University of Fashion Blog

Posts Tagged: "Jean -Paul Gaultier"

Haute Couture Renaissance: Spring 2024 Collections

- - Fashion Shows

Looks from Chanel’s Spring 2024 haute couture fashion show. (Photo Credit: Su Shan Leong)

In a world marked by fast fashion and fleeting trends, the magnificent realm of haute couture stands as a beacon of unwavering elegance and artisanal excellence. The term “haute couture” itself invokes images of meticulous craftsmanship, exquisite fabrics, and runway shows that transcend mere fashion, evolving into wearable art. As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of style, one cannot help but ponder the relevance of haute couture today and acknowledge its enduring mark on the fashion industry.

Looks from Valentino’s Spring 2024 haute couture fashion show. (Photo Credit: The Impression)

The  words “haute couture” translates to “high sewing” in French, and this meticulous craftsmanship is at the heart of what makes it so unique and relevant. Unlike ready-to-wear collections that cater to mass markets, haute couture is a celebration of bespoke tailoring, where garments are meticulously crafted by skilled artisans to fit the individual client’s body like a second skin. This dedication to perfection ensures that each piece is not merely clothing but a work of art, an embodiment of the designer’s vision, and a testament to the client’s personality.

One might argue that haute couture is an anachronism in our fast-paced, digitally driven world, but it is precisely this anachronism that makes it so significant. In an era dominated by immediacy, haute couture is a reminder that true artistry takes time. The months spent handcrafting a single gown, the attention to every minute detail, and the emphasis on quality over quantity are a stark departure from the disposable nature of contemporary fashion. Haute couture embodies a philosophy of mindful consumption and an appreciation for the art of slow fashion.

Looks from Fendi’s Spring 2024 haute couture fashion show. (Photo Credit: CNN)

Beyond its intrinsic value, haute couture serves as the laboratory of innovation for the fashion industry. Designers who partake in this rarefied world push the boundaries of creativity, experimenting with avant-garde techniques, materials, and designs that often find their way into more accessible fashion later on. The runway shows become a visual symphony, where designers collaborate with skilled artisans, photographers, and makeup artists to create a mesmerizing experience that transcends the mere display of garments and produce some of THE most amazing social media images. Many of these posts are suitable for framing.

Looks from Robert Wun’s Spring 2024 haute couture fashion show. (Photo Credit: People)

The allure of haute couture extends beyond its aesthetic splendor. It is a powerful storyteller, reflecting the spirit of its time. Designers often draw inspiration from cultural, historical, or social influences, using their collections to make powerful statements or challenge conventional norms. Haute couture is a canvas for self-expression, allowing designers to weave narratives that resonate with the collective consciousness.

Furthermore, haute couture plays a pivotal role in sustaining traditional craftsmanship. In an era where technology threatens to replace skilled artisans with machines, haute couture remains a sanctuary for the preservation of age-old techniques. The ateliers are a haven for master embroiderers, seamstresses, and tailors whose expertise has been honed through generations. By investing in these crafts, haute couture ensures the survival of skills that might otherwise be lost in the relentless march of progress.

Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner are seen arriving at the Maison Margiela Fashion show. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

And while Haute couture was filled with celebrity sightings such as Zendaya, Jennifer Lopez, the Kardashian and Jenner clan, Rihanna, and Natalie Portman to name a few, the stars did not outshine the triumphant return of Haute Couture at its best.

Looks from Christian Dior’s Spring 2024 haute couture fashion show. (Photo Credit: LVMH)

Of course, there were plenty of beautifully crafted pieces such as airy chiffon and tweed at Chanel, and Dior’s quiet luxury extravaganza. But there were a few shows that really broke the mold and pushed boundaries, that we are highlighting below:

MAISON MARGIELA

Video of Maison Margiela Haute Couture Spring Summer 2024 Collection. Video Courtesy of YouTube FF Channel.

John Galliano is a master at storytelling and for his Maison Margiela Couture Spring 2024 collection, the maestro turned out one of the most celebrated and emotional couture collections for the luxury fashion house to date. The show had it all, theatrical, rebellious, and oh so sexy. According to the house notes —it started with Brassai’s 1920s and ’30s portraits of the night-time underbelly of Paris’s clubs and streets.

This dark yet sexy inspiration turned into a dramatic work of art in Galliano’s hand. The extremely creative designer created a collection filled with extreme corsetry, padded hips, and erotically sheer lace dresses, paired with wildly imaginative hair, chiffon-masked makeup, and eerie doll-like body-modifications. “Galliano also created some scandalous hourglass dresses there was pubic hair to be seen through tulle and lace (they were merkins on underwear, but still bound to stir up a storm)” according to Vogue.

This certainly will be one show that will be praised for years to come as one of Galliano’s best and most theatrical for the House of Mason Margiela. And after years of Quiet Luxury fashion, we are all ready for dramatic fashion again.

SCHIAPARELLI

Video of Schiaparelli Haute Couture Spring Summer 2024 Collection.  Video Courtesy of YouTube FF Channel.

In a galaxy far, far away….. Daniel Roseberry had ignited the Schiaparelli house into one of the most sought out brands in only a few short seasons, and for his Spring 2024 Couture Collection, he did not disappoint his A-List fans. His Sci-Fi meets Western-inspired collection came complete with a robot baby and all.

Roseberry looked to both the future and the past for inspiration. The creative director for Schiaparelli melded retro technology, classic sci-fi movies and a nod to his Texan childhood. He created an exquisite exoskeleton dresses and an entire 3D spine inspired by both Elsa Schiaparelli’s radical 1938 skeleton dress and Giger aliens from the Alien movie series. “Dressage braids” inspired the knots on a cream leather suit that nearly looked like it could have been a space uniform from NASA and let’s not forget the nestling robot baby on a model’s hip – she was wearing a white singlet and conceptual couture cargo pants—Roseberry’s tribute to Sigourney Weaver as Ripley. “I’ve watched the Alien series, like, six times,” he said in a backstage interview with Vogue.

As for Roseberry Texas roots, there were silver-tipped Western belt buckles which formed a corset, an intricate embroidered jacket with fringe detail, and let’s not forget the horse-tail gown that Zendaya rocked at the show.

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER

Video of Gaultier by Simone Rocha Haute Couture Spring Summer 2024 Collection. Video Courtesy of YouTube FF Channel.

All eyes are on the Maison Jean Paul Gaultier as the illustrious designer, Simone Rocha takes the helm for the Haute Couture Spring 2024 show, a mesmerizing fusion of two visionary forces.

Simone Rocha, renowned for her poetic designs that seamlessly blend tradition and modernity, steps into the spotlight, bringing her signature ethereal touch to the hallowed halls of Gaultier.

The show opens with a flourish of cascading ruffles, paying homage to Gaultier’s bold and irreverent spirit. The juxtaposition of Rocha’s signature pearl embellishments against Gaultier’s iconic Breton stripes creates a visual symphony that resonates with both innovation and tradition. As each model glides down the runway, the fusion of these two design philosophies becomes a harmonious celebration of fashion’s ever-evolving tapestry.

