Spring/Summer 2014 Paris Couture Week showed the world couture in a different light altogether.
The genre is no longer circumscribed within the confines of ceremonial elegance and traditional formal elements — sophisticated delicate ball gowns moved alongside sporty trainers and daring corsets on the runways, and what unfolded demonstrated the superior refinement and artistic dignity that is the soul of couture. There was a mix of classic and contemporary, and also some stand-out styles we’d like to see infiltrate the high street and red carpet for the summer.
First came low kitten heels, then came gladiator flats, and then we had masculine loafers. Most recently, raging popular lace-up booties made an appearance as well. Consequently, common sense would dictate trainers would be the next on the list of hot footwear trends. If you didn’t see it coming, we wouldn’t blame you.
In keeping with the sports luxe fad, Chanel flooded the Paris runway with disco glitter and white sneakers to match their spritely pastel candy tweed skirts. Karl Lagerfeld wasn’t the only one in an athletic frame of mind, Christian Dior also mixed in some trainers wanting to ‘liberate couture’ for the youth. We suspect at least the models were grateful to trade in their heels for comfort.
Skirting the rules:
The micro miniskirts at Giambattista Valli were another rule breaker at Couture Week. However, Valli ingeniously redecorated the eyebrow raising silhouette with skillful peplum layers and beautiful fabric folds, defusing the shock factor and instilling couture worthy modesty. We hope to see the complex voluminous cut find its way to watered down high street versions.
Armani Prive, Atelier Versace
While we would expect to see Atelier Versace pull off hooded couture in a way that was feminine and powerful at the same time, head scarves were also spotted at Armani Privé to accessorise a collection that was all class. Using silk tie fabrics in night blues and slate greys, Armani created a new dimension, where gypsy styling met with smart upscale blazers and glossy pleated soft trousers. We wonder if we might see hooded heads and trainers on the next round of award ceremonies’ red carpets.
More brazen than the miniskirts at Valli were the intrepid leather and silk corsets at Alexander Vauthier and Ulyana Sergeenko. Corset tops are having a major fashion moment in prêt wear.
This 18th century article of clothing, which represented control and restrictions placed on women, has since been reinvented to be synonymous with high power edgy fashion. It has now also penetrated couture.
Elie Saab, Valentino, Zuhair Murad
Lifelike, fluttering floral origami appliqué bouquets danced in 3D on fairytale dresses by Elie Saab, while complex forests of butterflies and florals were seen in more dramatic fashion by Valentino. The cut-work appliqué technique is a great form of embellishment to fight weighty bling. Viewing the frothy blossoms we were reminded of leading local high street fashion house Sheep and their prêt wear, involving the expert technique. Extending origami applique from couture to western prêt wear wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Valentino, Armani Prive, Valentino, Zuhair Murad
Some of the older trends continued to evolve at Couture Week. Boho, unfinished fringe and tassels along with demure kaftans were spotted at Valentino. Ingenious pleats in structured and fluid trousers soared at Armani Privé. They were also employed for tulle dresses that deserved a standing ovation at Vauthier. Also, beautifully crafted head-to-toe dreamy lace and sheers mesmerized at Valentino, Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2014.
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