Chae Eun Son reports on the fall couture collections from the major fashion maisons
Alexandre Vauthier took his couture in a new direction this season, embracing sobriety and allure while departing from flamboyant aesthetics. The autumn collection showcased the French designer’s expert tailoring skills through meticulous cut, construction and execution. Designs featured variations of draping and asymmetries, and the incorporation of showstopping elements like billowy capes, embellishments and rich textures – all while maintaining slender and elongated silhouettes.
In a testament to his avant- garde vision and flawless craftsmanship, Antonio Grimaldi’s latest couture collection showcased meticulously tailored pieces as well as precision in draping and sewing techniques, which created bold and sculptural silhouettes that exuded sophistication. Luxurious fabrics and a rich colour palette of jewel tones enhanced the opulence of each garment, while the detailed embellishments, from delicate beadwork to ethereal feathers, added depth and texture, showcasing Grimaldi’s exceptional creativity and technical expertise.
Embracing the essence of reserved glamour, Giorgio Armani’s couture collection featured long, attenuated silhouettes and impeccable tailoring. The iconic Armani aesthetic shone through with the incorporation of roses in various forms – from sequined and 3D chiffon roses to conceptual interpretations. The designs ranged from minimalistic elegance to bold statements, with delicate embroideries and, bold red sequins – all reflecting Armani’s timeless mastery in blending tuxedo tailoring with stunning gowns.
In a triumph of artistic expression, Ashi Studio unveiled a revolutionary haute couture collection at the illustrious Théâtre du Châtelet. Inspired by Patrick Süskind’s iconic novel Perfume, the collection exuded an intoxicating blend of passion, obsession and mastery as it delved into the depths of inner beauty. Each meticulously crafted garment became a vessel for extracting inner beauty and transforming it into a tangible form, bridging the realms of imagination and reality. Through intricate detailing, luxurious fabrics and masterful craftsmanship, Ashi Studio reconstructed concepts of memory, yearning and fragrance into mesmerising couture creations.
Serving as a bridge between Drawing inspiration from the past and present, Balenciaga’s latest couture collection merged traditional craftsmanship with innovative techniques. Creative director Demna illustrated the idea of clothing as armour, embodying themes of resilience and self-expression through reimagined silhouettes, such as wide funnelled necklines and disappearing jacket shoulders. The collection showcased a balance of visible and hidden couture, with exquisite dresses that evoked movement and meticulous craftsmanship, ultimately reflecting the designer’s unique vision and pushing the boundaries of traditional haute couture.
Drawing inspiration from the everyday idyllic atmosphere of Parisian life along the Seine, Chanel’s autumn couture collection was all about the French brand as a lifestyle. Virginie Viard captured the essence of French-ness with a focus on sophistication, simplicity and natural beauty. Garments included narrow coats, knee-length suits and slightly Mod trouser suits – toggling between the ’80s and ’60s while showcasing Chanel’s exquisite craftsmanship through techniques like chiffon ruffles, gilded surfaces and intricate floral embellishments.
Maria Grazia Chiuri’s grand yet modest collection resonated with women worldwide, transcending cultural boundaries and speaking to the essence of haute couture. The designer focused on embodying the simplicity of Greek and Roman antiquity in designs that exhibited a harmonious blend of pristine minimalism and delicate details, featuring monumental capes, pleated dresses reminiscent of Doric columns, and ethereal garments adorned with gilded lace and pearl bead embellishments. Chiuri also paid homage to the heritage of the Dior suit by reinterpreting it with modern sensibility, offering a timeless and chic aesthetic.
As always, Elie Saab transported women’s imagination into a realm of fantasy through his couture collection. Inspired by period movies set in the Middle Ages, the designs showcased Saab’s renowned embroidery work, with sequined details gracing chiffon gowns and dramatic black velvet dresses adorned with pearls. Alongside these ornate pieces, Saab presented solid-coloured gowns in velvet silk, highlighting his mastery of silhouette-flattering, soft-draped shapes without compromising his signature decorative flair.
Created from the synergy between Kim Jones and Delfina Delettrez, Fendi’s collection explored the concept of the silhouette being simultaneously “nothing” and everything. Each piece exuded understated luxury by combining draped and wrapped shapes reminiscent of 1990s minimalist aesthetics with influences from ancient Roman statuary. Delettrez’s 30-piece collection of precious jewels elegantly complemented the couture garments, with pink spinels, yellow diamonds and intricate geometric plays on the Fendi logo. The collaborative approach between fashion and jewellery highlighted the essence of teamwork within the Fendi brand.