The collection was filled with Gaultier-inspired pink cross-laced satin corsetry, and paid tribute to the house classics, turning his Breton stripes into a t-shirt made entirely of ribbons and bows.

Rocha also created exquisite haute couture ballgown—romantic-ballerina shapes made from layers and layers of tulle. It was a magnificent show that won the audience over—and according to Vogue, Rocha received a giant hug from Monsieur Gaultier himself.

So, tell us, what was your favorite haute couture show this season?

THE ENDURING MAGIC OF HAUTE COUTURE: FALL 2023

Backstage at the Iris Van Herpen Fall 2023 Couture Collection Runway Show. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Despite the backdrop of Paris protests, as a result of the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk, fashion’s elite indulged in the finer things of life and high tailoring during Haute Couture’s Fall 2023 season. Couture took center stage last week as fashion insiders and celebrities sashayed throughout the most fashionable city in the world. The Paris Couture season, which ran from July 3rd to the 6th, was jam packed with whimsical and fanciful creations and blew up every fashionista’s social media channel.

Cardi B rocks Couture Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Haute couture is the epitome of high fashion, it carries with it a rich history spanning over a century. From its origins in the late 19th century to its evolution into the modern era, haute couture has remained a symbol of creativity, craftsmanship, and timeless elegance. In today’s society, where trends come and go in the blink of an eye, it is worth exploring the roots of haute couture and examining its enduring relevance in shaping the fashion landscape.

THE HISTORY OF HAUTE COUTURE

A gown from House of Worth dated 1882. (Photo Credit: Met Museum)

The story of haute couture begins in Paris during the mid-19th century. It was Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman residing in Paris, who is credited as the ‘father of haute couture’. Worth’s innovative approach involved creating custom-made garments for individual clients, departing from the prevailing practice of mass-produced attire. By infusing creativity, impeccable craftsmanship, and luxurious materials, Worth elevated fashion to an art form and set the stage for the birth of haute couture.

The early 20th century witnessed the rise of prestigious fashion houses that defined the golden era of haute couture. Designers such as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent became synonymous with unparalleled elegance and sophistication. These designers crafted exquisite garments that reflected the spirit of their time, capturing the essence of societal shifts and women’s evolving roles. The allure of haute couture grew as these visionaries introduced iconic silhouettes, such as the “New Look,” and groundbreaking techniques that transformed the fashion landscape.

In today’s fast-paced world driven by fast fashion, mass production and rapid fashion trends, the artistry and enchantment of haute couture continues to shine as a beacon of beauty and craftsmanship. Those of us who value the talent of the petit mains who create these masterpieces in every designer’s atelier, know and respect the meticulous attention to detail that goes into creating these exquisite garments that transcend time. In today’s society, where individuality is cherished, the magic of haute couture remains an essential and awe-inspiring force.

THE RELEVANCE OF HAUTE COUTURE IN TODAY’S SOCIETY

Looks from Giambattista Valli’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Acielle)

As another season of haute couture has come to an end and the debate over whether or not couture is still revenant, no one can deny that the artistic expression and innovation was well worth it (not to mention the big marketing opportunities brands gain from  showing a couture collection). Haute couture serves as a canvas for designers to unleash their creative expertise and push the boundaries of fashion. It is a playground of innovation, where new techniques, materials, and silhouettes are explored. The avant-garde creations showcased in haute couture collections often serve as a source of inspiration for ready-to-wear lines, influencing trends and shaping the future of fashion.

A look from Schiaparelli’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Acielle)

A hallmark of haute couture lies in its impeccable craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail. Each garment is meticulously constructed by skilled artisans, employing traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations. The use of luxurious fabrics, intricate hand-sewn embellishments, and delicate embroideries creates garments of unparalleled quality and splendor. Haute couture reminds us of the enduring value of artisanal work and the irreplaceable beauty of true craftsmanship.

In a world of mass production, where conformity often reigns, haute couture celebrates individuality and offers exclusivity. Just like a Savile Row suit, each haute couture garment is custom-made for a specific client, ensuring a perfect fit and reflecting their unique personality and style. It provides a luxurious experience that fosters a sense of identity and self-expression, allowing individuals to embrace their distinctiveness in a world of uniformity.

Haute couture plays a pivotal role in preserving cultural heritage and traditional craftsmanship. Collaborations between designers and skilled artisans ensure the continuity of time-honored techniques, from intricate embroidery to hand weaving. By intertwining contemporary design with cultural traditions, haute couture showcases the richness of global heritage, paying homage to diverse craft traditions and sustaining their legacy.

HAUTE COUTURE FALL 2023 SHOWS

Looks from Chanel’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Acielle)

The Fall 2023 Haute Couture season transported us to a realm of unparalleled creativity, innovation, and artistry. From the breathtaking designs that grace the runway to the meticulous craftsmanship that brings them to life, haute couture continues to enchant and inspire. As we witness the magic unfold in Paris, we are reminded of the enduring power of fashion as an art form and its ability to captivate and transport us into a world of imagination. The Fall 2023 haute couture shows leave us in awe, eagerly awaiting the next chapter of fashion’s captivating tale. Here are some showstopping looks from each show that captured the essence of the season.

SCHIAPARELLI

A look from Schiaparelli’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Looks From Christian Dior’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Christian Dior)

THOM BROWNE

A look from Thom Browne’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

CHANEL

A look from Chanel’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

ARMANI PRIVE

Looks from Armani Privé’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Acielle)

BALENCIAGA

A look from Balenciaga’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

VALENTINO

Looks From Valentino’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar)

FENDI

A look from Fendi’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER

A look from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

IRIS VAN HERPEN

A look from Iris van Herpen’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

VIKTOR & ROLF

A look from Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

GIAMBATTISTA VALLI

A look from Giambattista Valli’s Fall 2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

So tell us, which couture show inspired you the most?

 

 

 

CELEBRATING KARL LAGERFELD: AS BOTH ILLUSTRATOR & DESIGNER

 

Karl Lagerfeld Sketches His Life video (Video Link:  You Tube)

In honor of the upcoming MET exhibit entitled “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,”  we would like to celebrate Lagerfeld’s work as an accomplished fashion illustrator, as well as a prolific fashion designer. It is a common myth that all fashion designers are able to conceptualize their fashion designs via fashion illustration. The truth is that very few designers know how to ‘illustrate‘. It is much more common for designers to execute a quick fashion ‘sketch‘ to get their design idea across.

Another misconception is that all fashion illustrators can ‘design’. Well, just because one can illustrate fashion doesn’t mean that they can also design fashion. In fact, it is quite rare when a fashion designer can do both. As many of our subscribers know, there are other skills including draping, pattern making and sewing that should be honed to become a successful designer.

