Haute couture. An untouchable illusion of silks, feathers, and leathers; only accessible to around 200 consumers worldwide. To be classified as a haute couture label, you must be certified by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (a trade association under the fédération française de la couture, otherwise known as the governing body incontrol of the french fashion industry), and follow the guidelines set by it. These rules state that each fashion house “must design made-to-order clothes for private clients[,]…[occupy] an atelier (workshop) [in Paris]...[and] present a collection…to the public every season, in January and July” (Business of Fashion). During both months, 17 houses, or official members, convene in Paris for Haute Couture Fashion Week.
They are often joined by guest members and correspondent members. Correspondent members are houses based outside of Paris while guest members are just invited by the haute couture union. If guest members are invited back four times in a row, they are then eligible to become official members. The most recent Haute Couture Fashion Week was held from January 24 to January 27.
Although 12 members presented their newest collections, I will only be focusing on Fendi, Jean Paul Gaultier, Chanel, and Schiaparelli.
Fendi: For Kim Jones’ third collection, the English designer chose to draw inspiration from Rome, female empowerment, the concept of time, heaven, astrology, and space.
His evening-wear-centered approach is visible in flowy, almost ethereal organza dresses. The collection contains a color scheme of red, purple, blue, black and white. Classic Roman architecture can also be spotted on some of the garments.
Jones mentions being captivated by space-centric media such as “Dune” and “Star Wars.” He describes exploring Rome through the lens of the past, the present and the future.
Jean Paul Gaultier: After the retirement of Jean Paul, the brand changed its design model so that it teams up with a new designer every season. This season the brand chose to collaborate with Glenn Marten. The designer, who originally started his career at Gaultier in 2008, chose to focus his collection around a celebration of the past. He said, “This is a celebration of Gaultier. I’ve stayed close to the woman Jean Paul created in the past — pure diva goddess beauty, hips, whatever, all the drama he loved” (Vogue Runway).
Marten recreated and modernized some of Gaultier’s most iconic pieces by playing with 90s-inspired silhouettes, using an abundant amount of chiffon and incorporating a reimagined interpretation of the classic hourglass silhouette.
Chanel: With references to the 1920-30s and a live horse on stage, Virginie Viard’s show had a distinct equestrian ambience to it. Additionally, Viard tried to make a summer-like flowy collection while staying true to Chanel’s tweed roots. She incorporated flapper-inspired fringe and cuts similar to those used by Coco Chanel in the 20s. And much like her predecessor, Karl Lagerfeld, Viard chose to close out the show with a wedding dress.
This dress followed in the same direction as the rest of the show with a 20s-like cut, simple embroidery and a blue, statement bridal bouquet to finish the look.
Schiaparelli: Titled “An Age of Discipline,” Daniel Roseberry’s fifth collection for Schiaparelli was inspired by “the void of reality” and science fiction. He said, “There’s a word in French for when you’re driving on a cliffside and you have the sudden urge to go off the road. It's called ‘the call of the void’” (Vogue Runway). “Vogue Runway” goes on to explain it as “an intrusive thought that affirms our urge to live.” Roseberry describes that this void is how “spaciness” feels for him and how “the void is the absence of this reality.”
In finding how best to translate that idea to his collection, he found himself escaping into movies such as “Dune,” “Interstellar,” and “Arrival”. Daniel ultimately took his inspiration from these movies and a multitude of different science-fiction/galaxy images. To execute his vision, he combined surrealism with a touch of existentialism to redefine what discipline meant to him.