Paris Haute Couture week celebrated a modern vision of craftsmanship
The spring summer 2022 season at Paris Haute Couture has come to an end, with perhaps less spectacle and more focus on its glorious savoir faire. The front rows were predictably absent of guests absorbing the limelight, with the exception of Kanye West and new girlfriend / muse Julia Fox.
The most over the top creations came courtesy of American designer Daniel Roseberry at Schiaparelli, a palette reduced to nearly all black, white and gold that came in the most sensuous of shapes. There is no taming the imagination of Mr Roseberry, with his penchant for sculptural bodices, headwear and oversized jewellery
In a nod to the metaverse and otherworldly, there were planetarian rings orbiting models faces, gilded bustiers that were more sci-fi than irl. The clothes had less volume and colour than previous seasons, but the looks were not any less striking. Most importantly, the house of Schiaparelli has a sense of humour that feels both refreshing and necessary.
This season Maria Grazia Chiuri toned down the championing of feminist messaging instead highlighting the skilled humanity of its many collaborators and ‘petit mains’ of its ateliers. Exquisitely embroidered pieces, from gowns to socks and shoes, will dazzle its customers who can afford to see and wear the true value of made to measure artisanship. The collection was almost ‘plain’ in comparison to the ball gowns of yore, with beautifully handcrafted tailoring in grey, black and white, executed with the finest construction and know-how required to sew each piece.
Blueblooded horsewoman Charlotte Casiraghi strutted down the runway on an actual horse, wearing the Maison’s signature tailored jacket, in perhaps what was the biggest spectacle to open a couture week show. The signature jacket followed in several iterations for the next eight looks, light as feather, in tweed, blue tones and then in jacket dresses, with checks, stripes and bouclés as favoured fabrics. A dress in tiers of raw cut silk organza was worn with a jacket in sequined tulle tweed over a bolero embroidered with Constructivist flower sequins and pearls. Such was the level of detailing.
The constructivist set was a theme designed by visual artist Xavier Veilhan, who had previously collaborated with Chanel, and who also made a film superimposed with Constructivist motifs. Artistic director Virginie Viard said in the show notes it was “part landscape, part garden and part open theatre stage.”
The theatrical aspect certainly inspired the makeup, with heavy use of black kohl highlighting circular eyes and double liner making for a brooding statement.
In its most inclusive casting ever, Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino couture lineup featured some familiar faces, but mostly a range of body tropes not seen on the haute couture runway. In a preview before the show Piccioli told Vogue “in couture you never see these bodies,” shaking up the foundation of the craft, by “keeping the codes, but changing the values.”
Instead of fitting each look on one slim size house model, Piccioli used different body shapes and proportions starting in the design phase, which meant different silhouettes came to be created when a variety of sizes were embraced. Breathtaking were the beautiful colours and sublime drapery that Piccioli is renowned for.
Viktor & Rolf
The Uncle Fester-inspired creations at Viktor & Rolf do not give justice to the Dutch design-duo’s incredible technique and constructions. Using corsets to elevate the neckline and shoulders, the designers created a silhouette that harked back to their very first collection for the Hyères fashion competition in 1993.
The designers said the silhouette was reminiscent of Old Hollywood movies with archetypal scary images of a person in the doorway. If the constructs seem severe, they work without the corsets too.