Therefore, in lieu of the upcoming MET show, this week’s blog post will highlight Lagerfeld’s work as both a designer and illustrator. And, since we just celebrated World Creativity Day on April 20th, we will also be highlighting other famous designers/illustrators whose illustrations are fast becoming collector’s items, that are either sold at auction houses or on their websites for thousands of dollars.

KARL LAGERFELD: THE ILLUSTRATOR

The upcoming Lagerfeld MET exhibit, which runs from May 5 to July 16, is expected to draw fashion enthusiasts and industry insiders from around the world eager to experience the life and work of one of fashion’s most influential designers. It will feature Lagerfeld’s most iconic designs, including his re-imagined Chanel jackets, Fendi fur pieces and his signature accessories. The exhibit will also include a variety of personal items belonging to Lagerfeld, such as his sketchbooks, personal correspondence and photographs. This is definitely a designers’s dream show come true!

Karl Lagerfeld and his treasured cat Choupette in Paris 2018. (Photo Credit: Annie Leibovitz for Vogue)

Throughout his career, Lagerfeld created a wealth of fashion illustrations that captured the essence of his designs and his unique creative vision. His illustrations were often used to promote his collections and even today, they continue to inspire and captivate fashion enthusiasts.

In Lagerfeld’s early illustration work, you can see that he had a much tighter hand as shown in the images below that he did for the House of Tiziani before he joined Chanel in 1983.  His illustrations were characterized by their bold, graphic style and attention to detail. Over time however, Lagerfeld’s hand became looser and less rigid and therefore was able to capture the movement and flow of fabrics, often highly stylized, with exaggerated proportions and abstracted shapes. Despite their abstract nature, Lagerfeld’s illustrations always conveyed a sense of elegance and sophistication.

Four of the fashion illustrations by Karl Lagerfeld auctioned on April 18, 2019 (Image Credit wwd.com)

Whether Lagerfeld was illustrating a Chanel jacket or a Fendi gown, he always managed to convey the unique character and style of each piece. Used as promotional materials, Lagerfeld’s illustrations helped build anticipation and excitement for each of his upcoming shows.

Illustration of Chanel coat, fall 2017. (Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Lagerfeld’s work was also a reflection of his larger creative vision. He was known for his love of art, literature and culture, and his illustrations often incorporated elements from these fields. For example, he frequently incorporated references to classical art, such as Greek statues, Renaissance paintings or iconic monuments such as the Statue of Liberty. These references added an extra layer of depth and meaning to his work and helped to establish Lagerfeld as a true visionary in the fashion industry.

Lagerfeld’s illustration – Anna Piaggi for Liberty of Fashion, Barney’s New York
1986 (Image Credit: 1stDibs.com)

The work of some fashion designers and fashion illustrators are now highly collectable and are sold on websites like 1stDibs.com, iCanvas.com and Artsy.net or in auction houses around the world.

Lagerfeld illustration

A Karl Lagerfeld illustration circa 1960-1970: original yellow and white coat colored pencil fashion sketch – 10k Appraisal 
Includes a Certificate of Authenticity – sold for US$6,950 (Photo Credit: artsy.net)

In addition to illustrating his collections, Lagerfeld also created a number of illustrations for other purposes, such as books, magazines and even a calendar, showcasing his diverse talents and his ability to adapt his style to different contexts. Lagerfeld’s illustrations were always imbued with his signature style and creativity, making them instantly recognizable as his own.

A Chanel illustration for Lady Gaga created by Karl Lagerfeld. (Photo Credit: Facebook.com)

KARL LAGERFELD: THE DESIGNER

The MET’s Lagerfeld exhibit will consist of approximately 150 designs and according to the MET, it will “explore the artistic methodology and stylistic vocabulary of Karl Lagerfeld’s designs through recurring themes across more than 65 years, from the 1950s to his final collection in 2019”. The Costume Institute Benefit (also known as The Met Gala) will take place on Monday, May 1, 2023.

In addition to showcasing Lagerfeld’s designs, the exhibit will explore the designer’s life and legacy. Lagerfeld was known for his larger-than-life personality, his love of art and literature, and his tireless work ethic. The exhibit will delve into Lagerfeld’s background, including his early life in Germany and his rise to fame in the fashion industry. Visitors will gain insight into Lagerfeld’s creative process, his inspirations, and his collaborations with other artists and designers.

One of the most exciting aspects of the exhibit is the opportunity to see Lagerfeld’s designs up close and personal. Visitors will be able to study the intricate details and craftsmanship that went into creating each piece. From the impeccable tailoring of his jackets to the intricate embroidery on his gowns, Lagerfeld’s designs are a testament to his skill as a designer. Here’s a sample of what will be featured in the exhibition:

Wedding dress by Chanel Haute Couture from the Fall 2005 Collection. (Photo Credit: Julia Hetta. Courtesy of the MET)

A Fendi coat from the fall 2000 Collection. (Photo Credit: Julia Hetta for the MET)

The exhibit will also feature interactive elements, including virtual reality experiences and interactive displays. Visitors will be able to explore Lagerfeld’s designs in a variety of ways, from 3D projections to virtual runway shows. The exhibit will provide a truly immersive experience, giving visitors a chance to step into Lagerfeld’s world and see the fashion industry through his eyes.

KARL LAGERFELD’S INFLUENCE IS STILL FELT TODAY

A vintage photo of Karl Lagerfeld. (Photo Credit Getty Images)

Lagerfeld served as the creative director for Chanel for over three decades, before his passing on February 19, 2019.

Perhaps one of Lagerfeld’s greatest contributions to fashion was his ability to keep Chanel relevant. When he took over as creative director in 1983, the brand was struggling to remain fresh. However, Lagerfeld breathed new life into the heritage brand, infusing it with his own unique style and vision. He was unafraid to take risks and experiment with new ideas, while still remaining true to the brand’s classic aesthetic.

Lagerfeld’s re-invention of the Chanel jacket, which he introduced in the 1980s, was a modern update of the classic silhouette. The jacket became an instant classic and remains a staple of the Chanel collection, in various iterations, today. Although he is no longer with us, Lagerfeld’s influence on fashion will continue to be felt for years to come.

Some of Karl Lagerfeld’s best moments at Chanel. (Photo Credit: Harper’s Bazaar)

OTHER GREAT FASHION DESIGNERS/ILLUSTRATORS

Most designers working in the fashion industry today have little time to sit down and illustrate their ideas. Most execute quick, rough sketches that they hand off to their assistant or to their pattern maker. But there are fashion designers who prefer to  illustrate their creations and who possess a special talent that enables them to better communicate their vision in a unique and creative way. Most designers will hire a professional fashion illustrator to showcase their work for press purposes, for example, the illustration below is by fashion illustrator Janka Letková for Marc Jacobs. See the illustrator’s signature in small script along the vertical sash.

 

Janka Letková fashion illustration

Fashion illustrator Janka Letková for Marc Jacobs (Image Credit: iCanvas.com)

Other designers are more inclined to promote their work using their own unique style of illustration. Here a a few of the talented fashion designers who illustrate their own creations.

