Paris Couture Is Alive and Well

The catwalks of the past were filled with rail thin thoroughbreds with a few normal body types peppered in. But now designers are embracing diverse representation in every way and it is evident in Paris at the Haute Couture shows.
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Fashion people are more than ready for a return to dressing up but covid has other ideas. Since it seems the virus will be an ongoing part of our lives we might as well start the party up and learn to make it work. The Haute Couture fashion shows in Paris did just that with creativity reigning over the complacency of dress down culture. This season though, designers embraced more fully the inclusion of different body types and ages on the runway usually relegated to the RTW shows. The catwalks of the past were filled with rail thin thoroughbreds with a few normal body types peppered in. But now designers are embracing diverse representation in every way and it is evident in Paris at the Haute Couture shows.

Valentino

Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino had more than half of the models representing a broader population. He explained in an interview with Vogue Runway that he was able to do this by changing the design process. Instead of one fit model, who is used to create the all the garments, he employed 10 fit models in his studio in a variety of shapes. This simple change of process allowed him to cast a broader swath of runway model so the viewer would be able to see herself reflected in the look.

 I wanted to break these rules and embrace the idea of different proportions of body, different sizes, different ages,” says Picciolo in an interview with Vogue.

Kristen McMenamy, the 90’s supermodel opened the show looking as wide-eyed as ever which made a strong statement for anti-ageism in modeling. Models now have a longer lifespan in that world with the opening up of sizing and more acceptance of differences. As far as the looks, the overall palette was scaled back to black and white with a few pops of color sprinkled into the collection and the silhouettes were as varied as the models.

https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2022-couture/valentino

Schiaparelli

The talented Daniel Roseberry’s designs for Schiaparelli are at the pinnacle of fashion creativity. He’s a favorite of celebrities because his creations are more like wearable art than anything else. Most recently Kanye West escorted Julia Fox to this very show wearing Schiaparelli RTW which was a modest denim outfit—unlike his couture. But for couture, Mr Roseberry holds nothing back—the creativity is off the charts and the execution is perfection.

Because of the difficult few years the world is enduring, Roseberry is thinking about other worlds— outside of our planet as an escape. As billionaires head to space in an effort to further exploration so did Schiaparelli. To that end his Haute Couture runway included truly exceptional designs with a nod to celestial worlds.

Gold jewelry orbits around the model’s head anchored from a metal bustier, and a golden sun-ray clad model are just 2 of the outstanding looks in this collection. A swirling effect in mammoth sized earrings, jewelry, necklines, hats and head gear, echos the orbital theme of the show.

Chanel

Chanel recently reported that profits are up in the first half of 2021 by double digits (reported in WWD). Fun fact—they don’t sell their clothing or leather goods on line—very different from other luxury brands. They also didn’t downsize their staff during the pandemic but stayed the course until the emergency subsided. Their strategy seems to be working for them as Chanel is as desirable as ever.

For their Haute Couture presentation, Virginie Viard continues to put her stamp on the house while respecting the original codes. Princess Grace of Monaco’s granddaughter, Charlotte Castraghi, opened the show, cantering with a live horse on the minimalist set of the runway. A grouping of tweedy pantsuits were the first looks with cinched jackets and ankle ties, followed by jacket dresses also in Chanel tweed. Evening looks had sheer waist panels using mixed media effect of 3 distinctly different fabrics. The gowns had a loose column look like the 1920’s while mixed fabrications seemed to be a theme in many looks with brocades mixing with tweets and sheers.

Ms Viard’s used feathers, fringe and dropped waist to evoke a light 1920’s vibe. The show ended with a white bride look whose headband was popular in the1920’s and can easily be interpreted for brides looking for a new take on a headpiece for their wedding.

There is a loser more breezy vibe to Ms Viard’s Chanel and this collection is another example.

https://wwd.com/business-news/financial/chanel-sales-operating-profit-2020-1234845537/

Elie Saab

Lebanese designer Elie Saab’s world is bursting with bright colors and optimism with his spring ” Garden of Eden” collection. The stunning ball gowns, column gowns and other traditional shaped gowns are always a crowd pleaser and a staple on the red carpet with starlets and celebs. He used embroidery and floral motifs which played into the garden theme but some of the models wore crystal cage masks to add an edge to the parade of beauty.

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