Story of the Month
Reimagining Couture

With the traditional fashion calendar in complete disarray, designers are trying to make sense of this unique moment we are all going through, with new creative propositions in reaction to the situation. With the menswear presentations cancelled in June, Couture became, fittingly, our first experience of fashion’s lived creative response to the pandemic. There could be no better first response than fashion’s most innovative voice: Haute Couture!

CHANEL

 

Chanel presented a streamlined Autumn/Winter 2020 collection of 30 looks –  less than half of Spring/Summer 2020 – celebrated in a beautiful film showing the clothes in movement. The collection was dedicated to the socialite ladies that the late Karl Lagerfeld would accompany to Le Palace nightclub. In memory of Lagerfeld, but also in memory of nightclubs and nightlife, something we have all been missing since mid-March. Featuring wonderful floral embroidery, princess sleeves and tiaras, what better way to dress in defiance!

CHRISTIAN DIOR

 

Maria Grazia Chiuria – Christian Dior’s creative director – took President Macron’s words to heart, following his Mid-March declaration: “We are at war.” Looking back to the post-World War II history of couture and the ‘Theatre de la Mode’ created in 1945, which utilised miniature dresses on doll size mannequins, as fabrics were in scarce supply, to show couture clients the collections. She enlisted ‘Pinocchio’ director Matteo Garrone to visualise her dream in a sumptuous video, which showed Dior bellboys dragging a doll’s house (an imitation of the Maison Dior Haute Couture Salon at 30 Avenue Montaigne in Paris) full of the tiny dresses through a mythical world, letting the nymphs and creatures choose their own couture!

BALMAIN

 

Balmain is always quick to embrace newness, with a passionate engagement across all social media platforms and a strong spirit of inclusivity. It was with this spirit that Olivier Rousteing dived headlong into the Seine for a presentation on Paris’s biggest runway, the river itself, streaming the show live on social platforms. The live show was open for all, as the bridges were packed with spectators, and Rousteing announced afterwards that it reached a physical audience of at least 20,000 Parisians. The collection was a technical tour-de-force revisiting pieces from the archives alongside new tailoring, all set to the live music of French pop artist, Yseult: a true glimpse into the possible future of fashion presentations.

IRIS VAN HERPEN

 

Van Herpen has been testing the limits of the real and the digital for some time, so the notion of a digital couture fashion week was not a challenge to her and her team. She chose to rethink the whole process, producing only one dress, loaded with enough conceptual nuance to constitute a whole season. Treating the dress as a work of art, that can be flipped upside down or turned back to front without affecting its final wearability, she reimagines nature itself through the medium of couture.

VIKTOR & ROLF

 

Not ones to avoid ‘the conceptual’ in their collections, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren went to the heart of the matter, questioning what it means to make a wardrobe for these uncertain times. With three mini wardrobes, each comprised of a negligee, a dressing gown, and a coat, they questioned our emotions, our fears and spoke to our humanity. The campaign video that accompanied the collection was narrated by Mika, who exclaimed during the final ‘hearts’ wardrobe “We all deserve to be loved, regardless of age, color, gender, race, religion, or sexuality.” The coat that he was referencing encouraged social distancing with its three-dimensional heart forms, whilst raising a smile and speaking to all.

GIAMBATTISTA VALLI

 

For Valli it was business as usual, a time to look forward not back and celebrate the craft of couture. This time the bows were bigger, the tulle was more voluminous and his love for Couture had never felt stronger. Pairing the collection with the video above that emphasises the details of the collection and features in split-screen, videos shot on his own iPhone during his runs on the seine during confinement, his message was clear: “Now, we want to spread beauty! We want to spread dreams! I want to give hope for more happy moments to come. I want to share the idea of a future that’s going to be better than the past.” (Valli in conversation with Vogue.co.uk)

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