DIOR’S MARIA GRAZIA CHIURI

Maria Grazia Chiuri, the creative director for Dior, creates exquisite illustrations that are characterized by their romantic, ethereal quality. Her illustrations showcase the details and exquisite craftsmanship of her designs which adds an extra layer of depth and meaning to her work.

 

Maria Grazia Chiuri fashion illustration for Dior for Georgia tour

Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri fashion illustration for recording artist Georgia  for her 2019 tour (Image Credit: fashion press.it.com)

CHRISTIAN LACROIX

French fashion designer Christian Lacroix is also known for his illustration skills, which are characterized by their whimsical, and fantastical style. Lacroix’s illustrations often incorporate elements from art history, such as Rococo motifs and Baroque ornamentation. His illustrations showcase his unique creative vision and his ability to blend different styles and influences into his designs.

Fashion Illustrations by Christian Lacroix (Image Credit: Pinterest.com)

ALBER ELBAZ

Alber Elbaz, the former creative director of Lanvin who sadly passed away on April 24, 2021, was known for his playful and  cartoonish style. His illustrations often featured exaggerated proportions with bright, bold colors and were used to promote his collections. His illustrations were considered artwork in their own right.

A fashion illustration by Alber Elbaz for Lanvin (Image Credit: Pinterest.com) 

CHRISTIAN SIRANO

Christian Siriano is a designer who has built a successful career by creating clothing that celebrates diversity and inclusivity. He is also an accomplished illustrator whose illustrations are playful, yet with a sense of drama and impact. Siriano is one of the designers who sells his limited-edition illustrations, ranging from $75-$1,200, on his website ChristianSiriano.com.

Christian Siriano showing his limited edition fashion illustrations

Christian Siriano showing his limited edition fashion illustrations (Photo Credit: ChristianSiriano.com)

JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER

Jean-Paul Gaultier is a designer known for his daring, unconventional designs. He is also an accomplished illustrator. Gaultier’s illustrations often feature precise, graphic lines, like the one below that he did for Madonna’s MDNA 2012 tour.

fashion illustration by Jean Paul Gaultier 2012

Fashion illustration by Jean Paul Gaultier for Madonna’s MDNA Tour 2012

Looking for more info on fashion illustration as collectable items, view our blog from March 14, 21, entitled Looking For a Hot Investment Tip? Try Collectioning Fashion Illustrations.

With the advent of computer-assisted design, fashion illustration has become a luxury for most fashion designers these days. However, at UoF we still promote hand drawn fashion through our Fashion Art discipline consisting of 27 Beginner, 39 Intermediate and 17 Advanced lessons. We teach how to draw, render and illustrate fashion design and accessories and so it’s no wonder that we are head-over-heels excited to see the Lagerfeld show at the MET. Viva La Fashion Illustration!  Viva Lagerfeld!

SO TELL US, DO YOU KNOW OF OTHER FASHION DESIGNERS THAT CAN ILLUSTRATE?

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT’S ALL THE BUZZ BEHIND THIS YEAR’S SPRING 2023 COUTURE SEASON?

- - Fashion Shows

Looks from Viktor & Rolf’s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Victor & Rolf)

I don’t know about you, but my phone hasn’t stop blowing up ever since Paris couture season started Monday, January 23rd. Haute Couture week kicked off with an unrecognizable, red-crystal-covered Doja Cat attending the Schiaparelli in a head-to-toe 30,000 red Swarovski crystals outfit. The rapper later showed up at the Viktor and Rolf show with eyebrows, a mustache, and a soul patch made from lashes. Looks like the place to be and be seen is Paris Couture Week. So, if anyone thinks couture is dead…think again!

Doja Cat wearing a red Swarovski crystal outfit

Rapper Dojo Cat wearing a Swarovski crystal-encrusted outfit (Image Credit: Marc Piasecki for Getty Images)

Haute Couture, translated as “high sewing” or “high dressmaking,” is a term that is reserved for the most exclusive and expensive garments in the fashion industry. These garments are custom-made for individual clients and are crafted by the most skilled ‘petits mains’ in the business by some of the most renown fashion houses in the world. The question of whether Haute Couture is still relevant today is a complex one, as it touches on issues of craftsmanship, artistry, exclusivity, and luxury. On one hand, Haute Couture represents the highest level of craftsmanship and artistry in the fashion industry, using the finest materials and employing techniques that are nearly extinct. The level of attention to detail and the quality of the finished product is unmatched in the fashion world and yet, in today’s fashion world, where climate change, sustainability, and attempts at reducing landfills is front and center, what purpose does the couture really serve?  If you ask fashion pundits and the fashion flock, you’ll hear that “haute couture is seen as a celebration of the art of fashion and the skills of the people who create it”. And so, it’s no wonder that a brand like Victor & Rolf, whose couture show this season caused such a controversy with their topsy-turvy, upside down and sideways dresses was a huge hit that nearly broke the internet.

In celebration of the art & craft of haute couture, University of Fashion’s social media channels (Facebook  –  Instagram) is featuring some of its couture sewing techniques this week so that you can see just how special the ‘petits mains’ are (little hands) that create these fabulous clothes. Watch as we demo how to make handmade flowers as seen on the runway at Elie Saab, the hand-rolled sheer hems at Victor & Rolf, how to sew lace side seams from Chanel and the art of tambour beading from Valentino.

Looks from Chanel’s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Style Du Monde)

In addition to craft appreciation, Haute Couture is about fantasy. And in today’s topsy-turvy world, who doesn’t need an escape hatch? To those who can afford the price tag, Haute Couture is seen as a symbol of wealth and status, for the rest of us, it’s about fantasy and honoring the art, craft and amazing techniques that are used in their creation. Haute Couture collections inspire ready-to-wear fashion designers and although the materials and craftsmanship are well beyond reach for ready-to-wear brands, ideas often trickle down to the mass market, influencing trends within the broader fashion industry.

A look from Elie Saab’s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

So, when you hear the buzz about whether the couture is relevant today, in a world where fast fashion and the pressure to consume less is front and center, think of Haute Couture as a living art museum where the most talented people in the world dedicate their lives to preserving a craft, creating art-to-wear pieces that are not mass-produced and sold to stores by the dozens. In sharp contrast to the fast-paced, consumerist culture of today, couture clothes are meant to last a lifetime, will never end up in a landfill – more likely in a museum – and are meant to be passed down to future generations. Viva la Haute Couture!

Here are a few of the most dramatic moments of the Spring 2023 Couture Season:

A look from Iris van Herpen’s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

SCHIAPARELLI

Looks from Schiaparelli’s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Hypebeast)

Daniel Roseberry blew up the internet with his fake Schiaparelli taxidermy pieces for his Spring 2023 Couture show.

CHRISTIAN DIOR

Looks from Christian Dior’s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Grazia)

Maria Grazia Chiuri was inspired by archival pictures of Josephine Baker performing at Dior couture in 1951 New York. Baker was a leading light of the Jazz Age cabaret in Paris.

