Just what is Paris Couture Week you ask? Well, firstly all garments called Couture must be made by hand, in fact if a piece can be made by machine it cannot be considered Couture. Secondly, the company must have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time. Finally, each season (twice a year) they must present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear. These regulations are controlled by law through the Federation Francaise de la Haute Couture and few designers can ever hope to become members of this elite group. Now that I have your attention, let’s roll out some of the best of day one.
If I never felt like a cocktail, this show would have me at the bar in no time. Wait a minute… perhaps because I drink too many cocktails I was drawn to heading to a bar… never mind. Either way, the crowd was blasted with citrus colours. Vibrant yellows, sunset oranges and lime greens swanned up and down the stairs at the show. In true Atelier Versace style, the silhouette of woman was celebrated in strong, sensual form. Bodysuits were adorned with metal aztec cutouts, while dresses were cut thigh high and accented with asymmetrical pleats, sheer paneling and beading.
After quite a tumultuous year, all eyes were on the house of Christian Dior which I felt lacked the imagination and genius touch of it’s former director. Dresses embraced a 1950s vibe with full skirts, cinched waists and off the shoulder pencil-slim dresses that emphasised fragile femininity and made me want to say ‘Eat ya Heart Out’ to Audrey Hepburn. Once again sheer fabrics and embroidery were prominent. The knock out pieces? The full length Prom dresses complete with hoop slip skirts.
I’m completely mad for texture. A sprinkle of glitter here, a dust of feather there, a lashing of lace anywhere! Giambattista Valli speaks to me like no other designer can – except THE Valentino and Galliano who are both out of the game. Each piece has that perfect made by hand level of luxury that women swoon for. I simply couldn’t pick a favourite… and won’t even bother spoiling such beauty with words.
Bouchra Jarrar Moved away from figure hugging feminine silhouettes and delved into the fine art of tailoring alongside flowing, draped dresses giving us a fresh take on Parisian minimalism. Relatively new on the scene, but certainly not new to fashion, she acquired her skills working under Nicolas Ghesquiere at Balenciaga for ten years as well as working in Christian Lacroix’s couture studio for 18 months before starting her own line. Her focus was once again on keeping it simple, letting the clean lines of the impeccable tailoring speak for themselves, with the only accents being on double breasted, brass button military jackets and backless gilets and fur loop scarves.
In January 2011 Christophe Josse was promoted from guest member to permanent member status by the Federation Francaise de la Haute Couture. Although his inspiration came from the Museum of Islamic art in Doha, the setting of the show – held at the beautiful 19th century Salons France-Ameriques – gave an extraordinary touch. Exquisite gowns sashayed down the runway in a palette of peach pastel, pearl grey champagne and cream, offset with bright fuchsia pink and iris violet.
The most interesting award definitely goes to Alexis Mabille. I guess the phrase ‘blooming wonderful’ applies to his show aptly. Models adorned giant flower headpieces and matching coloured faces. Every colour of the rainbow was used, and then some. Dress coats came in all forms and fittings, from short and loose to Edwardian. Column dresses were accessorised with frills and flamenco-like sleeves, while other dresses took on a more regal approach.