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Paris Haute Couture SS 2018

Feb 19, 18 Paris Haute Couture SS 2018

Oh, Fashion, Fashion! Eternally elusive and impermanent, as if laughing at our vain attempts to keep up with your pace, you inspire. And forcing sometimes to hate your crazy impulses you even stronger attract into your world of illusions that come to life for a short moment. The Haute Couture Week, smoothly emerging after Men Fashion Week, was held this season in a politicized atmosphere that swept all spheres of life, inspired by recent women’s protests against the permissiveness of the “strong” sex.

Maria Grazia Chiuri, a feminist activist from fashion, continues to draw attention to women artists undeservedly deprived of fame. To create a new collection for Christian Dior, the designer drew inspiration from the art of the surrealist Leonor Fini. Chiuri recreated in couture looks inspired of the black and white world of dreams, playing a dominant role in the symbolism of this [surrealism] artistic flow of the first half of the twentieth century. For a woman imprisoned in the cage of the misogyne society it is time to fly out to freedom – this message of Maria Gracia is read in graphic silhouettes, checked prints, bodices, as if woven of wicker baskets, and earrings in the shape of a bird cage. To note the original masks created by Stephen Jones in homage to Peggy Guggenheim, exhibited Fini’s creations in 1943

No matter how far from politics Karl Lagerfeld is, in the preview of the spring collection of Chanel Haute Couture, the German admitted that he was confident about the choice made by the French of the young and ambitious President Macron, whom the designer knows personally. As for clothes, the new collection, presented in the traditional for the fashion house Grand Palais, is characterized by a certain restraint. The theme itself – French gardens – is far from the shocking decorations of past shows [water cascades, a spaceship, Eiffel Tower, etc]. The looks correspond to the theme: pastel colors predominate, lots of classical tweed. In evening numbers dresses, the emphasis is on shapes and volume: Lagerfeld “plays” with the waist line: raising and lowering or even completely eliminating it from the cut.

According to a well-aimed expression of one of the editors, even in the most French of the arts, the art of haute couture, now rule Chinese. The spring collection of Gui Pei once again takes us through the magical mirror of our fantasies, on which the very concept of haute couture rests. According to an already established tradition, January collections of Madame Pei are distinguished by theatrical looks bordering with true works of art, in contrast to July ones that are more “commercial”. Life, or more precisely its origins – roots and flowers – inspired the Chinese designer to create this collection. Embroidery and decorative appliqués, worthy of royal apparels, an abundance of gilding, eccentric headgear and extremely high heels, on which the models seem to soar above the catwalk – the garments of Guo Pei are so fantastic that they deserve a place in museums and fashion exhibitions.

The source of life, paganism, appears in its closeness to nature, inspired another designer in this couture season. Bertrand Guyon created a collection of looks for Schiaparelli, not so distant from reality as the fairy world of Guo Pei, but staying on its border. Ultimately, we are dealing here with the modern concept of surrealism, whose zealous adept was the inimitable Elsa. Raffia conveys primitiveness, soft bends of flax and embroidery with mother of pearl Swarovski beads – poetry, and the ubiquitous, hand-embroidered insects and the shocking pink of an airy chiffon dress with a bodice in the shape of a heart remind us of the philosophy of the fashion house – be bold and original in your choice. To adopt such eccentric creations can first of all afford creative natures, whose originality they would favorably emphasize.

Military couture, inspired by Vietnamese women who fought for the liberation of their country along with men, was presented in the spring collection of Antonio Grimaldi, who visited South-East Asia last year. Jackets suits of “rice fields” color repeat silhouettes of army uniforms; the combined with the satin bodices chiffon evening dresses of lilac shades reflect the roots of ancient trees interlace through the stone walls of the Buddhist temples of Angkor Wat. “No matter how long people kill each other, the Nature always takes its own course,” the Italian designer tries to convey to us through his creations.

To the same nature, which became a common stimulus for many spring and summer haute couture defiles, turned in the new season Iris van Herpen. “Ludi Nature” – the name of the latest to the date collection of the Dutch designer known for her futuristic creations, is translated from Latin as “A game in the nature”. “We are convinced that our technologies are complex, and Nature is simple. In fact, everything is exactly the opposite!”- observes van Herpen, whose weightless designs of high-tech materials, perforated with millimeter precision laser, seem to have been created for aliens who have won gravity and are hovering half a meter above the surface of the earth.