GIAMBATTISTA VALLI

Looks from Giambattisa Valli ‘s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Perfect Wedding Magazine)

Giambattisa Valli is living la vita dolce with a couture collection filled with beautiful colors and plenty of optimism for brighter days ahead.

CHANEL

Looks from Chanel’s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Elle)

Virginie Viard played circus ringmaster for her charming Chanel Couture show with a menagerie of mobile animal sculptures and all.

ARMANI PRIVÉ

Looks from Armani Prive’s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Style Du Monde)

Giorgio Armani can surely use a lesson in editing as the designer sent out 77 looks for his Armani Privé Couture collection that was inspired by harlequins.

RONALD VAN DER KEMP

A look from Ronald van der Kemp’s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Ronald van der Kemp has taken sustainability to a new level as he turned repurposed deadstock into a glamourous and fun couture collection.

VICTOR & ROLF

A look from Viktor & Rolf’s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Rolf Snoeren and Viktor Horsting, the duo behind the label Viktor & Rolf sent out a delightfully topsy – turvy collection.

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER

A look from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Haider Ackerman is the fourth designer to create a one-season collaboration for the house of Jean Paul Gaultier since Gaultier’s retirement. For his couture collaboration, Ackerman created a chic line-up filled with the body-sharp tailoring and scissored draping for which he has become known.

VALENTINO

A look from Valentino’s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Inspired by the 1980’s club scene, from Studio 54 to London’s New Romantic Blitz Club, Pierpaolo Piccioli, the designer behind Valentino, offered a youthful take by literally taking couture to the club.

FENDI

A look from Fendi’s Spring 2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Kim Jones created a ravishingly delicate collection for his Fendi Couture runway show with plenty of lingerie-inspired pieces.

So tell us, when you look at couture do you appreciate the craft and consider it art?

THE MAGIC OF COUTURE: FALL 2022-2023 SHOWS

 

Looks from Valentino’s Fall 2022 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

Tired of a world gone mad? Can’t watch the news or scroll down your phone for fear you’ll see one more upsetting thing? Well, get ready to enter the land of dreams, Haute Couture to the rescue! In one of the best couture seasons in recent memory, designers answered the call by delivering the very best in fantasy, feathers and the phantasmagorical.

For years, fashion followers have asked the question, “is Haute Couture still relevant in today’s day and age”? And, while many articles have been written about the ‘imminent death’ of couture, today, nothing could be further from the truth. Haute Couture is alive, well and thriving as it now appeals to a new generation of clients. The one-of-a-kind creations are no longer exclusively for the aristocratic old-moneyed doyennes, even if the cost of buying these clothes lies within reach of the extremely wealthy ‘one- percenters’.

Kim Kardashian, Nicole Kidman and Dua Lipa Walked The Runway At Balenciaga’s Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Balenciaga)

The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (the regulating commission that determines which fashion houses are eligible to be true haute couture houses) sets strict criteria for its classifications of couture, counting just 14 members alongside a host of guest designers each season. As of 2022, there are only 14 fashion houses that are considered couture, such as Dior, Chanel, and Givenchy. Although a lot has changed in the fashion world since the establishment of the House of Worth and La Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the qualifications of a couture fashion house have not changed. Despite the old rules, designers like Daniel Roseberry of Maison Schiaparelli and Pyer Moss’ Kerby Jean-Raymond, who showed for the first-time last season, are bringing a fresh point of view to couture.

Looks from Chanel’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Show. (Photo Credit: Chanel)

Truth is, there are only a handful of individuals around the world that could afford the couture level hyper-luxury price tag. And, it’s also a fact that most houses shy away from publishing their prices. For example, a gown from Valentino’s Haute Couture runway show can cost approximately $95,000, and that is one without intricate embroidery or beading. As the old saying goes…”“If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it” ~ U.S. financier J.P. Morgan (1837 – 1913).

While the cost may be out of reach for most of us, one can at least appreciate Haute Couture, which at its best, is fashion where true artistry and craft are allowed to shine without the restrictions of commercialism. Haute Couture is a celebration those rare skills that we at the University of Fashion LOVE so much. We hope that the couture will be preserved for generations to come, as the ateliers employ thousands of specialists, tailors and seamstresses, all of whom are master craftsmen and without the couture would be considered a dying art form.

A look from Iris van Herpen’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

For Jean-Noël Kapferer, a professor at the leading French business school HEC (Hautes Etudes Commerciales) and the author of several books about management in the luxury market, Haute Couture is definitely still relevant today. “It’s the sign of absolute luxury,” he explains. In a sector where differentiation is essential, it “offers luxury brands an additional means of influence. A Couture show is art. By extending the limits of what is and isn’t feasible, Couture gives Houses a way of creating emotion, and of reawakening desire and the ability to dream – which is essential, as the latter inevitably starts to fade in the face of commercial success.” The challenge is to transform desire into action, and want into purchases, particularly for the benefit of other product categories. “The aura of Haute Couture brings a glow to other activities and transforms the perception of a brand. If there is one area where the ‘trickle down’ effect actually works, it’s in Haute Couture! Its daring and creativity will benefit the ready-to-wear segment, as it allows Houses to set high prices and thereby increase their symbolic authority.”

Didier Grumbach, honorary president of France’s Haute Couture Federation (FHC) and a leading figure in the sector for over 50 years, recognizes this effect, having witnessed its impact from a close proximity. “Even if they never actually get worn, Haute Couture pieces increase the status of the House presenting them. In particular, Couture is a real help when it comes to launching a perfume offering.”

Couture’s ability to be in touch with its era is, of course, at the heart of its ability to create value. Claudia D’Arpizio, a luxury sector expert at consultants Bain & Co. points out, it is “in synch with today’s lifestyles. There is a desire for exquisite pieces that are no longer reserved for special occasions but can be worn for any occasion when that person wants to feel special, which might be in the daytime and not just the evening.” Moreover, Haute Couture embodies the very highest level of “the human touch, which can sometimes be lacking in the luxury sector.” Her point is shared by Jean-Noël Kapferer, who emphasizes how Haute Couture’s characteristics are modern, and a reflection of the aspirations of the younger generation: ultra-creative, ultra-personalized, sustainable, timeless, and experimental, with new forms, new materials, and new volumes.

Looks from Dior’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Laure Sciacovelli)

A BRIEF HISTORY OF HAUTE COUTURE

Haute Couture dates back to 1858, when designer Charles Frederick Worth, an English couturier based in Paris, created his “special House of new confections” at number 7, rue de la Paix. Worth was the first to create collections under his own signature, to see himself as a creator, and to present his collections by having the clothes worn by models who sauntered the floors of his luxurious salons. Worth was the first to offer new collections each season, he invented today’s fashion cycle: spring-summer and fall-winter. Within a few years, the foundations for Couture were laid, with the help of other pioneers such as Paul Poiret, the first to launch his own perfume House in 1911, Jeanne Lanvin, Jean Patou, Madeleine Vionnet and Gabrielle Chanel, who notably introduced the concepts of boutiques, accessories, and marketing. It was the start of a golden age of unprecedented creativity with exceptional know-how. However, the arrival of ‘ready-to-wear’ in the 1960s and 1970s challenged both the business model of Couture and its place in the world of fashion.

