Paris Haute Couture Week SS17

This season’s couture shows displayed an ode to nostalgia but ultimately, a need to move forward, and none so effective than through loud feminine wiles.

Chanel has traditionally held a spectacle for their shows to compliment the theme, spectacles and sets such as a casino with the Chanel muses playing cards, an airport complete with check-in counters and departure boards, or a supermarket fully stocked with inter-twining C branded products. This season, however, it was back to basics – well, as basic as couture can get, with a hall-of-mirrors room, inspired by the 20s style of the famed spiral staircase in the house’s Rue Cambon HQ. The work of British interior designer Syrie Maugham was cited as a reference by Lagerfeld – a woman who famously told a client: “If you don’t have ten thousand dollars to spend, I don’t want to waste my time.” Similarly, the collection was just as decadent; silver sequin shifts with bursts of marabou shimmered to life under the lights, while a flapper dress was beaded with rows of crystals and decorated with tiers of feathers. While other looks – such as tweed skirt suits, pearls and dignified dresses – channeling First Ladies rather than flappers.

70 years in the making and Dior finally has a woman as its creative director. Maria Grazia Chiuri’s first couture collection had only two months to materialize; she does not speak French, while most of the Dior atelier does not speak Italian. “We had to find our own, new language,” she says.

Fitted Dior Bar jackets graced the runway with chiffon and lace ball dresses – a functional femininity if you will. Embroidered inspiration took form from the artist Claude Lalanne’s delicate sculptures and Christian Dior’s beloved horoscope symbols scattered across 50’s satin full skirts. This follows on from her first ready-to-wear collection with feminist slogans across t-shirts paired with tulle skirts; and although Maria says, “pret-a-porter reflects the moment, couture is about timelessness,” a case could be made for functional tailoring as a feminist statement in itself.

Elie Saab
Elie Saab pays homage to the goddesses of Egypt this season, inspired by an Arab epoch ‘that left us with a priceless cultural heritage – a source of light & richness for civilizations.’ The collection is wonderfully princess-like, as is what Mr Saab is known for, albeit this season takes a more grown-up approach with hints of boudoir dressage through sheer silks and ostrich feathers. Embroidery took form in the shape of boats dancing in the Nile’s blue hues and the eye of Horus while the finale dresses spoke of freedom through female empowerment.

Schiaparelli Haute Couture
Legend has it; Elsa Schiaparelli’s astronomer uncle once pointed out the many moles on her face which bore the same resemblance as the Great Bear constellation – thus Schiaparelli had her good friend, Salvador Dali, make this into a brooch for her to wear proudly. This same constellation is featured in Bertrand Guyon’s latest couture collection, the artistic director for the house drew the design on a white cashmere cape, along with the sun and the moon and draped it over a little white tunic dress, with thigh-high boots in the same red.

This symbolic legacy seemed a long-time coming; after four seasons at Schiaparelli, Bertrand felt ready to take on the house icons – the lobster, the Cocteau faces but through a much more provocative way, through arduous embellishments and fine embroidery. Something you can’t help but think Schiaparelli would have been most pleased with.

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