We all know Giambattista Valli is no reductionist, yet his latest collection embraced transcendent haute couture. It showcased the timelessness of fashion, rooted in classicism while embodying modernity. Inspired by the notion that privacy is the ultimate privilege in today’s world, the show took place in Valli’s new headquarters, an intimate setting reminiscent of a chic salon de couture. The garments showcased
were meticulously crafted, featuring distinct yet harmonious silhouettes and a refined colour palette with deep black, stark white and touches of Bois de Rose, absinthe and silver.
Iris van Herpen
Iris van Herpen once again crafted an enchanting and alluring collection which drew inspiration from the concept of aquatic architecture, and the future of human habitation in both land and oceanic environments. Fluidity was explored through fragmentation, shifting patterns and laser-cut pieces bonded onto mesh bodices and garments that merged innovation with tradition through draped organza and pleated metallic fabrics. Van Herpen’s vision aligned with the principles of bionic architecture, while raising questions about the potential for couture to become responsive to environmental changes.
Jean Paul Gaultier
Julien Dossena’s collection for Jean Paul Gaultier was inspired by the vibrant characters seen on the streets of Paris, with each one envisioned as a queen wearing a unique crown. Dossena paid homage to Gaultier and Paco Rabanne, infusing the collection with modernised chain mail techniques and a celebration of bohemian glamour. The designs showcased a mix of chic-ified looks, and drew from Gaultier’s iconic designs – incorporating elements such as trapper hats, floor-length coats and off-the-shoulder lace.
Titled “We, The People”, Rahul Mishra’s collection placed an emphasis on the enchanting world of Indian craftsmanship and the artisans who bring his designs to life. Each garment showcased intricate embroidery, with miniscule figures of artisans hidden within the motifs. Mishra’s silhouettes, influenced by Erté’s Art Nouveau drawings, featured flamboyant volumes, slender shapes and tailored pant suits – all adorned with dazzling decorations which evoked a sense of joyous excess and exuberance that reflected his passion for creation.
Ronald van der Kemp
Ronald van der Kemp’s “The Reset” was a collection that celebrated sustainability, artistry and intimacy. The presentation at Atelier Néerlandais was a vibrant affair, with installations and garments suspended as artwork, while the RVDK team showcased their upcycled creations. Inspired by osmotic creative organisms, the collection included thought- provoking designs that were all meticulously crafted from recycled and upcycled material – reflecting a generous spirit and an abundance of artistry and love.
Inspired by the surreal as well as freedom of artistic expression, Daniel Roseberry embraced a spontaneous and painterly approach this couture season – experimenting with asymmetrical silhouettes and blurring the boundaries between clothing, embroidery, jewellery and textile collages. Drawing inspiration from Lucian Freud’s studio and Schiaparelli’s classic gold embroidery, he explored exceptional artisanal effects, incorporating multicoloured mosaics, vibrant blues and painted wooden jewellery. The collection reflected a departure from routine, and instead pushed the boundaries of haute couture.
Thom Browne pulled out all the theatrical stops for his haute couture debut at Paris’s Opéra Garnier. With a focused palette of shades of grey, the collection emphasised the interplay of silhouette and movement. The star of the show was none other than model Alek Wek, who sat contemplating life on a pile of suitcases. We saw a multitude of iterations of Browne’s trademark grey suits, as well as bells in cloche hats, aquatic motif-adorned canvas coats and pigeons taking flight from exquisite beaded dresses.
Held at the Château de Chantilly, Pierpaolo Piccioli’s haute couture collection, “Un Château,” challenges the notion that couture is synonymous with complexity by celebrating the essence of couture as profoundly simple. The collection also embraces inventive paradoxes, such as a pair of slouchy jeans made of silk gazar embroidered with pearlescent beads to replicate a denim texture. Overall, the collection embodies imaginative clarity and defies expectations with its refined simplicity.
Viktor & Rolf
Unveiling their 30-year anniversary haute couture collection, Viktor & Rolf mesmerise us once again with their distinct blend of surrealism and humour. Shattering expectations, they eschew extravagant gowns in favour of celebrating the bathing suit – exploring its possibilities with meticulous deconstruction and reconstruction. From high-cut bodysuits embellished with rigid ruffles and headless mannequins adorned in tailored tuxedos, their collection defies convention, inviting the audience to indulge in their own imaginative interpretations.
Also see: Men’s fashion #autumn/winter 2023