Twice a year we are graced with the absolute best of the best in fashion: haute couture. The art form is confined to a select group of designers, and has been the height of the industry for over a century. Though only four days long, the Spring 2018 season, which starts Monday, is a packed schedule featuring 33 high fashion labels. Suffice to say, even for the biggest fashion fans, it’s a lot to digest.
One of the most anticipated shows this season is Clare Waight Keller’s couture debut for Givenchy. The designer first introduced her vision for the French house with her ready-to-wear collection last season. But couture has different expectations, and the show on Tuesday will reveal whether or not she is up to the task. Of course, fans are just happy to have Givenchy back on the couture schedule, after a brief hiatus from the runway.
Another (sort of) debut this week is Christophe Josse, who is returning to the couture world after four years away. The art-historian-turned-designer actually presented his first couture collection in 2005, and became an official member in 2011, but then stepped away in 2014. His final collection featured an interested use of textiles, which varied in textures and subtle details, kept simple by a muted color palate. While his hiatus was brief, Josse’s return should still garner quite a bit of curiosity.
Not all of the changes to the week are couture-related though: Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, and Vetements are set to show their Fall 2018 ready-to-wear collections. It’s a fascinating move for these labels, which are often considered “demi couture”—by placing them alongside couture shows (or in Proenza’s case, on the same runway) they are calling to be viewed at the same creative level as the highest standard of fashion, albeit outside of the tight parameters of Le Chambre Syndicale, couture’s governing body.
One of Le Chambre’s criteria for haute couture certification is having an atelier in Paris, but the council is willing to be lenient with some of its rules. In turn, this has opened up the couture community to the globe at large, to the benefit of fashion fans.
This year’s returning guest designers hail from all parts of the globe, including Russia (Ulyana Sergeenko), China (Guo Pei), Belgium (A.F. Vandevorst), Italy (Antonio Grimaldi), Israel (Galia Lahav), Lebanon (Georges Hobeika, Zuhair Murad, and Maison Rabih Kayrouz), Denmark (Hyun Mi Nielsen), England (Ralph & Russo), the Netherlands (RVDK/Ronald Van Der Kemp), and Japan (Yuima Nakazato). There are a handful of Paris-based brands as well, like Azzaro Couture, and Xuan, which also has an atelier in Holland. All of these designers have brought new perspectives to the industry, and some—like Sergeenko, Pei, and Murad—have captured extra attention on the red carpet of Tracee Ellis Ross, Rihanna, and Jennifer Lopez, respectively.
Equally keeping haute couture contemporary are the modern houses, like Giambattista Valli, Alexis Mabille, Stéphane Rolland, Giorgio Armani Prive, Alexandre Vauthier, Franck Sorbier, and Elie Saab, many of who have been going in a sexier, more youthful direction in recent seasons. Despite the fact that couture has a reputation for being the most elegant of fashion, there is absolutely no reason why the same amount of craftsmanship can’t be applied to a miniskirt. Besides, designers like Saab and Vauthier have built their names around edgy evening wear.
Of course there are the couture mainstays we look forward to, like Chanel, Dior, and Valentino, who’s collection will likely not veer too far off from their standard offerings, but that will impress us nonetheless (model watchers in particular will be excited to see which it-girls nab spots on these runways).
Couture’s most glaring absence this season is that of Azzedine Alaïa, who died this past November. Alaïa made a surprise return to the couture calendar last season after a six year hiatus, much to the delight of pretty much everyone. Despite his passing, the legendary couturier’s presence will still be felt this week with an exhibit curated by Olivier Saillard, and housed in the designer’s old home.
Another presence noticeably missing this season is Bouchra Jarrar, who shuttered her eponymous label in 2016 to head up the house of Lanvin. It was announced last summer that Jarrar was stepping down from the house, but still no announcement has been made on her return to the world of couture.
Also an interesting absence is Lanvin itself. Upon hiring Olivier Lapidus to succeed Jarrar, the house was allegedly considering a return to couture (a nod to the heritage of the house). However, given that Lapidus’ debut collection last fall was ill received, that’s likely not going to happen soon.
One old-school couture house that has been revived to the art form is Schiaparelli, which was re-launched in 2013. In the years since the epic label founded by Elsa Schiaparelli, friend of the surrealists, and Coco Chanel’s rival, has managed to recapture the public’s interest, alongside modern outlandish couture houses like Jean Paul Gaultier, Viktor & Rolf, and Maison Margiela. Expect the unexpected—and a lot of showmanship—from them all.
Sometimes it seems as thought the current atmosphere in fashion is a bit crazy. There are a lot of changes happening quickly, and the ups-and-downs of the world of couture is no different. But through it all, the world of high fashion continues to enchant us, and for the spectacle and glamour of it all, we’re excited for the season to get started.END
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createdAt:Wed, 17 Jan 2018 22:57:55 +0000
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