HAUTE COUTURE FALL 2022-2023 TRENDS

THE JEANPOOL

Haute Couture designers played with denim this season, as the “all American” favorite was found on everything from a feathered strapless dress to corseted suit.

A look from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Maison Margiela’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Ronald van der Kemp’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Balenciaga’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Schiaparelli’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

GREENDAY

Couture designers are seeing green this season as the hue made its mark all over the Paris runways. From emerald suits, to pistachio gowns, one thing is for sure, you’ll be going green this season.

A look from Balenciaga’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Alexis Mabille’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Chanel’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Giambattista Valli’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Schiaparelli’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Zuhair Murad’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

THE ROMANTICS

Frothy confections made their way into the Haute Couture collections as these dreamy numbers will make us all feel like royalty.

A look from Armani Privé’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Alexis Mabille’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Zuhair Murad’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Chanel’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Giambattista Valli’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

SHEER LEADERS

Designers had nothing to hide as they played up the transparency trend from utterly see-through to subtly sheer.

A look from Iris van Herpen’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Rahul Mishra’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Fendi’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Threeasfour’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Maison Margiela’s Fall 2022 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

SHIRT STORIES

The classic white button shirt gets a glamorous yet phantasmagorical make-over this season.

A look from Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Giambattista Valli’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Christian Dior’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Alexis Mabille’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

BROAD WAY

Power babes stalked the runways as they flaunted strong shoulder silhouettes on everything from mini dresses to jackets.

A look from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Armani Privé’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Elie Saab’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Giambattista Valli’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Rahul Mishra’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Ronald van der Kemp’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

FRINGE BENEFITS

Fringe was all over the couture runways, from Seventies inspired to futuristic motifs, these stringy looks are playful yet chic.

A look from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Zuhair Murad’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Giambattista Valli’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Elie Saab’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Armani Privé’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

BOUDOIR FAIRE

Innerwear-as-outerwear continues to intrigue designers as corset-inspired looks were found all over the couture runways.

A look from Schiaparelli’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Alexis Mabille’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Alexandre Vauthier’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Armani Privé’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

SHINE LANGUAGE

Silver and gold ruled the Fall 2022-2023 Couture runways. The metallic hues could be found on everything from dramatic evening dresses to bold jackets, and even sexy minidresses.

A look from Giambattista Valli’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Schiaparelli’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Julie de Libran’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Christian Dior’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Chanel’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Alexandre Vauthier’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. Photo (Credit Vogue: Runway)

GREEK REVIVAL

Calling all post-modern goddesses! The return of the elegant, draped gown is back and they are even more glamorous than ever.

A look from Alexandre Vauthier’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Schiaparelli’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

A look from Iris van Herpen’s Fall 2022-2023 Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue Runway)

So tell us, in today’s political, social, and economical climate, has couture lifted your spirits?

GOING LIVE IN PARIS: HAUTE COUTURE FALL 2021 SHOWS

- - Fashion Shows

The grand finale of Chanel’s fall 2021 couture show, featuring the actress Margaret Qualley. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Exciting news for fashion insiders, most of the Haute Couture 2021 shows in Paris were IRL (in real life) this season, as runway events began on Monday, July 5th. Haute couture shows are where the most whimsical and fanciful looks are to be found. They are the experimental breeding ground for designers to try out new ideas and design concepts.

These one-of-a-kind custom looks are constructed mostly by hand from start to finish. Each piece is made from high-quality, expensive and often unique fabric and then sewn together with extreme attention to detail, and then finished by THE most experienced and capable of artisans—often using hand-executed techniques.

An haute couture garment is a garment created for an individual client, tailored specifically to that customer’s measurements and will compensate for any body challenges (for example, one shoulder higher than the other, a rounded back, etc.). Considering the amount of time, money and skill allocated to each completed creation, these one-of-a-kind garments have an out-of-sight price tag. If you need to ask the price, you are considered tres gauche.

Haute couture in France, is a protected name that may not be used except by firms that meet certain well-defined standards. Only a select handful of labels can join the French couture calendar and enjoy the privilege of being considered an haute couture house.

A model walks the runway during the Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall 2021. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

For the first time since the global pandemic began, brands were able to host their shows in real life. As a result there was plenty of excitement, beginning with Jean Paul Gaultier’s special collaboration with Chitose Abe, the Artistic Director of the Japanese brand Sacai. These type of designer collabs aren’t new and you can’t help wonder if they weren’t inspired by the music industry who have been engaging in this type of  ‘talent/co-marketing’ for years, such as Micheal Jackson + Paul McCartney, Nelly + Tim McGraw, Rihanna + Eminem and Lil NAS X + Billy Ray. It’s a great way to broaden the fan base.

Models appear on a balcony at Jean-Paul Gaultier’s fashion house after the presentation of his Haute Couture Fall 2021 collection. (Photo Credit: Lewis Joly for AP)

Another anticipated show of this couture season was the welcoming of Pyer Moss to the calendar. The brand’s creative director Kerby Jean-Raymond, is the first Black American fashion designer to be welcomed into the couture fold. Jean-Raymond was officially invited by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (sadly, the outdoor show was postponed due to the Hurricane Elsa), but the runway extravaganza took place on Saturday in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The show was a fabulous lesson in black invention, black joy and black revolution.

A look from Pyer Moss’ first couture show. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Fashionistas were also anxiously waiting the return of Balenciaga Couture under the helm of Demna Gvasalia. Gvasalia surprised his audience when he chose Ella Emhoff, 21-year-old daughter of U.S.’s Second Gentleman, Doug Emhoff, and budding Bushwick fashion designer and model, to walk his runway.

Ella Emhoff modeling for the fall 2021 Balenciaga Couture Collection. (Photo Credit: Balenciaga)

Below, are some of the highlights of most anticipated collections from the haute couture fall 2021 season:

BALENCIAGA

Balenciaga’s Couture Fall 2021 show. Courtesy of Balenciaga on YouTube.

It has been 53 years since the house of Balenciaga presented an haute couture collection, so the anticipation was at an all-time high for followers of the fashion-forward label. Demna Gvasalia showcased his first couture collection at Cristóbal Balenciaga’s original couture salon, which today is fully restored to the original version. Aside from press and couture clients, Kanye West and Bella Hadid were seated in the much sought-after front row.

The collection was a balanced combination of men’s and women’s made-to-measure pieces, and paid tribute to Balenciaga’s respected couture history with a slew of direct references to the house’s founder, case-in-point, the initials ‘C.B.’ were hand-embroidered on silk ties, poplin shirts, and leather gloves. Another heritage look was included in the grand finale; a veiled bridal look which was inspired by one of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s creations, last shown 54 years ago.

