From last Sunday to Thursday, over 30 internationally renown fashion houses took part in the opulent, bi-annual affair, reminding us commoners without fail, why haute couture is the most extravagant, avant-garde advent within the industry.
Unlike Ready-to-Wear, also known as Prêt-à-Porter in French; Haute couture collections are the crème de la crème of all creations. Fashion houses are intricately delegated by The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, an elite French board of ministry who per season, dictates the eligibility of a fashion house to become an official couturier for that season. Before even deciding such, fashion houses are required to adhere to several rules just to be considered.
Garments are meticulously designed stitch by stitch, bead by bead, and can take up to 300 hours per item. Pieces can range in price from anything upwards of $100,000 and are particularly designed to be worn by a select few, and only a select few. For those who don't have access to purchase (or even look at) such garments, i.e anyone who isn't publicly important, Ready-to-Wear collections are a less expensive, subdued version of haute couture and can most likely be bought in store.
Last Sunday, Donatella Versace kicked off Couture Week SS16 with Atelier Versace, her muse being female empowerment. Dresses featured silhouette cutouts, models wrapped in Swarovski rope and embroidered geometric patterns in combos of orange, blue, yellow, black and white, a seemingly latent nod to renown artist Piet Mondrian. Sporty slacks and cutout blazers were also thrown into the mix making Donatella's target audience quite obvious -the youth. According to InStyle, Versace shared that she believes "women can be powerful and achieve their dreams while also having great elegance and beauty." She stopped at nothing to include the industries most current models including Gigi Hadid, Natasha Poly, Behati Prinsloo, and Irina Shayk, to name a few.
Day two was met with a flurry of breathtaking shows from the likes of Christian Dior, Schiaparelli and Giambattista Valli. Shockwaves were sent across the globe months ago when Raf Simons, (ex)-creative director of Dior, announced his bidding adieu. This was Dior's first show since his departure. Designers Serge Ruffieux and Lucie Meier failed not as temporary directors, showcasing ornate pieces representative of Simons' style for the show last week. The collection included shoulder dresses embellished with sequins, all things patterned, and delicate, sheer and lace ensembles all paired with pointed flats with wraparounds around the ankles. Italian fashion house Schiaparelli also made waves with picturesque garments inspired by food and feast. Creative Director Bertrand Guyon titled the collection "A Gala Dinner… or The Pleasures of Tasting," stitching images of plates, silverware and foods such as pasta and turnips onto pastel colored coats, blouses, skirts and gowns.
On day thee, spectators were graced with what were probably two of the most cohesive collections of all, those two being Chanel and Armani Privé. In his collection, Giorgio Armani glorified the usage of lavenders, lilacs and it's variants, a futuristic yet ever sophisticated approach for a haute couture collection. While subtle to the eye, Armani's utilization of satin silvers and lavenders embellished with iridescent beads, crystals and sparkles, made for garments painfully easy on the eyes. Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel on the other hand, favored nude and beige this season, a nod to his eco-lux, nature-inspired setup which caged his elegant models inside levels of wooden-type cabanas alongside a backdrop of clear skies. As long-time Creative Director, Karl Lagerfeld has been notorious for pushing the envelope with Chanel. Last haute couture season, Lagerfeld presented jackets made solely through 3-D printing while this season included hand-sewn veneer embroideries made exclusively from wood and embellished with Swarovski crystals.
Couture Week ended with a bang with shows from Ellie Saab, Maison Margiela, Jean Paul Gaultier, Viktor&Rolf, Valentino and Zuhair Murad, all collections so vastly different. While Elie Saab showcased a collection of immaculately subdued yet breathtaking gowns adorned with lace and metallic beading; Viktor&Rolf presented an entire collection of white piqué ensembles inspired by cubism, each look more exaggerated than the next. Some models were even temporarily blind as their views were entirely blocked by the large statement pieces rigorously put together by Dutch creative directors Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren. Jean Paul Gaultier also brought about his own form of innovation with a leathered, big-haired collection inspired by the 80's with the late David Bowie's alter ego- Ziggy Stardust, as his muse.
It's quite safe to say this season's Haute Couture Fashion Week did all but let us mere mortals down. Check back in mid-February for full coverage on 2016's Spring/Summer Ready-To-Wear Fashion Week in New York! You can also find the link to all Fashion Week schedules here.
Reach Contributor Claudia Dayani here.