Schiaparelli, Viktor & Rolf, Jean Paul Gaultier, Armani Prive

Haute couture is often described by designers as a laboratory for ideas as much as a showcase for the highest level of craftsmanship in the fashion world.

Fun

Schiaparelli, Viktor & Rolf, Jean Paul Gaultier, Armani Prive

Haute couture is often described by designers as a laboratory for ideas as much as a showcase for the highest level of craftsmanship in the fashion world. As such, you are equally likely to see pieces of breathtaking beauty and others that seem outright bonkers, albeit exquisitely executed.

Adeline Andre’s Performance collection managed both — models in enormous felt coats that had more than a little Bauhaus about them (a new trend?) held together with tabs and slots and then undone by two assistants in lab coats (one of whom was the designer herself) to reveal sublime draped silk gowns beneath.

Another exercise in opposing forces came courtesy of Viktor & Rolf. This time in that most utilitarian of urban wear, the khaki padded bomber jacket. Of course, in their masterful and eccentric minds and hands, it was turned into the most extravagant of silhouettes with ruffles, bows and rosettes with formidable flair.

The present trend for ruffles and pleating played out throughout the week and they don’t get much more extravagant than at haute couture. One of Ralph & Russo’s ruffled tulle skirts took up most of the runway width, while further up, ruffled collars at Armani Prive had a touch of the Pierrot about them. One of Mabille’s lighter-than-air confections offered layer upon layer of pleated ruffles, like a buoyant Vienetta.

Jean Paul Gaultier was another who played with sartorial tensions, creating haute couture versions of everyday winter knits and beanies and the humble puffa jacket. He also turned the traditional sari on its head. Usually imagined in lightweight silks for the humid Indian climate, here he offered wintry versions in chocolate velvet and even deconstructed the traditional tuxedo into something more subcontinental.

The week had more than its usual share of hats — those beanies and fur-lined trapper hats at Gaultier, conical knit hats with mesh netting at Armani Prive, tweed boaters at Chanel, grey felt trilbys at Dior and at Ralph & Russo, 60s-inspired marching girl bucket hats with chin straps that were beaded, feathered, buttoned and embroidered. No baton required.

The number of hours taken to create some of the most intricate couture pieces is nothing short of staggering. Chanel’s wedding dress finale took 1140 hours, an embroidered Dior coat 1500 hours and Adelaide label Paolo Sebastian’s art nouveau embroidered dress took 1700 hours. Probably taking the handcrafted cake is Ralph & Russo, whose sheer crystal embroidered gown took an incredible 3000 hours.

For the more historical of fashion houses, there are certain codes and references that must be kept in play, albeit updated for a modern world. Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior plundered the archives in this 70th anniversary year of the house to reinterpret specific looks from its founder, particularly tailored jackets and full skirts, while at Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld brought an update on Gabrielle Chanel’s tweed suit jacket, this time with sloped, rounded shoulders or funnel necklines.

Of course, Bertrand Guyon at Schiaparelli has some fun to work with in his archives, given the founder Elsa Schiaparelli’s love of shocking pink, art and her involvement in the Surrealist movement. This collection included traditional house motifs including lovehearts, padlocks and its beloved lobster — this time beaded on the front of a white leather moto jumpsuit. Elsa would be proud.Read more at:elegant evening dresses | bridesmaid dresses australia

fashion