deadlines. The fabrics used are the most luxurious and expensive textiles created. All of the beading and embroidery in couture are not only sewn by hand but take weeks and months to execute.

One cannot walk into a store and purchase haute couture. These unique pieces are created for the client and specifically tailored to her body. Considering the amount of time, money, and skill needed to create one piece, haute couture can only be purchased by the wealthiest of clients. Generally, there is no price tag when it comes to couture and the saying goes…”that if you have to ask the price, well then…you can’t afford it.”

The pre-history of couture dates back to the 17th century, when Rose Bertin, the first known designer, dressed Queen Marie Antoinette. But it would be Englishman Charles Frederick Worth who would receive the honor as the  ‘Father of Couture.’ In 1856, Worth and his future wife, Marie Vernet, opened the House of Worth, in Paris. As his muse, Marie attracted the attention of the French aristocracy and in 1860, Worth became the official court couturier under Empress Eugénie. Up until that time, stylish women would visit Paris and bring back clothing that was then copied by their local dressmakers. Worth was the first designer who would not let his customers dictate design, which had been the practice until then. Rather, he was the first to design and display, via a “fashion show” on live models, his own creations for women to choose from, four times a year. He would only allow the client to select the style, fabrics and trim.

In 1868, La Chambre Syndicale de la confection et de la couture pour dames et fillettes was founded by Charles Frederick Worth to organize Parisian design houses. The name was changed in 1910 to Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne, to more accurately define the organization’s haute couture relevance and in 1973, the name was again changed to Fédération Française de la Couture.  Couture such as Callot Soeurs, Patou, Poiret, Vionnet, Fortuny, Lanvin, Chanel, Mainbocher, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, and Dior followed Worth. Some houses are still in existence today, in fact, Lanvin is the oldest!

Marie Antoinette (Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Magazine)

Marie Antoinette (Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Magazine)

 

After World War II, rules were implemented to prevent misuse of the name Haute Couture, and to outline certain criteria with regard to creativity, design, quality, and reproduction.  The term Haute Couture is legally protected — and fashion houses are granted the designation by the French Ministry of Industry. Originally, the number of required looks per collection was 50, but in 1992, it was cut in half. Then, in 2001, the goalposts shifted again, to introduce a qualitative assessment from the Fédération.  Only designers who fit their strict requirements are invited to present during the couture shows in Paris in January and in July. To become accepted, you have to play by the rules, and there are many, including that a label needs to produce at least 25 outfits per season and maintain a workroom in Paris.

 

Christian Dior fitting a client in the 1950's

Christian Dior fitting a client in the 1950’s

By the late 20th century, designers such as Christian Lacroix, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Theirry Mugler started their own couture houses, but due to the high expense of producing these collections, Lacroix and Mugler dropped their couture collection.

In today’s fast-paced, fast-fashion oriented world, where such a small percentage of the population has the wealth to buy Haute Couture, how do these houses survive? The answer is….luxury shoes & handbags, fragrances and cosmetics! While it once was true that the couture was a way for designers to try out new ideas, today couture shows serve as a vehicle for brand marketing and publicity. Yes, it’s true, some of these clothes are ordered by a small number of wealthy women or loaned to celebs for a walk on the Red Carpet, but by and large, it’s about brand-building. Those who can’t afford the hefty price tag of a couture gown, can purchase ‘a piece of the dream’ via a couture houses’s perfume, lipstick, ready-to-wear, shoes and bags.

 

Let’s take a look of some of those ‘dreamy looks’

 

 Armani Privé

Armani Privé's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Armani Privé’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Armani Privé's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Armani Privé’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Chanel

Chanel's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Chanel’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Chanel's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Chanel’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Christian Dior

Christian Dior's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Christian Dior’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Christian Dior's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Christian Dior’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Giambattista Valli

Giambattista Valli's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Giambattista Valli’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Giambattista Valli's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Giambattista Valli’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Givenchy

Givenchy's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Givenchy’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Givenchy's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Givenchy’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Jean Paul Gaultier’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Jean Paul Gaultier's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Jean Paul Gaultier’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Valentino

Valentino's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Valentino’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Valentino's spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

Valentino’s spring couture collection (Photo courtesy of Vogue.Com)

 

Let us know your thoughts, do you believe couture is relevant in modern day society?

15 Best Looks from Paris Couture Fashion Week SS17

- - Fashion Shows

While we are currently in the throes of international Fashion Week 2017, we thought we would take a look back at 2017 Couture Week, to get a better perspective of what we are seeing on the ready-to-wear runways and to offer a contrast. Couture will never die as long as  as fashion luxury conglomerates like LVMH and Kering need it to hype their handbags and perfumes. Those of us in the fashion community are grateful, because the couture preserves the art and craft of fashion. Where would we be today without the talented petits mains who so skillfully work their magic in designers’ ateliers? However, this past couture season offered up an interesting mix. Sure there was the ‘over the top’ frou frou of ruffles, embroideries and feathers, but a few new-to-couture designers, introduced bold color, cleaner lines and even minimalistic silhouettes. These elements went a long way in creating memorable couture evening wear that we can’t wait to see on starlets at this weekend’s Oscars.

