Haute Couture: Christian Dior a/w 2012-13

“A shift is happening” – words spoken by the man himself, Raf Simons, making his debut as new creative director at the most anticipated fashion show, well…ever?!

I mean just take a look at the list of designer attendees: Marc, Donatalla, Ricardo Tisci, van Assche, von Furstenburg (to name a very small few!). Ana Wintour was overheard speaking to Grace Coddington before the show about how amazing it all is – regarding the flowers a classic Dior obsession (and rumoured to have numbered in the millions) – covering the walls of the 5 private salons  in which the collection was shown: delphiniums in the blue room, mimosas in the yellow, and orchids in the white…you get the idea.

Looking at the photos, it really was a sight to be seen. Simons went straight back to ultra-feminine Dior roots, analysing the codes interpreted by Dior in his time, yet mixed in his own signature minimalism (would you expect anything less?) – a strong and promising start for the iconic brand.

Look No 1 set the tone of tradition with a black wool tuxedo jacket and matching cigarette pants.. repeatedly used throughout the show with bustiers, series of cut-out dresses, and ballooning evening gowns – big stand out favourites.

The archived research was clearly evident in the Dior Red cashmere “Bar” coat with a Dior basque on the hips and a black tulle bustier evening dress with beautiful blue velvet embroidery – inspired by the “Esther” dress from a/w 1952 Haute Couture (both shown above).

There was also classic Dior tweed reworked in a grey Prince of Wales checked wool jacket and skirt and (of course) the stand out white organza dress – intricately embroidered with Pointillists degradé chiffon, hundreds of tiny confetti reproducing the flowers inspired by the original Miss Dior dress.

The selection of furs in astrakhan and mink in electric colours showed the decadence of the couture creations and were definitely among the other noted favourites on my fantasy couture wish-list! Joining the striking blues and bright crimsons were pale pinks and pastels, some injected through the embroidered feathers on the evening dresses – another traditional aspect to add to the rest!

Finally, ending the amazing display of mastery, was a long organza and tulle dress with a pink embroidered front and blue floral embroidered back – a remake of the historical Dior designs paired with futuristic interpretations by Simons.

Just absolutely breathtakingly beautiful and classic Dior. Some of the pieces did remind me of Raf’s last collection for Jill Sander, especially the long draped evening gowns (although they lacked the ability to bring a tear to my eye like the Sander show.. it really was amazing!) and maybe I was expecting something a little more shocking, what with all the hype and anticipation around the show. Nonetheless, it was a strong and promising start to Simons’ career at the eponymous label: unmistakably beautiful, feminine and soft – and I just cannot get over those trousers!

Raf Simons’ showcase of Dior’s New Look (pun intended!) really was exquisite and definitely does embody the definition of the day, described as “a blueprint” by the creative director himself. 

Haute Couture: Atelier Versace a/w 2012-13

I’m back from a minor break this spring due to various technical difficulties and a little exam distraction BUT all is right with the world as i’ve decided to pick Couture Week to start it all off again… and with Donatella’s collection for Atelier Versace, what a start it has been!

With a celebrity packed front row at the Ritz Paris – home to Gianni Versace’s couture shows for 8 years – the traditional sentiments within the pieces were unsurprising and full of class, including pastel chain mail, hip-high slits (i’m assuming these will be Angelina and Anya’s favourites for showing off those mile long legs!), and scarf prints on sculpted body-con micro minis – signature Versace sexiness!

Lindsey Wixson opened the show in an A-line trench constructed from thin strips of ivory patent, woven through rose gold buckles, her waist cinched with a belt that took everyone straight back to the recent men’s collection. As the show continued, the game of peek-a-boo became bolder with slashes of skin on beaded evening dresses joined together with tiny strands of crystals or silk chiffon – daring yet not quite overstepping onto the road to tacky.

Tiny circles and hexagons were hand cut out of leather (as seen on the baby yellow trench, one of my favourites) showcasing the exquisite detail seen throughout the pieces. The woman represented was a “sexy, strong warrior” according to Jessica Alba, and Christopher Kane even suggested that Donatella herself should have modelled – which she could have with those minuscule waists much like her own!

Being her second couture catwalk since 2004, Donatella described the process of coming back as “very emotional” after having previously stopped showing Versace’s couture collections on the catwalk seven years ago. I was a little unimpressed with the initial collection, it didn’t really rub me the right way, so my expectations were wary whilst awaiting the second…

This season’s collection however was softer, more feminine and less “in-your-face” than the last one… Compared to the bright neons and acidic colours, combined with the architectural structure of last season’s pieces, Sunday’s show was much softer by sticking to a simple, clean colour palette of sorbet shades & jewel tones (which masterfully matched the rings worn on the index fingers of the models, made from yellow diamonds, emeralds and topazes – ah yes, the eye for detail…) and was a lot easier to take in. Sure, it may not have emanated the “strong, powerful woman” in such an obvious way, but the effect was still there within its own subtlety (possibly even in fuller force).

“Ultra sexy and feminine” & “signature Donatella but really updated” – the words of British Vogue’s fashion director, Lucinda Chambers – effectively sums it up and the verdict is in… a strong and beautiful start to the week. I mean really – what’s not to like?!