This time around, Haute Couture collections were shown in a virtual realm, making every passive viewer and fashion aficionado feel invited to private viewing of the latest mad and brilliant pieces concocted by the HC starlets.
Party never stops in the land of Alexandre Vauthier. While some brands attempted to innovate, the iconic French House embraced tradition and did so with flying colours (quite literally). Vauthier took us to the dance floor of an underground club where glittery ruffles clashed with silks in an overpowering performance. The provocatively short dresses were in a row with almost Victorian silhouettes where glistening pleats and ruffles paid tribute to the well-forgotten past done by the way of glamour.
Schiaparelli’s Haute Couture was its FW21 collection on steroids in the best possible way. Here we saw the House’s beloved hot pink and gold take surreal forms, with the striking muscle-shaped bustiers making an unforgettable statement. The oversized bow upon a black dress paid tribute to Schiaparelli’s beginnings, while the magnificent silk gown attached to earrings punched the door to the future of couture open. The accessories were in the league of their own, to the point where they transcended the notion of décor and became inherent parts of Schiaparelli’s mysterious and frighteningly glamorous characters.
“Elegance does not have to be retrained!” yelled this author while succumbing to the shivers of joy when Stephane Roland’s models appeared on the screen. Indeed, the French Haute Couture house has proven once again that classics can be exciting. Leather, silk and satin dominated the runway, while Roland’s signature architectural accents catapulted the collection to the ethereal realm. The show had a prominent bridal undertone, which seemed like a natural and smart choice, opening the possibilities to new silhouettes and innovative accessories.
RVDK Ronald Van Der Kemp
Ronald Van Der Kemp’s Couture presentation was a Wes Anderson-esque cinematic experience. The collection titled Wardrobe13 invited a flock of colourful references to the most extravagant ball this season has seen; here were the glam-punk groupies in denim and glitter, solemn figures from renaissance murals cloaked in drapes and characters from Persian folk tales. Allusive at its core yet never crossing the line between Couture and costume, RVDK showed a world where innovations in high fashion entail not the dimming of glamour, but its evolution into the forms either new or left in oblivion.
Iris Van Herpen
Iris Van Herpen’s mind is impossible to comprehend. The Dutch fashion designer dreamed up a plane where the ethereal intercepts the extraterrestrial. The beauty of Van Herpen’s use of 3D printing lies in its being completely unpredictable by the spectators. Titled Roots of Rebirth, the collection was meant to represent the dialogue between the terrestrial and the underworld, exploring all things deep and fragile by mimicking the delicate fungi tissue or the ‘undergrowth tapestry’. Roots of Rebirth drew inspiration from the roots and the spores as seen from hand-embroidered protrusions over the bustiers and mahogany silk drapes.
Giorgio Armani’s latest Haute Couture collection was a celebration of the independence from trends and an homage to the city of Milan. Armani embraced the traditional sense of glamour with precise tailoring that gradually changed to tulle dresses with filigree embroidery as usual. The progression of pantsuits to gowns illustrated the true meaning of Couture – fashion history. The roaring twenties influences clashed with the visions from the 1940s, staying true to Armani's DNA.
Perhaps, one of the most unexpected and enticing collections this season, Area’s Couture showed teeth, and they were studded. Ever since its debut collection a few seasons ago, Area has established itself as a powerhouse in the realms of construction and embellishments. Area’s signature sparkle has taken new forms upon the swirly roaring-twenties-esque dresses, harmonised with paillettes in oversized coats and reached the zenith in bold dresses dripping with crystals. The accessories game was on par, from bow headpieces to facet jewellery to earrings, finishing that vision of glamour futuriste with precise details.
Long-time Haute Couture member, Alexis Mabille, rooted his collection in specific silhouettes from various decades of the twentieth century that worked in the past and worked again on the 26th Jan 2021. The references stretched from the 1910s to 1990s and beyond, with Mabille’s signature architectural manipulations prominently exposed in nearly every piece. The collection felt nostalgic not only because of its tributes to the iconic fashion moments of the past, but particularly because it looked like something one would see on a double-page spread of an early-aughts fashion magazine in its comforting level of elegance.
S.R. Studio. LA. CA.
The fusion of streetwear and couture seemed like something so dangerous and frightening up until Sterling Ruby took our hands and guided us into the unknown. The enthralling clashes of colours and forms outlined a world where high and contemporary fashion are merged and the very notion of minimalism is obsolete. Coats became bags, laces became sweaters, and images became texture, undoubtedly staying true to S.R. Studio’s arts-and-culture inspired vision and creating a premise of Contemporary Haute Couture that doesn’t seem horrifying.