Ah...couture. It's like a fantasty trip into another dimension where I can only look through a very thick plate glass window while cradling some hope that, beyond these brillant artistic creations trickling down into ready-to-wear, I can maybe pick up a piece or two of inspiration here and replicate it in some fashion, however small. Couture is the high-art of fashion and some pieces look as if they belong more in the Louvre than they do on the street; in fact, they do.
To some, couture may seem an unnecessary venture at present, given the economic state of, well, the entire world. But to me, to many, couture stands on a vital pivot of optimism, light, and determination. In many ways, it's the fashion world's battle cry that says, this too shall go on! It's crucial to the history book being written as each House takes a gasp or two of air, going back under until the whole downturn blows over and praying that it does.
I try really hard, after the shows are over, to do two things. 1) Don't read what other people write about them. I want my opinion to be as unbiased as possible, even though my opinion, in the grand scheme of the fashion universe, doesn't really amount to a hill of glass beads. 2) Choose a handfull of defining photographs that capture the spirit of each show. Both are virtually impossible to do. 1) Everyone writes on the shows, I get 15 emails a day with updates, highlights, etc. etc. I have just have to turn a blind eye...oh but it's so hard! 2) Yeah. No. That's like trying to "chose your favorite star."
Alexis Mabille is a newcomer to the couture scene, somewhat evident by his collection, but it still is a refreshing swirl of colors and fantastic fabrics. I don't know that is exactly what I'm looking for in a couture show, although you can see the potential all the while imagining where he'll be in 10 years, so I'm not including images. I like to save space for those ones that make me swoony.
Giorgio Armani's Armani Prive smacked of Katherine Hepburn shaped suits mixed with a bit of shimmer, a monochromatic palette, and lush velvet; 1940's reinvented. The suit was dominant, with tight pagoda shoulders and straight legs. I always love Armani's gowns; I particularly loved these two:
I am not really sure how I feel about Karl Lagerfeld right now other than the fact that I think he needs to put food in his mouth instead of constantly insulting people. In the past few months he has successfully insulted Heidi Klum and Audrey Tatou. I'm sure Klum let it role off her perfect backside that he said she's fat (in which case he would probably compare me to some sort of sea creature such as the manatee), what, two times? But Audrey Tatou is the new official spokesmodel of Chanel AND she's playing Coco in the soon-to-come biopic so I think that one is slightly more unforgiveable. As for his collection, well, Karl can do whatever the fuck Karl wants to do, and I only say it that particular way because that's what he would say, yeah? I wasn't a fan of most of it; his muted palette's reminded me of the Depression and I think that's exactly what couterer's don't want people thinking about. In my humble opinion, I think it lacked editing but what do I know? I did, however, adore all of these:
When I dream about fashion heaven, which is at least a few nights a week, my very first thought is always, always Christian Dior. Now, then, forever, Christian Dior. John Galliano, I adore you...you are in my top ten list of people who would probably make me completley stupid if ever I were lucky enough to have a peeptoe pump in your magical presence (and for that, he is the only designer I would ever include the final shot from a show of...well and I love the two ensembles flanking him...but look at him! the man is magnifique!) I love this show on so many many levels, and not just because I am a) completely bias here and b) a bit of a vintage whore, but also, think of it this way: he took a return to Dior basics...the structure, the colors, the New Look glam of it all, which, I think, in this repressed economy, was a fantastic idea. It says, hey, remember why you come to this House...well, in case you don't, let me remind you. And suddenly you are sucked into a colorful, sexy and classic Dior slice of heaven. (There we go with that heaven again...)
It was said that Lacroix was literally pulling fabrics and trims from every corner and from every friend he could think of to pull this show of as the House of Lacroix seems to be breathing it's last breath (let's all pray that's not true). I think the collection was beautifully edited, pulled together, had a few of the classic over-the-top touches Lacroix is known for, while erring on the almost practical. If this is his last collection (for now, anyway), it was well done and refined. I thoroughly believe the black and white graphic below will find it's way into many an "inspired" ready-to-wear garment by year's end.
It's easy to see why Lebanese designer Elie Saab is such an Oscar favorite...his work is the pinnacle of what every girl imagines herself walking down the red carpet in. It's almost Peaches-n-Cream Barbie Doll perfection and I don't mean that in a bad way. Of all of my flocks and flocks of Barbie clothes, that is the one dress I remember vividly (dork flag, flying high). It was a little odd that Saab chose to put on an all white show shortly after Lagerfeld did the same thing. And some of the detail is undeniably similar to Michelle Obama's Jason Wu she wore for her first dance as First Lady. I didn't see Saab here in a lot of ways...his structure was off, and no color? I mean really, no color? He's kind of known for his crayola box of monotone dresses. Some of these felt like they just simply belonged to someone else. These I liked, but never was there full on in love. Unfortunate.
I'm not sure about Riccardo Tisci's collection for Givenchy either...I am absolutely on the fence about it. It certainly had depth and intrigue. I was immediatley attracted to the mysterious vibe that floated around each girl, the Indian influnece, the henna, the sarouel-effect he used quite well without being over done, I adore the velvet (there are two kinds of girls: velvet girls and leather girls, I am DEFINITELY a velvet girl), and this piece below I just fell for. But the pants really threw me off. The jodphur inspired trousers ranged from slightly more ballooned than the classic to rivaling those of MC Hammer. I'm not sure that's a look I'm ready for. Those and harem pants...no thanks, man. But this...this color, this silhoette, this drama...this is the kind of thing a girl would take another girl out over. Seriously. Can you imagine? Literally makes me palpitate. This may have my award for best couture piece of the season (you know, because I give those out and people care. Yeah, not).
There's a reason Madonna goes to John Paul Gaultier. That mix of the Marlene Dietrich attempt at titillating androgyny blended with blatant sex appeal spun on an edge...HOT. Dear G-d, so HOT. I love the pieces below...so classic Hollywood masterfully stirred in 2009. If I could have a closet full of suits in this vain, I would probably sell all my furniture, vintage bags, and any piece of designer clothing I have (well, excluding my Marc) to do it. Perfection.
Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri over at Valentino were alive in black. And to be more specific, quite skilled in creating a swarm of night bird's. Every girl's dress seemed some sort of magical symbiosis that was at once both over done lace and tulle while being completely organic. I loved the shoes, but the shoes often caught my attention more than the dresses. It's not that I didn't love the collection, I mean come on, it's Valentino, but I think this may be one of those collections you have to see in person to fully appreciate. It just felt like there was something missing. Like it was couture "light." Now I wonder how long it will be before I'm struck down my lightening for criticizing thy name, Valentino.