Christian Dior (left) and Valentino (right)
It was interesting to read Colin McDowell’s latest column on the Business of Fashion which discusses the origins of couture and how it has evolved over the years. Despite all the changes to the week (including the addition of lesser known names who aren’t technically defined as couturiers), there is still something magical about watching designers delve into their imaginations without boundaries. Now more than ever they are also faced with the challenge of modernising this ancient craft which has turned out to be a very fine balancing act.
For spring 2013, Chanel, Christian Dior and Valentino all referenced nature in different ways. At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld literally recreated a magical forest in the Grand Palais (apparently the trees were imported) although there was a sense of melancholy that pervaded the collection. The shoulders were brought into focus as classic tweed suits came with folded collars framing the shoulders, and later cut-away necklines. I loved the long and lean evening gowns with their old world silhouettes. They were made modern with red, white and black florals and details such as sheer yokes, black feathers, sequins and embroideries.
Atelier Versace (left) and Chanel (right)
Raf Simons also explored the joys of gardening while refining his 21st century aesthetic for Christian Dior. The collection featured a spring worthy palette of light blues, pink, yellow and red, but it was the flowers that blossomed whether they cut across the skirt of a black gown or appeared in bright neon on a strapless 1950s style dress. Modern touches could be seen in the tailored asymmetric gowns, sleek trouser combos and layered light looks.
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli’s collection for Valentino drew inspiration from garden architecture. Scrolls of piping (all made by hand) decorated gorgeous red and white gowns like Italian ironwork. This was contrasted with tailored gowns so stark yet so precise that they took your breath away.
Donatella Versace’s latest outing for Atelier Versace was so Gianni, that I couldn’t help but love it. It had those Versace favourites – the sex, the skin, the flashes and pink and yellow – although Donatella changed it up with some black and gold daywear that included a pinstripe trouser suit. Mr. Armani never strays to far from his signatures which included fitted jackets and trousers (this time high waisted), spiced up with geometric zig zags. Jean Paul Gaultier was inspired by India but he pillaged a couple of street markets instead of paying homage to the country’s craftsmanship and history.
Bouchra Jarrar (left) and Giambattista Valli (right)
Moving away from the established names, Giambattista Valli proved why he is a favourite with the young set with his strapless tailored gowns worn with cigarette pants underneath. More to my liking was Bouchra Jarrar’ modern daywear – think perfectly cut trousers topped with striped scarves or furs that are belted at the waist.