Paris haute couture: cultured clothes come out of Covid-19 confinement
Day two of the haute couture season featured 11 brands on the official calendar, opening with France’s single largest haute couture house: Chanel, which referenced Le Palace nightclub, Mecca of the denizens of 80s late-night Paris. But the majority of couturiers, with infinitely less resources, instead showed contemplative clothes, created quietly during the Covid-19 confinement.
Notably, one could witness a half-dozen, younger Paris-based labels, underlining how alive is the tradition of haute couture – the laboratory of high fashion.
Alexis Mabille took a straight-forward approach, with models appearing out of a doorway in a large triangular set in deep violet. Mabille is a couture realist – showing grand mantilla lace capes over gold jacquard tulip dresses; floor-length taffeta sheathes in kissing pink or pearl trimmed leopard print sequin columns. Though his best look was a phantasmagorical patchwork wrap jacket, an ideal look for his soundtrack, Famous Monsters by the Chromatics.
Avant gardists Aganovich recalled Entre-deux-guerres Paris with Surrealist graphics and a playful sense of design, directed by old pal Erik Madigan Heck. A barely two-minute stop-motion animation video, with structured petticoats over white trenches; brilliant blood red velvet hacking jackets and a revamped fencing jacket for tougher nighttime moments. Not surprisingly, the collection was called The Anxiety of Influence.
Given the plethora of arty presentations, it was almost refreshing to witness Stephane Rolland’s presentation, as this Frenchman actually listed the style and fabric of each look.
Such as: a long poncho dress in ivory crepe mousseline and plissé white gazar finished by golden caviar, summing up well the sense of cocooning in Rolland’s style. The couturier also used unexpected materials – like smoked polyurethane as to create giant see-through panels – and cut with abandon, draping huge swathes of organza with aplomb.
All shot in a Paris studio with cinematic lighting and backed by a soundtrack that mixed church organ music, twinkling pianos and mournful trumpet. And worn by a curly, blond-haired Nieves Alvarez, the Spanish model and television presenter, her head topped with citrine tiaras.
One of the few non-Parisian houses on the calendar was Yuima Nakazato, who started a dialogue with 25 clients and their white shirts, transforming each into radically new looks. Fusing ideas from traditional kimonos, couture draping, nature and Jean-Michel Basquiat after conversations with his customers – clips of which are in the video. Charming, contemporary and coherent amid the forced confinement caused by Covid-19.
And from another Paris house, Julien Fournié, authentic couture with a capital A – since he only ever makes one example of each look for just one client.
Not everyone was low-key: most notably Alexandre Vauthier, who pulled off the shortest presentation by far – just 25 seconds! Featuring a gurgling rock track, Ghost Rider by Suicide, it starred a series of gyrating models in ripped-up, gold lamé rock goddess looks; femme fatale Sci Fi rockers and a deranged grand dame (or two).
Good to know that at least one couturier is gnashing at the bit to get out there and party.
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