It’s Couture, darling

03/02/2016 11:51 PM

By Flora Naughtie

It’s not hard to realise the painstaking artisan work that goes into each collection in Paris for the Haute Couture. The hours spent dreaming up the designs and the hours spent implementing them – by hand from start to finish – goes far beyond the mass-produced, ready to wear fashion of today.
Ulyana Sergeenko’s two slip dresses – reported by Vogue to have taken five months each to create – illustrate the severity with which designers approach couture week and how tightly the quality is regulated by it’s governing body, the Syndicate Chamber of Haute Couture.

Ulyana Sergeenko Summer 2016 Haute Couture Paris
Ulyana Sergeenko SS 2016, Haute Couture Paris

The work produced this season emphatically belongs to, and upholds, the illustrious tradition of haute couture that stretches back to the early 18th century. Standout pieces from Yacine Aouadi, a newcomer to the couture roster, included an abundance of floral appliqués.
Elie Saab’s collection comprised feminine lace and embroidery pushing the boundaries to a new height of luxe extravagance.
Maison Martin Margiela under John Galliano paid tribute to the late David Bowie with a clear glam-rock edge – think knee high glittering boots and asymmetrical hair and make-up.


Elie Saab Spring Summer 2016 fashion show during Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week on January 27, 2016 in Paris, France.


Gigi Hadid at the Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2016, Photographed by Kevin Tachman.

What matters and creates talking points is not just the garments themselves but also the increasingly adventurous settings in which they are presented. Notable as always was Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel: a Doll’s house presenting the models in compartments. The equally inventive Jean Paul Gaultier took his inspiration from the infamous Le Palace nightclub, the models smoked, drank and high-fived as they walked.

Cool work while you can get it.


Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda SS16

03/07/2013 2:08 PM

Couture Queens

There’s more couture in Paris this week than there has been for a decade. Giambattista Valli riffed on porcelain, Sevres, Wedgewood et al and Dior threw up images of the collection photographed earlier that day by Patrick Demarchelier, Terry Richardson and Paolo Reversi as backdrop and produced Brit beauty Gemma Arterton and Jennifer Lawrence on a front row packed with chic stars. Schiaperelli has been reborn under the pencil and scissors of Christian Lacroix who’d bowed out from the business four years past but was returned for a one-off season for the re-birth of this label. Shocking! Meanwhile Chanel showed in a Grand Palais deconstructed into a ruined, bombed out theatre, with a view of a futuristic city seen in the distance beyond the rubble. Derelicte! There was nothing ‘derelicte’ about a collection, shown yesterday, in which thousands of hours of expertise produces a price point of hundreds of thousands of pounds. The show was even held twice to accommodate two front row stars; Rihanna posed for the paps at show no.1 while Kristen Stewart was on hand for the second. And with Alexis Mabille’s announcement that he had teen clients who were snapping up couture pieces to attend proms in – who said couture was dead?

Contributing Editor: Richard Dennen

Photo Credit: Getty Images

01/02/2012 6:25 PM

Couture Queens

Cameron Diaz, Cara Delevingne, Bianca Brandolini and Vanessa Paradis had better things to think about than European fiscal policy last week in Paris.

It was indeed a tale of two cities – the best of times, the worst of times; one half of Paris filled with eurocrats huddling over the demise of their single currency. The other interested in something all together more important – how was Christian Dior under Bill Gayten going to fare this season? This was Paris couture week and nothing else could have been more interesting. Gayten’s second collection post-Galliano got a thumbs up with its hand-painted fabrics and classic Dior silhouette. At Chanel there was almost a stampede outside the Grand Palais as socialites and fashion mavens thronged through a fake airport terminal and into the life size model aeroplane that was the wow-like set for Karl’s show where Cara Delevingne walked down a double-C’d carpet and took her crown as the latest supermodel. Meanwhile Giambattista Valli embraced the colour pink with his collection and was supported by his usual cluster of hardcore euro-socials (Bianca Brandolini et al) and Cameron Diaz caused quite the stir by attending a very un-Hollywood threesome of shows (The Big Three – Dior, Chanel and Armani). There were almost audible sighs of relief as conspiracy theories evaporated and the news got out that she was merely there to style herself for an InStyle couture shoot. While those eurocrats were pouring over their fiscal crisis fashionable Paris danced – and there were plenty of excuses to fiddle while the Elysee burnt. Miuccia Prada gave a grand dinner, cool Colette, the boutique, feted London’s Mary Katrantzou. But the peg of ‘big party of the week’ was held onto by the Sidaction Aids charity dinner; Diane Kruger wore Erdem, the Clarins sisters posed for the photographers before Vanessa Paradis arrived in Chanel and stole the limelight. Age of austerity? What age of austerity?

Contributing Editor: Richard Dennen

Photo Credit:

Catwalking/Getty Images Entertainment

Pascal Le Segretian/Getty Images Entertainment