We selected both timeless and avant-garde looks from Paris Couture Fashion Week Spring Summer 2017 . Let’s take a peek:

Sheer, Embellished and Appliqué

Feathers, sequins, beadwork, embroidery and appliqué set the trend as adornments on evening dresses at Paris Fashion Week. Elie Saab showcased embellished sheer gowns in a beige, pale gold and blue color palette. These dresses were accessorized with slim belts, decorated sunglasses and matching hair scarves.

elie-saab

Elie Saab (Image Credit: ElieSaab.com)

Givenchy’s cream-colored gown with feathered touches

13-givenchy-couture-spring-2017

Givenchy (Image Credit: Givenchy.com)

Leaving pastels behind, Armani Prive’s collection showcased bright orange as its summer color.

armani prive

Armani Privé (Image Credit: Vogue.com)

Minimalistic

While some couturiers were committed to showcasing embellishments, in the true couture tradition (let’s face it, who else but fans of the couture can afford these labor intensive clothes?), Valentino’s collection, in contrast, came as a surprise. Valentino designer, Pierpaolo Piccioli’s red column gown with cut-out slit armholes, focused on clean lines and less structure.

_VAL0611

Valentino (Image Credit: Valentino.com)

At Schiaparelli, Bertrand Guyon is also feeling a more modern couture aesthetic. His white gown, devoid of embellishments, adds drama to this clean shape with the addition of cape that hangs from the shoulders giving the appearance of being suspended from nothing!

Schiaparelli_SS17_s

Schiaparelli (Image Credit: ShilpaAhuja.com)

Bridal Gowns

Couture bridal gowns are ‘big’ business. At Paris Fashion Week this selection didn’t disappoint. Zuhair Murad’s offered a peplum-shaped embellished white layered gown with a long sheer veil, something that could also adorn a wedding cake. Victoria’s Secret model, Angel Alessandra Ambrosio, walked the runway wearing Ralph & Russo’s embroidered bridal gown, complete with a full length feathered cape.

zuhair-murad-

Zuhair Murad (Image Credit: ZuhairMurad.com)

Ralph & Russo : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2016-2017

Ralph & Russo (Image Credit: ShilpaAhuja.com)

The Fantasy Theme

Maria Grazia Chiuri chose a fantasy and fairytale theme for Dior’s new collection, with a pastel color palette, colorful intricate floral appliqués, garden-inspired accessories and tall headdresses.

Dior Haute Couture SS17_Look 55

Dior (Image Credit: ShilpaAhuja.com)

True to their ‘over-the-top’ reputation, Viktor & Rolf’s SS17 Couture show featured avant-garde Cinderella-like dresses, embellished with randomly shaped patch-work pieces on voluminous tulle skirts.

viktor-rolf-

Viktor & Rolf (Image Credit: Viktor-Rolf.com)

The Royal Inspiration

Guo Pei’s Marie Antoinette-inspired collection walked the line between museum-worthy and wearable.

guo pei

Guo Pei (Image Credit: Vogue.com)

Jean Paul Gaultier, one of fashion’s original ‘bad boys’ and the designer of Madonna’s iconic Conical Bra (which sold at auction for $52,000  in 2012), served up his unique brand of couture with this sheer dress complete with stand-up ruffle collar, circa 16th century. A successful mix of queenly vintage and modern style.

jean-paul-latest-

Jean Paul Gaultier (Image Credit: Vogue.com)

Art Takes the Runway

At Maison Margiela, John Galliano collaborated with tulle artist Benjamin Shine for his artisanal couture collection, featuring a white floor length coat with Shine’s black tulle portrait of a woman dramatically placed across the front of the coat. Does it get any better than this?

maison margiela

Maison Margiela (Image Credit: MaisonMargiela.com)

Futuristic Fabrics

Dutch designer Iris van Herpen’s couture collection was entitled “Between the Lines.” Van Herpen, known for her artistic collaborations, teamed up with Berlin artist Esther Stocker to explore the design elements of negative and positive spaces, gaps and contours, light and shadow. Laser-cut fabrics and Soft 3D hand-casted PU fabrics were hand-painted in another collaboration with architect Philip Beesley.

iris van herpen-

Iris van Harpen (Image Credit: irisvanherpen.com)

Ruffles

At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld channeled ‘ruffles,’ while attempting to targeting millennials, as his final look was presented on French kid star (Johnny Depp’s) Lily-Rose Depp. A baby pink gown with all over ruffles looked like the perfect prom dress for the wealthy girl whose parents have money to burn.

chanel-spring-summer-2017-(66)

Chanel (Image Credit: Chanel.com)

Giambattista Valli’s ruffles adorned the shoulders and hemline. A real show-stopper that is red carpet-worthy, for sure.

giambattista valli

Giambattista Valli (Image Credit: Vogue.com)

Chanel once said, “It is the unseen, unforgettable ultimate accessory of fashion that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure.” Surely today’s designers are creating couture that can’t be forgotten even after the wearers’ departure.

Long Live Couture!
[Top Cover Image Credit: Chanel.com]