Chinese Whispers at Versace, Frankenstein’s Monster at Schiaparelli. Haute couture autumn/winter 2014
I’m sure I’ve talked about the importance of individuality in haute couture before. It’s the raison d’être for the thing – couture clothes are complete one-offs, made to the specific measurements and requirements of incredibly wealthy and demanding women. Those demanding women come in all shapes and sizes, with different tastes.
They always have. While haute couture once set the trends – there’s an exhibition about to be launched at Paris’ Musée Galliera titled “Les Années 50, La Mode en France 1947-1957″, which lauds that golden age – it still had room for disparate voices. Balenciaga showed his unfitted suits when Dior-influenced cinched waists were at their tightest. Chanel, Schiaparelli and Vionnet had violently opposed views of dressing women, but they co-existed, and thrived.
In less than 24 hours, we’ve had four very, very different interpretations of twenty-first century haute couture. How to reconcile the whimsy of Marco Zanini’s Schiaparelli debut with the hyper-modern aerated layers of Raf Simons’ go-faster Dior? How could you compare the cinched-in, souped-up sexuality of Donatella Versace’s Atelier ode to Grace Jones with Giambattista Valli’s embroidered, gazar-wrapped chocolate-box frocks? Couture is about contrasts. There’s aren’t that many customers out there left, so canny couture houses are appealing to niches with deep, deep pockets.
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