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Haute Couture SS20: Giambattista Valli, Iris van Herpen, and Ralph & Russo

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This week, Whitewall is looking back at the Spring/Summer 2020 Haute Couture collections presented in Paris, including the new designs from brands like Iris van Herpen, Ralph & Russo, and Giambattista Valli.

For Spring/Summer 2020 Haute Couture, Iris van Herpen debuted a 21-piece collection of wearable sculptures inspired by Ramón y Cajal’s scientific illustrations of the human nervous system, along with the enchanting nature of Hydrozoa sea-life organisms. Models emerged from a series of light wave sculptures by Paul Friedlander, weaving their way through the space like the ebb and flow of the ocean, clothed in garments crafted from billowing waves of fabric, cages of tiny bonelike structures, and blooming layers of fabric that appeared to take on a life of their own with each step of their wearer. Entitled “Sensory Seas,” the collection employed a palette of vibrant ocean hues like blue, purple, red, and green, along with three primary techniques to obtain the highly detailed silhouettes—a Labyrinthine approach using 3D laser cut silk, 3D printing to obtain the blooming quality of the lacelike Hydrozoa, and a Morphogenesis style (done in collaboration with Philip Beesley), which included details carved from thousands of layers of screen-printing mesh.

Courtesy of Giambattista Valli.

Ralph & Russo’s Spring/Summer 2020 Haute Couture designs celebrated the turn of the decade by offering modern interpretations of its own couture icons. Returning with the brand’s signature ultra-feminine touch, the new collection highlighted elements like oversized hairbows, hand painted organza, floral details and prints, and a palette of airy colors like pale pink, aqua, and chartreuse. Some looks—like a shimmering, sheer high-necked dress in white, or a long pale blue look with tiers of ruffles—were imbued with a girlish charm that reminded us of classic films like My Fair Lady. Other styles took on a more sultry attitude through form-fitting silhouettes with split skirts and glittering embroidery, seen in looks like a pewter pant suit and a beaded dress in silver. Other highlights included the floral suit with the trailing robe and the off-the-shoulder bridal style gown with the cloudlike high-low skirt.

Exquisite dresses with a hint of avant-garde filled the runway for Giambattista Valli’s Spring/Summer 2020 Haute Couture show. Skirts, bows, sleeves, and ruffles were imagined in generous, billowing volumes, and in eye-catching colors like canary yellow, flamingo pink, and apple green, also including several floral prints and all-over embroidery. Balloon hems and full ballgown skirts were seen in several iterations, including a golden draped gown in frilled tulle, and a cocktail length dress entirely in salmon colored folds of taffeta. Looks we’re still dreaming of include the empire gown in mint with orange feathers; the white and wine-colored dress with the Grecian Goddess-style drapery, worn with a crown of white feathers; and the column gown with top-to-bottom ruffles and a pink feathered mask.

Courtesy of Giambattista Valli.

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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