Unlike the fantastic futurism of Iris van Herpen, where aestheticism is at the forefront, the futurism of no less high-tech designer from Japan, Yuima Nakazato, is more wearable and created for (future) earthlings. Real talent manifests itself early: Nakazato is just over thirty, and he (among other achievements) has already become the youngest graduate of the Fashion Department Master’s Course of the world-famous Royal Academy of Arts of Antwerp; won a Diesel Design Contest, published a book and, before launching his own couture house, skilled hands creating of men’s clothing. ‘Sustainable fashion’ for the young designer is not an empty phrase, but the philosophy on which all of his work rests, aimed at the bright future of earth dwellers. “How would we dress for the first meeting with representatives of an alien civilization?” – Nakazato tries to answer this difficult question in its new collection, in the looks of which elements of spacesuit astronauts are easily guessed.

Retro futurist, tirelessly replaying in his collections the disco-era of the eighties, Alexandre Vauthier has little in common with his haute couture colleagues – hostages of a serious attitude towards the task they laid on themselves. Items created by Vauthier are perfect for going to a nightclub, where you are sure to be at the center of everyone’s attention. “But where is the haute couture?” – you may exclaim looking at the photos on your screen. And only after a closer examination it turns out that the gilded tartan and “zebra” are embroidered by Lesage craftsmen, the cascades of precious brooches on the jacket are a result of the painstaking work of the Goossens craftsmen, and the theme of the collection itself is inspired by the Impressionist paintings [check out the second look and you will recognize the “Fifer” of Edward Manet], and have no straight relation to nightclubs. In this specificity of “imaginary simplicity” lies all the charm of the couturier’s creativity, in whose looks we can easily guess the influence of Jean Paul Gaultier and Yves Saint Laurent, where started the career of the future member of the official calendar of the Parisian haute couture week.

Couture does not have to be complex and suitable only for one “special” occasion – the same opinion along with Alexandre Vauthier is shared by another French designer – Maxime Simoens, creating for a house with a haute couture label Azzaro. “It seems to me that we live in a time when customers are no longer interested in the traditional ‘constrains’ of high fashion. I want to come up with a ‘light’ version of haute couture, one in which they will not feel like disguised” – the designer says in the preview of the show. In a sense, the DNA of both houses, Azzaro and Alexandre Vauthier, has a lot in common. The only difference is the foundation time: the fashion house headed by Simoens appeared in the era that the young Vauthier, who created his brand himself, draws inspiration from now. Glitter, “aristocratic” punk, tiny mini dresses and deep decollete by Azzaro are made for a night-out, and rather for a decadent grunge one than a cheerful disco.

Between the “haute couture”, drowned in tulle and embroidered with sequins, and “easy couture” the designer duo from Antwerp creating under the brand A.F.Vandevorst, chooses … the third way. For An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx haute couture is first and foremost a method of self-expression, sometimes provocative, sometimes meaningful [as in the previous collection, presented in July, when models wore bags on their heads and dresses made from garbage bags]. Designers celebrated the twentieth anniversary of their fashion house with a show, in which they gathered 40 looks – one from each collection.

Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren of Viktor & Rolf originate from neighboring to A.F.Vandevorst Netherlands and also perceive high fashion as a way to express themselves, but unlike the gloomy AFV world lying somewhere between pseudo fetishism and military, the V & R universe is full of rainbow colors, pleated tulle and exaggerated forms. Their models appear as animated picture frames, dolls with huge heads, floral bouquets, or rather their wrapping paper, as in the last collection of the brand.

A flower woman, as Alexis Mabille sees her muse, relentlessly inspires the couturier to create lush, bright outfits, each of which deserves to become the center of gravity of a social event. Mabille’s best skill is the interlacing of traditionally masculine details in deliberately feminine looks. Here we are talking first of all about his signature tuxedo, which passes from season to season in different variations. Regarding bows – another component of the DNA of the fashion house – I feel less enthusiasm, giving preference to the “boudoir” bustier in the spirit of “early” Ulyana Sergeyenko [however, it is not known who was inspired by whom in this respect]. Creativity aside, business is business, and even in high fashion you need to sell in order to stay in the program of Parisian weeks. Judging by the prevailing in the spring-summer collection of heavy atlases, cold dark hues and almost absent lace and tulle, the clients of Alexis Mabille are more than serious.

