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Throughout this week in Paris, fashion houses are presenting their Haute Couture debuts for 2023. Here is the latest from Alaïa, Schiaparelli, Rahul Mishra, and Alexandre Vauthier.
For the Winter/Spring 2023 Alaïa Haute Couture Collection, Pieter Mulier explored and celebrated the inherent contradiction at the heart of the Maison; complexities can be found in simplicity, a refinement discovered in the savage grace of the raw and brut. The collection was presented within walls that resonate with the past and the future—a mythical Parisian address, 15 Faubourg Saint-Honoré, an expansion of the brand to open in 2024. The simplicity of geometric forms yielded intricacy: rectilinear cutting and reduced construction were used to create garments that move easily around the form. Polka-dots were a leitmotif, echoed by embroideries of baroque pearls. Stretch-jersey pieces were precisely reengineered to function as a second skin in leggings, draped skirts, and coeur croisé tops. Skin led to leather: mouton, raw-edged, and unlined. Fabric moved freely, draped and knotted, manipulated by seams and simple drawstrings to gather. In a fashion typical of Alaïa, the demarcations of creation and process within garments became a new form of decoration. The “wrong” side of denim was used in pieces that twist around the body. A fretwork of leather, like a cage bound in metal, opened windows onto the woman beneath. Jewelry had a brutalism, laid under clothing or fused with their surface. Metal bangles were inlaid into sleeves, or integrated into footwear. Embellishments defied traditional ideas of embroidery: paillettes were cut from leather, assembled to resemble exotic skins, while mirrored sequins affected the rapport between fabric and body. A 1991 heel developed for Azzedine Alaïa by Raymond Massaro, styled as a pair of female legs, provided direct inspiration for a new creation by Mulier. The brand’s heritage, a constant inspiration, is always alive.
Daniel Roseberry returns to a state of creative innocence with Born Again: Schiaparelli’s Fall/Winter 2022/23 Haute Couture Collection. Within the constructs of our challenging world, the presentation was a re-affirmation that fashion is indeed provocative, meaningful, and breathtaking. A short jacket with sharp shoulders, in black velvet, was embellished with tone-on-tone embroidery of black grapes, inspired by Elsa Schiaparelli’s original archives. The piece revealed a silk crepe skirt suspended from a champagne double satin corset with two black velvet bows. Accessories included a shiny braided black boater hat, round gilded brass earrings with bead adornments, and a velvet ribbon choker. A bustier in white leather was molded onto the torso, worn with a draped low-cut skirt with pom poms on the bottom, and a sunhat in thick straw. The “déshabillé” dress in black velvet was worn with a gold and rhinestone headpiece of pale green pearls as grapes. A bias-cut dress in pale green satin was worn over a black Chantilly lace bra adorned with black velvet ribbon. The sharp coat in midnight blue velvet was embellished with hand-painted hydrangeas, parrot tulips, orchids, and daisies—finished in gold leaf. Gold-plated horseshoe-shaped earrings were adorned with rhinestones. In a style inspired by an original design of Elsa, a short jacket in amber velvet was embroidered with arabesque three-dimensional pansies in black sequins, tassels, and fringes. The piece was worn with a bouillonné skirt in glacial blue satin that had a sculpted effect. A necklace composed of red beads held a red lacquered anatomical heart pendant adorned with rhinestones that sat on the left breast. Breathtaking indeed.
The Tree of Life, a manifestation of nature’s abundance, provided the inspiration for Rahul Mishra’s Fall 2022 Haute Couture Collection. Mishra, the first Indian designer to showcase at Paris Haute Couture Week, witnessed numerous instances of the worshipping of trees while growing up in India. The collection, a vision in gold, expressed this gratitude for nature’s wisdom. Vibrant two and three-dimensional floral embroideries articulated the first flush of nature on a gown, delicate tops, and flowing black skirt. The intricately embellished artworks articulated scenes from dense forests with ancient architectural remains and vegetation into modern-day silhouettes: blazers, bralettes, and trousers. Metallics added another dimension to the brand’s signature handcraft. True to the values of Haute Couture, pieces featured fabrics that were handwoven in remote locations in India, embroidered for over 10,000 human hours, and sewn to perfection for clothing that was featherweight despite its gilded surfaces. A contemporary application, using a multitude of traditional surface embellishment techniques from the Indian subcontinent, the collection was a manifestation of artistic memory. Not only magnificent to the eye, it endeavors to cultivate a circular economy for craft communities in India.
Alexandre Vauthier presented his dynamic Fall/Winter 2022 Haute Couture Collection this week in Paris. In luxurious and futuristic fabrics, Vauthier supported unique craftsmanship and artisan know-how. A black metallic-fringed floor-length dress with sheer sleeve details certainly caught our eye, as did the sleek broad-shouldered tuxedo blazer, brilliantly reimagined with shortened sleeves. The deep-V dress was set off with a graphic splash of silver-toned sequins, while the deep-V vest took evening wear to new proportions, set off with a sophisticated and gathered trouser. Black and nude sheer paneling was glamorously intermeshed with silver stud work in ethereal dresses—uniting the soft and the strong within all of us. An ivory metallic gown covered one arm in a draped sleeve, while the other was left exposed and free. Another grand creation coolly covered the neck, arms, and legs in matte and draped gold, while a dramatic cape billowed behind. Royal blue made a staggering impression in a floor-length sequined gown, a sheer and intricate long-sleeved chiffon dress, and a shimmering turtleneck whose sleeves extended into gloves. The timeless collection was show-stopping, seductive, and empowering.