Ever since John Galliano left Christian Dior, Paris Haute Couture has missed some of the decadent, flowing, feminine gowns that he designed with their roots firmly in Dior’s ‘New Look’. And while Christian Dior and Maison Margiela, John Galliano’s current house, didn’t provide that this season, it was there, bringing a feel of Hollywood’s golden era back to the catwalk thanks to Ralph & Russo, Armani Privé, Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad particularly. After all this is how Haute Couture should differentiate itself from the pret-a-porter collections seen at the fashion weeks!
Chanel – the queen of Haute Couture with four ateliers – also shone as Karl Lagerfeld presented a luxurious ‘roaring’ twenties-inspired collection.
Here are our picks of the top show’s from Paris Spring Haute Couture…
Ralph & Russo
Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo have a floral theme as their inspiration with ruffles that mimic the delicate petals of peonies, roses and lisianthus as well as applique petals and flowers. The womanly silhouettes echoed Dior’s New Look producing a sophisticated and feminine collection. If any of the ‘invited’ houses should get ‘haute’ status, surely it should be Ralph & Russo.
With a nod to the sporty aesthetic that Donatella loves, she also maintained the barely there, held together dresses that are so popular with the Versace loving celebs. With flashes of colour, slashes and cutouts they show off the womanly form – as long as that form is athletic, tall and enviably slim.
Bouclé suiting that is classic Chanel was softened with longline skirts, puff sleeves and pared down tailoring however it was Karl Lagerfeld’s evening wear that, despite his eco-friendly, sustainable collection, was luxurious and decadent with a heavy influence from the roaring 20s splendor. You could imagine these dresses in at a Great Gatsby soiree or a remake of The Beautiful and the Damned,. Haute they definitely were. Sustainable? Well I imagine they would never go out of fashion.
Form slip dresses to ball gowns, it is easy to imagine these dresses on award nominees and Oscar hopefuls. The palette of soft mauve and black was impactful, with the varying fabrics and the feminine ruffles and pleating add interest and movement. At the very least take inspiration from his colour palette for this spring.
Whites, creams, nudes and blushes punctuated with soft silvers and cornflower blue are the influences that Elie Saab took from India with his show notes saying to think of an Englishwoman’s trip to the then colony in the early 20th century. “India is her backdrop and her inspiration for a new blend of formalism and ease, opulence and elementary lines,” it said in the program.
Luxurious fabrics from silk and chiffons to brocades, velvets and lamé, designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli harked back to ancient times of roman gods and their muses with ethereal flowing gowns and gold snake head wreaths. The gowns were stunning, standing out for all the right reasons, exactly what Haute Couture is all about.
“I love the possibilities of corsets. You could say I wanted to put women in a gilded cage,” Zuhair said backstage and the boning and corsetry of this collection combined with soft powdery shades, floor length gowns with glamorous trains and floral applique made for a romantic collection. With some lampshade boned mini skirts demonstrating he wasn’t speaking strictly figuratively about the birdcage, it was the full-lengthed gowns that were the real showstoppers.