The word Couture is often thrown around in fashion speak but a garment is only considered Haute Couture if it is produced by a label that satisfies the three compulsory for requirements for couturiers set forth by the French Ministry of Industry and the Fédération Française de la Couture.
First the designer must accept private clients and offer personal fittings for made-to-measure clothing. Secondly, they must have a full-time workshop in Paris that employs a minimum of at least 20 people and last but not the least, they must show two collections a year that include both daytime and formal evening wear. No mean feat!
The couture shows take place twice a year, in January and July, in Paris and it is mostly an opportunity for the maison to show the artistic side of the label.
One might wonder if there’s any profit to be made from all these artistic creations by the designers but Couture is a long-term investment that is more about creating and maintaining the brand’s image and raising the designer’s profile than about seeing profit from purchases and only a lucky few can afford to own their masterpieces.
The Spring 2015 Paris Haute Couture shows just ended and true to tradition it was a feat of fabulous fashion.
Here are my favourite collections shown during Paris Haute Couture week –
For me, the beauty of this collection lies in the design and in the sublimity of the colors. The french designer went for ladylike silhouettes with ball gowns supported by underskirts, tea length skirts and sleek tops. Sheer layers meet cut outs, metallic accents and leather for a modern finish in a palette of soft neutrals, white and sheer black.
The Elie Saab label is known for their fairytale dresses and they do not stray from that aesthetic with this couture collection. Heavily embellished yet sheer, fluid dresses in pastel colours with a flower motif and print are cinched in at the waist with jewelled belts to beautiful, feminine effect.
Jean Paul Gaultier
I loved Jean Paul Gaultier’s collection which he dubbed 61 Façons de Se Dire Oui (61 Ways to Say Yes) for its weird but welcomed quirkiness. Working with a bridal theme there was something of the 70s with the snapbacks, long tuxedos and wide legged pants and maxi dresses. Lots of black and white, the texture of tulle and satin and asymmetric hems make for a collection of contrasts.
I liked this collection because it felt familiar and more ready to wear than couture. Structured silk and plisse jackets are worn over slid dresses, skirts and trousers. Oversized bows ties are tied at the waist and jackets are belted for There was a silk bazar jacket paired with flowing bazar culottes. A Bamboo motif in aides of green payed off neutral shades and black.
This collection oozes elegance. Silk faille separates, bright floral embroidery and appliqué against black and white prints, structured dresses with defined waists all topped off with a black polk dot demi veil. Layers of tulle and shades of pink and yellow contrast with sheer black for a modern edge.
Flowers seemed to be the unspoken theme at the couture shows and made yet another appearance at Alexis Mabille, this time contrasted with black and sequins to dramatic effect. Dresses in jewel colours and exaggerated details like giant bows and In this collection we see more textured fabrics used to create elaborate designs, flowing capes and bows. The aesthetics was geometrical and red carpet for me.
Ralph & Russo
This collection, titled The Awakening Of Flora, was a vision in soft pastel colors and classic white in lace and chiffon with floral embroidery and embellishments, soft ruffles and layers in simple, softly structured silhouettes. The collection had a soft dreamy feel and gave me ideas for my bridal train.
This collection reminded me of Russian dolls with structured, waist cinching dresses and separates are covered with intricate embroidery accented with tassels, crystals and scalloped hems. Feathered capes and bags adda lighter, playful note.
Similar to Elie Saab’s collection with the pastel hues and embellishments; full skirts of ruffled and layered sheer and soft fabrics, deep necklines and embellished belts make for a subtly sexy, feminine collection.
Good luck telling your tailor to imitate these beautiful pieces!
Images – style.com, wwd.com