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER BY SACAI

Jean Paul Gaultier by Sacai’s Couture Fall 2021 Video. Courtesy of Fashion Feed on YouTube.

Right before COVID-19 brought the world to a halt, the elusive designer Jean Paul Gaultier announced that he would be collaborating with Chitose Abe of Sacai for his fall 2021 couture collection. This genius collaboration will be part of a new and exciting tactic where Jean Paul Gaultier will team-up with a different designer each season. The outcome was met with great success.

This was Chitose Abe’s first time working in the world of couture and she brought her unique and avant garde aesthetic into Gaultier’s archives, breathing new life into some of his most iconic looks. Case-in-point, a corseted trench coat-inspired dress.

FENDI

 

Fendi’s Couture Fall 2021 film. Courtesy of Fendi on YouTube.

Kim Jones’ second couture collection for Fendi was presented through a beautiful fashion film directed by Luca Guadagnino. The film starred supermodel Kate Moss and was a celebration of “the eternal beauty of Rome”. The designer described the collection as “a contemporary connection between eras, cultures and aesthetics“.

Connecting eras, a meeting of the old with the new, the past with the present. The eternal beauty of Rome and its composite history are the protagonists of this haute couture show,” Fendi said.” A collection where nothing is quite as it seems.

ALAIA

Azzedine Alaïa’s Couture Fall 2021 and 2022 Show. Courtesy of Bayoucool2 on YouTube.

For his debut collection for Alaïa, Pieter Mulier – who is known for being Raf Simons’ right-hand man for years – presented a hybrid of couture and ready-to-wear. The collection paid homage to the house’s namesake designer and his original creations, but with a modern twist, turning the houses signature staples into something new and exciting.

The homage to the founder was a roll out of the houses signature pieces including body-sculpting knitwear, multi-strap corset belts, and hooded silhouettes. Mulier also transformed Alaïa staples like the white poplin shirt paired with his showstopping corsets, into his own translation of flowing tops cut away to reveal a triangle of solar plexus and were paired with bubble-hem maxi skirts or pleated minis.

Nine of the looks — including the cutaway tops — were couture, while most of the collection was ready to wear. Although Mulier presented during couture fashion week, the newly minted creative director prefers the two collections co-exist side by side as women might wear it, “without rules or boundaries“.

SCHIAPARELLI

Schiaparelli’s Couture fall 2021 show. Courtesy of FF Channel on YouTube.

For two years, I’ve been saying that I didn’t care about nostalgia,” creative director Daniel Roseberry said ahead of the reveal of Schiaparelli’s new couture collection in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. “This season, though, it’s where it all started. I found myself wondering, again and again: What if you combined a little Manet; a little Lacroix; a little 1980s; a little 1880s; a little matador; a little space alien; a little Ingres; a little shimmer; a lot of colour? Could I do it? And what would it look like? The answer is this, my fourth couture collection, ‘The Matador’.”

With his haute couture collection – which was presented in a video and lookbook format– Roseberry wanted to pay tribute to the house’s founder, and to celebrate the history, the beauty and the joy of fashion.

The young American couturier for Schiaparelli is the first American designer to hold the helm at a French couture house and is known for creating Surrealist fashion for the modern era.

Here’s what I want: No more cookie-cutter fashion,” he added in his show notes. “No more pieces that look like they could have been made by anyone. No more cynicism. No more irony. No more timidity. No more coolness. Give me more beauty, more earnestness, more romance, more effort. I hope this collection reminds everyone who encounters it of the sheer delight that fashion can bring us in hard times, and with it, the promise of more joy when the clouds part. Give me more fashion. Give me more hope.”

So tell us, what was your favorite couture collection?

The Magical & Technological World of Couture: Fall 2018

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of W Magazine)

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of W Magazine)

Need an escape from a world filled with political unrest, nuclear threats and terrorism? Enter…haute couture. Yeah, we know covering fashion, especially the world of couture, may seem frivolous to many, but couture is about dreaming, escapism and fantasy. Who wouldn’t want to live right now in a world of beautiful handmade gowns while running through a garden in Paris or engaging in a leisurely walk along the Seine?

But the truth is, couture is so much more than fantasy. Costume and fashion history would not be the same without it and let’s face it… couture is the ultimate marketing machine!

We need only look back in time to a publication written between 1751 and 1772 by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert entitled Encyclopédie, ou dictionaire raisonné des sciences, des art et des métiers, to see how this pivotal tome gave instructions to the métiers (trades) in the art of dressmaking, forever placing this trade on equal footing with the arts and sciences of the time.

And of course we owe the ‘Father of Couture,’ Englishman Charles Frederick Worth (Paris circa 1856 ), the fashion genius who together with his wife as muse, transformed the world of dressmaking into ‘high fashion’. Over time, the House of Worth, along with other couturières (female) and couturiers (male) were able to take the craft to a whole other level by creating perfumes, shoes, millinery and diffusion lines. These spin-offs planted the seeds which would later become lifestyle branding with lots of marketing hype!

 

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of W Magazine)

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of W Magazine)

We know that these one-of-a kind haute creations come with a hefty price tag. On average, one couture gown can take over 800 hours to create and cost several hundred thousand dollars. Even couture daywear starts at around $10,000! It’s estimated that there are only approximately 2,000 couture clients, mostly from Russia, China, the United States and the Middle East, with fewer than 300 that buy regularly.

So, do the numbers. With only a handful of steady customers, you got it…haute couture is not a money maker. Couture houses spend millions of dollars twice a year, by selecting exquisite fabrics, hand-sewing each garment, employing top métiers for beading and embroideries and producing larger-than-life runway shows, using A list models, hair and make-up teams. The profits are negligible, amounting to less than ten per cent of gross profits for some houses, though most operate at a loss. However, their true value is in the selling of the house’s fragrance, make-up line and other less-expensive branded items like shoes and handbags.

Draping Technique (Photos courtesy of Pinterest)

Draping Technique (Photos courtesy of Pinterest)

So why do these houses still invest in their haute couture collections, other than pushing their ancillary products? They are selling a dream. Fashion shows attract huge media attention and gain enormous publicity for the couture houses. Think about how many actresses wear couture on the red carpet. These designers are selling a dream of chic cachet, beauty, desirability and exclusiveness, that the ordinary person can ‘buy into.’

Here are some highlights of the Haute Couture Fall 2018 Season:

VALENTINO

Pierpaolo Piccioli has been on a role and his Valentino Couture show closed out Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris with rave reviews. This season Piccioli offered a brilliant line-up of rich saturated hues and swaggering proportions. According to Vogue.com, Piccioli stated, “Couture involves a deeper and more intimate perspective, to go further into your own vision of beauty.”  His vision was a perfect blend of Greek Mythology, 17th- and 18th-century painting, the films of Pasolini and the photographs of Deborah Turbeville, medieval armor, and Ziggy Stardust. Whew, that’s quite a line-up of inspiration, eh?

