Excess was definitely the theme of Alexandre Vauthier’s latest collection. Expressing its creator’s inner haute showman, the collection featured oversized suits with shimmering, eye-catching silver sequins over sharp tailoring. The designs evoked a sensual, provocative mood, inspired by traditional French couture culture from the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier and Manfred Thierry Mugler. The radical hybrid of boots and pants only added to Vauthier’s signature illusory touch.
Giorgio Armani chose to explore nightclub culture of the 1920s and ’30s in his latest couture collection. Titled “Pétillant,” which translates to “slightly sparkling”, the assortment dazzled with trompe l’oeil black and white bugle beads and midnight-blue flower patterns. To create simple but still head-turning couture, Armani blended Asian-inspired textiles, ’80s ease and menswear-leaning silhouettes for a thoroughly modern collection.
A dystopian mood took over the 51st Balenciaga haute couture show, as a series of faceless humanoids in black neoprene stalked the runway. “This year I decided that I needed to put more of myself into it, and kind of find a new future, you know?” said creative director Demna Gvasalia. That meant reinterpreting gazar, the signature silk invented by Cristobal Balenciaga, in a new kind of neoprene as well as showcasing his own haute couture version of streetwear – with the help, of course, of his celebrity clients like Kim Kardashian, Nicole Kidman and Naomi Campbell.
Ranging from a luminous grass-green jacket once worn by Inès de Fressange’s to a bright pink shown in the 1988 Chanel couture show, artistic director Virginie Viard drew from a wide range of inspiration for Chanel’s newest couture collection. She then wove them together with the help of the house’s expert textile designers and dressmakers to create the signature tweeds and silhouettes clients have come to expect. All this was presented on a striking set created by artist Xavier Veilhan in a Paris equestrian centre.
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With the “Tree of Life” as an emblematic theme, creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri worked with Ukrainian artist Olesia Trofymenko to put together this latest collection. “I saw this work of hers in which she embroidered onto a painted landscape. When I saw this piece, I understood that the reference in the embroidery comes from Ukrainian folk costume,” explained Chiuri, whose version came to life in intricately embroidered pieces – many in long silhouettes with billowing sleeves – in a subdued colour palette of white and beige.
The men’s couture line from Elie Saab clearly stole the show, ranging from feathered regal capes to black velvet tuxedos to rival the women’s see-through black mesh gowns with deep red embroidery. Saab successfully mixed different fashion themes in his couture show, where the fierce red and black statement pieces contrasted with glamorous pink and nude hues. No matter the colour, Saab provided a look to suit any jaw-dropping entrance and any and all genders.
Minimalist, effortless dressing in only the most precious materials set the tone for Fendi’s latest haute couture collection. Highlights included rare vicuna fur, brown tailored trouser suits and turtleneck sweater dresses representing the co-existence of elegance and cosiness. With calf-leather-crafted pink bustiers and bugle-beaded tank dresses, Kim Jones aimed to honour Rome, Paris and Kyoto – the three cities that informed the collection.
“L’Instant” celebrated Giambattista Valli’s return to the couture runway for the first time in three years. White ostrich- and crystal-trimmed dresses accessorised with spectacular mirrored butterfly sunglasses and gigantic dazzling chandelier earrings didn’t go unnoticed among all the glamorously coloured dresses. Going beyond expectations, Valli succeeded in producing flamboyant, voluminous, expansive single-coloured dresses, making his comeback statement strong and unforgettable.
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Iris van Herpen
“The collection is very future-oriented, inspired by post-humanism, by transforming identities, the metaverse, but also hyperreality, where digital reality and physical reality are becoming indistinguishable,” said Iris van Herpen, who for 15 years has been designing for the metaverse. Inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, van Herpen’s latest collection challenged the line between human reality and the theorised supernatural form, featuring 3D printed panels made of thin upcycled cloth and rippling like waves as the ultimate extension of the human body.
Jean Paul Gaultier
As part of a project in which Jean Paul Gaultier entrusts his couture house to a different designer each season, Olivier Rousteing was invited to be the exclusive designer for this collection. The “open letter of love to Jean Paul” celebrated the designer’s boundary-breaking history, with inspirations ranging from a 1994 tattoo collection and the iconic Le Male fragrance and its tin can packaging to corsets, stripes, repurposed denim and Madonna wearing Gaultier at the 1992 amfAR gala.
John Galliano’s Artisanal collection was presented in an array of deconstructed garments, an elegant amalgamation of hospital scrubs and prom dresses with nearly anonymous faces, accentuated with cowboy attire and oversized puffs of chiffon. The abstract line also featured sequined teddy boy jackets and bunny-ear headwear, all in what has been described as a “fantastically-costumed American psycho-drama of dreams and nightmares that played out on stage, screens, and livestream from the Palais de Chaillot”.
Named “The Tree of Life” after a banyan tree growing in the courtyard of his family home in India, Rahul Mishra’s couture collection celebrated his heritage in innovative fabrics that recalled the wonder of nature. Entering the venue were an array of heavy silhouettes spiked with hundreds of golden leaves, lavishly oscillating in the light like banyan leaves bathed in the glow of a gorgeous sunset. Following were floor-sweeping gowns coated in a shimmering gold, with details of vibrant floral embroidery.
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Ronald van der Kemp
Showing his first physical collection in two years, Ronald van der Kemp made an argument for the importance of upcycled fashion and the impact fashion has on the environment. With this recontextualisation, the designer presented a collection made with deadstock fabrics and old designs transformed with a more contemporary touch. Exploding chiffon dresses were complimented with mesh see-through sleeves while lace was heavily featured in both leggings and ball gowns, accessorised with an abundance of unique headpieces.
Artistic director Daniel Roseberry “wanted to make a collection that brought me back to the kind of fashion that I fell in love with”. The result was a collection characterised by the iconic Schiaparelli staples of black and gold, majestically accentuated with low-cut velvet dresses cinched at the waist, and an occasional skirt in silky sage as a comfortable alternative. Realistic flowers in lavender and blush bloomed in a perfect arch towards the shoulders, finished off with an array of matador hats for a hint of anonymity.
To honour the history of Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli staged this season’s show on the famed Spanish Steps in Rome. With a focus on diversity and the notion of non-stereotypical identities, plus-size models strode through the venue in long-sleeved blood-red slit dresses while others were styled in sequined pants and voluminous ruffles of white chiffon. Pink also made an appearance in the collection, expressed in an iconic organza silhouette with eye-catching headwear that framed the face in a halo of feathers.
Viktor & Rolf
A dramatic neckline, mystical even. This was yet another of Rolf Snoeren and Viktor Horsting’s visions that came to life. As the duo worked through wonders, handsomely tailored wide-collar tuxedos, dress shirts and leather coats were brought to life, with the second portion of the show dominated by collapsed collars, laying gently around the necks of models in a mildly tender manner below soft swooping lights. A diverse line-up of vertically striped suits and monochromatic houndstooth coats also followed.
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