Fall 2013 Couture: Chanel

“On the way from the Old World to the New World” was the theme of Karl Lagerfeld’s latest couture collection for Chanel. Never one to shy away from theatrics, the post-apocalyptic stage setting at the Grand Palais encompassed the feeling perfectly – the old being represented as a crumbling theatre and the new as an inter-galactic cityscape, sparkling amongst the ruins. This old/new juxtaposition continued in the clothes, starting off with signature tweed suits – embroidery representing actual tweeds – with portrait necklines, and old era silhouettes (Victorian, Edwardian, you name it).

This was Karl’s mix of “tradition with future”. The medieval tunics, layered underneath cropped jackets all over thigh-high swede boots (so thin they had to be held up by garters), were mixed with new-world fabrics, 3-D effects and glittery sequins. Described by Karl as the “sparkle of stardust”, there were pavéed sequins, tweeds with Lurex, silvered grey flannel, lamé, and mirrors to create this new world feel amongst the traditional period proportion and detailing of the new world.

The beautiful detailing was even more intricate when taking a closer look at the pieces. For example, the tiled panel of the straight A-Line dress was based on origami with hundreds of squares made with tiny folds of coloured chiffon (see above) – the epitome of what a couture collection is all about – the exquisite detailing that only les petit mains could manage to create to perfection. Ending off with evening-wear – the dresses were breathtaking in liquid silver, dowager black-tulle and strips of silver and black beading on delicate silk. Always pressing forward and looking to the future – Karl delivered yet another beautiful collection – surely to be seen on many red carpets – and if this is the vision of the future, I wouldn’t mind it at all.

Fall 2013 Couture – Christian Dior

For his third couture collection for Dior (exactly a year since taking the role of creative director) Raf Simons took his audience beyond the Parisienne walls of the Avenue Montaigne and sent them on a multi-cultural journey across the world. Simons commented:

“This collection evolved to be about Dior, not just being about Paris and France, but about the rest of the world and how many fashion cultures impact on the house and on myself” 

Influences of Asia, the Americas and even African masai were evident in the pure fabrics, bold stripesbright colours, and tribal patterns. There were peplum flaps attached to the iconic Bar jacket, mirroring the layers of a Japanese kimono – showing that Simons is keeping to his well-known signatures, yet confidently evolving them every season.

Other Raf-signatures such as houndstooth and black wool-day dresses and strapless numbers were all present, however almost unrecognisable amongst the worldly themes influencing them this season. The pieces were beautifully adorned with African beadwork or sculpted with tulip hems. African flags, Japanese Obi belts and dresses were featured throughout – this was Dior as seen through the eyes of an African tribeswoman or Japanese Geisha.

Described by style.com’s Tim Blanks as a “different kind of dynamic in couture”, it was clear that Simons sought to show the house of Dior as part of a global fashion culture, rather than being so closely associated with Paris, as couture so often is.

The variety of it all was said by some to be hard to make sense of, however the mix was everything, the essence and underlying message of the collection. Simons may have been breaking boundaries by straying away from convention – yet the Dior tradition wasn’t lost: the former founder himself was a self-confessed internationalist. In addition, as an homage to the old master Dior, Simons reproduces two dresses from the original house each collection.

This new couture, in my eyes, is truly welcomed as a refreshing take on classic haute-couture traditions. Simons noted, “If we don’t adapt to what women in society are now about, couture might disappear”. So maybe it’s this adapting modernity that will save it — thinking about couture as taking fashion tradition and making it relevant to different cultures (and prospective clients, because what is couture without its clients?!)

Either way, all I can say is once again Simons has amazed us – and will no doubt continue to do so.

Fall 2013 Couture : Atelier Versace

“You know – just impeccable clothes” – Donatella Versace

Donatella goes classy, channelling old-hollywood glamour in her latest couture collection for Versace. Inspiring the collection was the “Horst and Man Ray” era of the thirties, described by the designer herself as a moment of precision, perfection, and lots of work.

She opened the show having Naomi Campbell strut down the catwalk for the first time since Gianni’s death in 1997 – clad in crystal hooks and sequins with peep-through lingerie – which surely set the scene for the rest of the show.

The signature chez Versace body-con silhouette still remained, however there was an heir of new-found confidence in the collection – evolving from previous shows.

Strong crocodile tailoring in the structured skirt suits was beautifully evident in the skin-tight leather or open-cut panels in the front or back, revealing embroidered bustiers underneath. The leather dyed garnet, navy blue and green – cut through with sequinned embroidery and some lined with shaved mink – the pinnacle of luxury couture fur.

There is no question about the underlying theme of the show (not surprising for Versace): skin! Cropped sweaters, open cut-work, deep naval-touching necklines in the jumpsuits and thigh-high slits; there was no shortage of flesh being shown but unlike previous shows, it was done in a more tasteful way –  The hooks and eyes left areas of fabric to strategically peel back across torsos and backs, revealing delicate black corsetry and tulle cutaway bodysuits.

My favourites were the long corseted evening dresses – the one with the illusion neckline, embroidered black and midnight blue tulle and sequins – and the jumpsuit worn by Lindsay Wixon, panelled from lace, net, and hand-woven leather. (see above)

With every model wearing diamond jewellery designed by the house, the hollywood glamour shone through with the sexiness of skin and intricate, laborious detailing —> Keeping to Versace roots… but ever so elegantly evolving.

Photos: GoRunway/ InDigital – Style.com