Monday, July 7, 2014

Haute Couture SS14 Recap

Top, L to R: Giambattista Valli, Elie Saab, Christian Dior, Atelier Versace
Bottom L to R: Chanel, Valentino,  Bouchra Jarrar
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As Haute Couture week kicked off yesterday and the streets of Paris are once again filled with amazingly dressed reporters and exclusive clients, I decided to give a brief recap of last season's shows. I included every thing from the the most historically well known couture houses to the up and coming (newly admitted!) couturiers.

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 If perhaps you were going to go to a club in Miami, Vauthier was sure to show an outfit of choice. Combing super sexy surfer with a few ethnic suggestions, this collection was not an understatement if using the word "upbeat" or "flashy." Silhouettes were kept short and hip-hugging for most of the show, with a few longer pieces with slight trains trailing behind them. I guess the ladies that wear couture need something to wear on these hot summer nights when they're feeling ultra sensual, right?


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Now in the days of couture, I think it's hard to find a collection that directly emphasizes and gives the " princess, goddess" like appeal. Although sometimes hard to see the dresses underneath the extra styling, it was heaven nonetheless. Favorite pieces included this head to toe lace gown embroidered with beading and crystals.

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Once again at Armani Privé's "One Night Only" presentations, Giorgio Armani took viewers on a journey called "Nomade." The title didn't fall short, Gypsy-like models with their heads wrapped in silk ascended down the catwalk in shades of midnight blue and a light, silvery almost celestial blue. Harem-like pants and use of fabrics like silk jacquard and gazaar further implied the reference to a mysterious tribeswoman. The show developed into glistening swarovski embroidered evening gowns. With blues being a very popular color within this couture season, Armani was sure to do an exceptional, exemplary job with it.


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When the hooded first look came down the runway in the video, I saw where Mdme. Donatella was going. She had aimed to mix silhouettes true to the history of house of Versace while introducing something new to what is happening in the present world of fashion. Hoods were directly taken as reference to Grace Jones and her iconic look. Bright hues of neon, cutouts, tattoo motifs, and draping chains all kept it identifiable with Donatella.


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When everyone was eager to see Raf Simon's debut to couture back in 2012 at Christian Dior, it was one of the most anticipated shows of the season. This season's Bouchra Jarrar show was similar considering she just recently was admitted as a permanent member of the network of fashion houses considered true couture houses by the Chambre Syndicale. Not surprisingly, Jarrar brought something fresh and cool. More relaxed and masculine cuts embellished with precise beading took all the glamour of couture and put it into a "badass" attitude.


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Karl Lagerfeld has always been known to go way beyond the boundaries that Mademoiselle Coco Chanel would ever have, but somehow still keeping it unmistakably "Chanel." This season, quite contradictory so. Having kept the sporty, nonchalant mood Chanel evokes, he also brought the waist in and skin tight corsets.  If you have heard a brief description of Chanel even once, you'd see why the irony is so big. Fabrics included popular tweed as well as netting beaded to perfection. Sneakers extended sportiness, made of tweed, croc skin, and other luxe materials as models skipped down the two grand staircases. Pieces were elegant nonetheless and always showcase the extraordinary craftsmanship of the Maison Lesage, the embroidery house, along with the 6 other Haute Couture ateliers Chanel has purchased in an effort to keep the world of couture alive. Elbow and knee pads as well as fanny packs will not e surprising to see in stores as Karl loves commercialization of all runway inventions.


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Call me an extreme label whore, but I have always loved Dior and it's Haute Couture all the way from 1947 until now. Waking up at 4 in the morning to get the first look at this show was not at all a waste. When being interviewed on the collection, Raf Simons stated he is further working on "modernizing" couture, which was evident in the sportiness and easiness of movement and embroidered sneakers.  Casual dresses were made of sheer silks that were cut out to then have the pieces re embroidered with a pearl inside making printed fitted sheaths underneath visible. Even the darker colored pieces failed not to have a light and breezy movement to them. Simon's evident respect and use of the codes set by Monsieur Dior, and ambition to "free couture" not only make me fall in love with the house of Dior once again, but the intellect and sensitivity of Raf himself.