This translated into intricate embroidered capes, a multiple brocade evening dress adorned with rhinestones, sequins and pearls, a red sculpted jersey gown and a trio of featherweight taffeta dresses that wrapped around the body.

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Valentino Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

FENDI

How does a house known for its use of fur adapt to the changing landscape of the anti-fur movement? After all, major fashion houses such as Gucci, Versace and Michael Kors have all announced they would go fur free and use only faux fur in their collections. Fendi on the other hand, made no such promise, but did abandon their Haute Fur Show in favor of a couture show.

Though Fendi did include some fur pieces, what they also did was produce something much more creative than fur and faux fur (which by the way is also a major earth pollutant). They ingeniously manipulated textiles in such a way as to resemble real fur; case in point, a coat created with fine strips of chiffon that were frayed and stitched together so closely that it could have been easily mistaken for an intarsia’d mink. While there were plenty of real fur looks in the line-up, it was refreshing for a house like Fendi show alternatives. And oh, what a great upcycling concept!

Fendi Haute Couture faux fur Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fendi Haute Couture faux fur Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fendi Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Fendi Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER

Always known to break with tradition, Jean Paul Gaultier showed his haute couture collection on both male and female models as the versatility of the collection was genderless. With a strong emphasis on tailoring, his suits were oh so chic! Gaultier was able to take the iconic “Le Smoking” and update it for the 21st century.

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

MAISON MARGIELA

John Galliano has now taken to podcasting and for Margiela couture he stated that this is collection is “the raw, raw, undiluted essence, the parfum of the house.” Following in the footsteps of his Artisanal collection for men, Galliano presented a highly innovative, high-concept collection exposing the craftsmanship of haute couture –  literally – by revealing the exquisite stitching that goes into the construction of a hand-tailored jacket. The true genius of Galliano came through by layering garments between tubes of filmy nylon, thus creating what Vogue called “translucent fabric sandwiches.”

“We’re all nomads today,” added Galliano, “. . . we do move in tribes.” Galliano calls it “nomadic glamour.” Reminds us a bit of Yeohlee and her “Urban Nomads” collection, only this time, on steroids!

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Maison Margiela Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

ARMANI PRIVE

Ahhhh, and then there was Armani. Known for his master tailoring and Red Carpet artistry, the fall Armani Privé collection didn’t disappoint.  Armani’s press notes noted “A sculptural, almost regal style.”  The first half of the show (there were almost 100 looks in all), was a sea of black and champagne-colored pantsuits and evening looks, all that captured the chic essence of Armani beautifully. However, in an attempt to keep up with the times, half-way through the show Armani switched gears and sent out electric hues in everything from an ostrich feather cape to a hot pink and turquoise pantsuit that was a complete disconnect to the first half of the show. Go Armani!

Armani Prive Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Armani Prive Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Armani Prive Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Armani Prive Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

CHANEL

We fashionistas can always count on Karl Lagerfeld to create a wonderful backdrop for his Chanel collection. And for this collection he did not disappoint by sending his models for stroll along the Seine with its wide sidewalks and low stone walls framing the magnificent Institut de France, built by Louis le Vau for Cardinal Mazarin in the 1660s (and where the Academie Française is housed). Perhaps with age, Lagerfeld is feeling a bit reflective about his first days in Paris as an 18-year old. In an interview with Vogue before the show, Lagerfeld remembered a city still suffering from postwar neglect, with dirty streets and dark, unrestored buildings. “People said to my parents, ‘but he can get lost,’” he added. “My mother knew better: I had a strong survivor instinct!”

The collection was filled with the House’s signature tweeds all in shades of grey. There were plenty of long skirts that unzipped to reveal sexy miniskirts adorned with magnificent embroideries. Lagerfeld also showed a silver foil ball gown skirt, a bevy of chic jackets and plenty of transparent chiffon pleated eveningwear.

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Chanel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

CHRISTIAN DIOR

After years of over the top glamour and in your face sex appeal at Dior, at the hands of Raf Simons and John Galliano, the tide seems to be turning toward a more minimalistic approach to fashion. At the forefront of this evolutionary change is Maria Grazia Chiuri. Her couture 2018 collection involved some feminist research.  She read up on Leonor Fini, one of the avant-garde artists Christian Dior chose to exhibit in the gallery he was involved with before becoming a couturier. The results were beautiful, somber, sculpted and pleated pieces that were way more complex than what met the eye. These were serious clothes. Only a seasoned designer like Chiuri knows how to design clothes, utilizing the talents of finest ‘hands’ in the business, that will attract the most discerning couture clients. Chiuri showed cashmere suits, simple strapless gowns that grazed the ankle, effortless pleated dresses and demure eveningwear.  This collection is timeless and elegant yet modern and refreshing. A hit!

Christian Dior Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Christian Dior Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

SONIA RYKIEL

For the past 50 years, the name Sonia Rykiel has been associated with fun, lighthearted knitwear. This season, designer Julie de Libran presented the first Sonia Rykiel couture collection. And, staying true to the Rykiel code, presented a collection with the same joie de vivre that the house’s founder was known for.

Gone from this collection were the traditional evening gowns that epitomize the world of couture. Instead, de Libran presented a youthful and edgy line-up. Looks ranged from a striped hand-beaded off the shoulder Marinière sweater to a black sweater dress with a trompe l’oeil bikini embroidery and a bridal corset look with front-lacing, a feathered knit veil and blue jeans. Surely de Libran is a couture disruptor but is this collection really worthy of being called couture?

Sonia Rykiel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Sonia Rykiel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Sonia Rykiel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Sonia Rykiel Haute Couture Runway Look (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

IRIS VAN HERPEN

Always a fashion renegade, Iris van Herpen decided to show her couture collection at the Galerie de Minérologie et de Géologie, a fitting choice, since the name of this collection was “Ludi Naturae,” translated from Latin, “nature play.”

However, Van Herpen’s idea of nature flirts with synthetic biology through her iconic laser-cutting techniques and 3-D printed illusion fabric innovations, which she has taken to new heights and labels it “syntopia.” To quote van Herpen: “I think we as humans don’t even come close to the intelligence within nature. It’s funny how people think that nature is simple and technology is complex—it’s the opposite; technology is simple and nature is complex.”

Known for her artist collaborations, this time it was Amsterdam-based artist duo Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta of Studio Drift who created the backdrop her runway ‘science fantasy. She also partnered with Dutch sculptor Peter Gentenaar who is known for capturing ‘organic memory’ and motion through his delicate, large-scale cellulose sculptures,  and together they created a show that was ‘other-worldly.’

Considered fashion’s ‘futurist-in-residence,’ couture season would be incomplete without Iris van Herpen and her vision.

Iris van Herpen's Fall 2018 Couture Show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Iris van Herpen’s Fall 2018 Couture Show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Iris van Herpen's Fall 2018 Couture Show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

Iris van Herpen’s Fall 2018 Couture Show (photo courtesy of Vogue.com)

 

DO YOU THINK THE SONIA RYKIEL COLLECTION MERITS COUTURE STATUS? IF SO, WHY?

 

 

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?