Creations of the sculptor from fashion Stephane Rolland are difficult to cannot be criticized: they are monumental and at the same time laconic with respect to details; they are perfect. The designer, perhaps, is the only successor of the tradition of haute couture in its original notion.  Apparels from his collections are always voluminous. Occupying a lot of space around themselves, they require appropriate locations for the presentation. If the summer catwalk was organized in one of the halls of the Parisian Opera of the Bastille and was accompanied by a live performance of an opera solo, in the new season Rolland invited us to the Opera Comic – one of the oldest theaters of the fashion capital, featuring luxury interiors serving as an ideal frame for couture outfits.

Regarding the choice of location for presentation of collections: sometimes the entourage of the defile is so unique that the interest in clothing as such is receding to the second place. At the show of Rabih Kayrouz from Maison Rabih Kayrouz both components: the collection and the place of its presentation, are equally tempting. The fashion audience was invited this time to the American Church, where a wooden panel with a neon inscription “It’s Couture baby” was installed by the altar. Three in one: pre-fall, fall 2018 ready-to-wear and the actual couture clearly allowed the designer to save time (and money) for organizing at least two events. Among the models were spotted friends of the designer: a famous French fashion journalist and writer Sophie Fontanel and a jewelry designer Noor Fares, while dancing pas between the outputs was performed by another longtime muse of couturier, prima ballerina Marie-Agnes Gillo. The show was a success; and the signature structural cut with a combination of bright orange and royal blue emphasized the personality of each of them [muse-friends]- independent, creative, talented.

Collections made by the revived from “creative ashes” great John Galliano for no less legendary house of Maison Martin Margiela, always attract attention of the fashion folks. Courage and eccentricity don’t lack Galliano, and his spring-summer fashion show delighted us with the originality of his ideas. Dresses “edited” for Instagram or other social networks – the designer refers to the fashion seen through the screen of a smartphone. Rather futuristic than deconstructive, looks of the new season are based on a scientific-conceptual approach. While for their implementation are used traditional haute couture techniques, in which the skill of human hands is not interchangeable. From such contrasts the miracle of high fashion is born.

Not only to Lasage high fashion owes richness of embroideries – an important part of haute couture. The craftsmanship of Lebanese designers in this area is in no way inferior to their French confreres. Their ultra-spectacular creations, presented at the Paris weeks, regularly supply celebrities with dresses for festivals and other high-society parties. At a time when evening dresses from Dior have turned into a form of protest, tweed sets of Chanel scent a bit mothball, and from the former poetry in the Renaissance spirit of Valentino is left only… feathers, couture gowns from the Middle East designers continue to please the sight with beauty in the classic sense of the word. And it is not so important with what each of these Mages of satin, lace, tulle and velvet was inspired this season [whether Art Déco of the twenties like Elie Saab, wheat ears and the kingdom of Dimeters, like Ziad Nakad, a wigwam of American Indians like Zuhair Murad or the splendor of ancient Greece at Georges Hobeika]. The Lebanese do not try to prove anything to anyone: their task is to turn their client into a fairy princess, desired, unattainable and infinitely feminine.

When looking at the perfect silhouettes in the Julien Fournie collection, I hear that “we have already seen it” [I myself do not think so, however], a question comes to my mind: will we get bored by buds of roses that are about to blossom, or by a blazing sky of the setting sun, … or by a portrait of Mona Lisa if we look at them every day? Can beauty really bore in its most authentic understanding? And how this very beauty can change from time to time, without ceasing to be beautiful? The answers are “no” and “no way”. What can change are colors, fabrics and their combination, the mood can change, as in the last collection of the designer. Yet he still chants the fragile femininity of his heroine, dressing her in anatomically tailored outfits; only she, this heroine, seems to have become a little stiffer, a little more imperious, as if naïve inexperience, guessed in the looks of early collections, had disappeared. Probably this is just our time. After all, Fashion – is only its reflection …