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Pastels and goddess like ombres ruled the esteemed red carpet designer's runway this season. It seems Saab presented more than the future gowns of next year's award season, but reinvented it as well.  A new kind of softness with elegantly draped necklines and layered pleats in sheer silks and plisee were those suggesting of a more classical silhouette. The extravagance came in the show when a group of gowns black towards the neckline, fading downwards into a bright pink-violet, to then end in an angelic white color almost like a flower. Just like spring, Saab has left the single colored skies of winter and bloomed in a range of colors fresh to the house's history.


Let's just start by saying that Lena Dunham's met gala dress from this collection did NOT do any justice for this collection. Although Valli presented a use of much denser fabrics, Much like Raf Simmons at the house of Dior; he is stepping out of the traditions of couture and molding it's future with his own hands. This season he designed a youthful, "spontaneous" as he said in an interview, collection for the badass that would go to a rock concert in couture, run late to a gala afterwards, and then sleep in it. Opaque silks and gazaars were made into fitted mini skirts with oragami-like draping often sitting on top of the hips. Longer skirts were also paired with cropped bodices and a sexy slit through the middle revealing most of the leg. Even the grandest of outfits were paired with a beaded tank revealing the electric youthfulness of Valli's vision for the spring.


Nostalgia was all that was left inside of me after seeing the definition of art meeting fashion within Maison Martin Margiela's collection.Textiles created by artists like Frank Lloyd Wright were scouted all over the globe to then be sewn into immaculate pieces of clothing. Not only were these textiles found and purchases, but they also had something deeper to them, a story. According to fabric cuts included a coat made of vintage tapestry, jacket assembled of an old rescue blanket, and a skirt made purely of silk scarves from a 1930's brothel. No wonder MMM is a favorite amongst artistic types.


Marco Zanini much like Gaultier and Galliano understands the more playful side to fashion. He has also developed boundaries for himself and his modern vision while developing a couture house founded by insanity herself, Elsa Schiaprelli. His designs this season were fluid and elegant while adding the classic Schiaparelli touch with bright prints and headdresses. His sense and recognition of his own personal aesthetic with that of Schiparelli is greatly appreciated.


Sargeenko would have to be the current "show girl" of couture. From her very detailed sets to makeup, and picture she paints of her collections, she's got a hell of an imagination. Going into an old elegance similar to that of circa 1920's or 30's , Sargeenko combined elements of men's attire with that of a youthful woman in today's world. I say it's the closest we'll get to the beauty of Haute Couture's past.


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The house of Valentino found it's inspiration in the beautiful sounds of the opera and it's great composers like Verdi, Puccini, and Bizet. When the animals came out on capes and bigger more voluminous dresses, I felt as though I had a hard time catching the meaning behind the choice to have them printed on garments. I ten started to think of the idea of one's reality and how opera much like all performances has something we can't quite come to contact with, much like animals. Other than a rather abstract concept, the collection seemed a very melodic soft and classic performance.


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This was one of the hardest collections for me to wrap my head around. I got used to Galliano's showmanship, but always found a reason  behind everything. I guess that this collection clashes with my deep appreciation for ballet in the way that I can very clearly see the reference ( ballerinas from the national dutch ballet were cast) , but wouldn't be able to say that I can see anything deeper than their surrealist take on it. I can agree to saying it was an extraordinary show at least.


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Industrial design is what drove Hussein Chalayan to create a collection for this season. Harness dresses with pleats familiar to the house were modernized by being printed on only one side and gowns resembling design details like spiral staircases translated into light organza gowns. Although being new to Vionnet, I was really intrigued by the source of Chalayan's inspirations which only wants to make me see more.


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When Zuhair Murad let us into his dreamy garden collection, I immediately saw classic couture. Thousands of hand appliqued flowers, sequins, all over impeccably tailored bases. There was definitely a lot to look at since each design was overwhelmingly decorated on it's own either it be the hundreds of flowers, head to toe lace, or embroidered animals prints. If you're a fan of, like described before, the old dramatic, show-like ways of couture, I'm guessing this was one of you're favorite shows.

So, let me know which shows were your favorites and what you expect out of the AW14 couture season! Also don't forget that I will be posting a mid couture week update on Wedensday bringing you exciting images and more. Also, please join the site! I will be hosting a giveaway to celebrate the launching of La Créature Chic!

Jorge G. Alvarez 

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