Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Haute Couture, haute plaisir - Day 1

Drum roll, please, because that magical time of the year is here. And no, as much as I did enjoy Christmas this year, it's certainly nowhere close in magical terms to the beautiful weeks of Paris Haute Couture. With a drab weather outside and no hope for an early spring coming around, tell me please, what could be more beautiful, more satisfying or more exciting than to behold the magic of a true interpretation of spring's lightness of spirit by the most masterful of couturiers?

And so it began, proudly aligned with the stars on my birthday this year, the best present of all. And I confess, I am, since yesterday, mesmerized and giddy like a little girl in a fairytale dollhouse. Christian Dior was the first show I saw and it set a great tone for the week, with its fresh outlook on spring classics. This was a collection of subtlety - the subtle merging of minimalism and joyful exuberance, of sharp lines and romantic embellishments, of modern cuts and classic style. I appreciated the deceptively simple lines complemented by the refined reinterpretation of Dior florals, the gentle evolution from the dark colours in the beginning of the show to the strong palette of any rebirth of nature and then onto romantic pastels, as well the marriage of strong masculine elements with the fragility of the feminine.

Giambattista Valli, on the other hand, walked a different road - a collection of sculptural shapes with basic colour schemes and a fresh reinterpretation of the traditional. Valli opened with a stream of classic-cut coats and dresses with a contrasting monochrome visual which felt at the same time dramatic and simple. As the show evolved, so did the aesthetics to a perhaps confusing mix of rigor and an edgy view of the floral patterns associated with spring. This couture collection felt as if it was speaking to a newer, younger generation, which wishes to break away from tradition in a respectful way and craves for a "live in the moment" philosophy in an ever-lasting environment. Contrasting, yet completely appealing.

At the other extreme, Alexis Mabille was a show of frilly playfulness, of girlish craftmanship and whimsical interpretation of couture. The collection was a vision in pink, with the delicate and otherworldly silhouettes of dolls dressed in waves upon waves of sheer chiffon, lace, satin and layers of veil. While beautiful in its attention to details, the collection felt like it was lacking a common aesthetic backbone. But, as it is the first time Mabille is playing at the grown-up table, we'll call it acceptable and await with interest the next game.

Drawing inspiration from the mazes of Tokyo streets and the sobriety of the Japanese society, Christophe Josse presented a collection of intricate embroideries and refined trimmings that adorned a mostly duo-chromatic ensemble. A balancing act of unconstricted lines and an ascetic aesthetic, it was the very apotheosis of simplicity and calmness. 

A bit of Asian inspiration was also visible in Maurizio Galante's work, from the use of traditional Japanese fabrics to the kimono-like details of some of the ensembles, fused together with a bohemian and subtly negligent aesthetic. The clothes spelled freedom and individuality, with an almost antagonistic mix of fluid silhouettes with stricter geometrical cuts and embroidery. An interesting match altogether, without a doubt, but somehow very deja-vu and, as such, not quite what I would call memorable.

Perhaps the most electrifying show of the day was, however, Iris van Herpen's. And a very literal interpretation of the word it was.“Inspired by a childhood dream, a desire to understand control and re-create lightning,” the Belgian designer made a visual impact with her 'Voltage' collection and its presentation which featured a living sculpture with what looked like purple lightning passing through her body. The dresses were a testament to imagination and innovation, with complex designs which seemed to have come from a half-nightmarish future and created the illusion of independent movement. A true sight to behold.

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