For the past few years, the debate as to the relevancy of the craft of haute couture in today’s culture and society has been raging. In a week usually dominated by ball gowns, tulle, and delicate floral embroideries, it was a breath of fresh air to see some designers push the boundaries and notions of couture to finally squah the debate. Couture is relevant, but not in the way we once knew it.
Sure, Dior, Givenchy, and Armani have been seeing constant growth in couture sales the past few years, but the old practice of couture is just that: old. This week we saw strength. We saw reason. And most importantly, we saw progression.
We knew Raf would change fashion as we knew it when he inherited the reins at Dior. Now, after a consecutive year at the house, he has started to do just that. His most recent was the most apparent in this journey however. Raf is the pioneer of the new “minimal couture” movement, if you will; however, this was not his strongest step forward, but he did manage to show us what he was capable of and how he planned to continue to shift our industry on its axis.
More successful, were the efforts of Bouchra Jarrar (pictured). Her refined, elegant, and subversive collections make her a powerhouse. One that understands the new dimensions and realities of the couture business. Not only can she cut a mean pair of pants, but she creates garments that people not only desire to wear, but actually will. Her mixture of modern yet classic daywear silhouettes comprised of the most luxe textiles take menswear silhouettes and inject not only femininity, but subversive qualities are what make her couture’s most prominent rising star.
Armani is a man who has been lost for the past few years. His collections have been full of overt whim and excessiveness. This is precisely the notion of couture that cannot exist any longer, and Armani finally wised up this season. Once again we were reunited with his chic and sophisticated take on some of the most luxurious clothing in existence, this time all in “Nude”. The tailoring that he has become synonymous with was finally staged as the focal point, excelling the collection to heights we had all been hoping for sometime now. Brava, Mr. Armani. It’s great to have you back in the game.
Under the direction of Piccioli and Chiuri, Valentino has flourished. They have taken the romanticism and old-world elegance once briefly associated with the house’s founder, and blown them up into new exciting and delicate dimensions. They know how to put their atelier to work and create pieces of art that take hundreds of hours to execute. However, they too have previously stuck to the old notions of what couture is and should be. It was just this season, with two looks comprised of double-faced and double-bonded camel cashmere, cut into New Look silhouettes, and enhanced with exaggerated princess seams, that it was understood: they get it. Fully and whole heartedly. Those two looks stole the show, and they would be wise to implement more of this refinement into their future collections.
Viktor and Rolf came up with a serene and peaceful couture collection that played on the elements of meditation, earth, and balance. The mere 20 looks they created were all done in a spongey black silk that gave way to structure and volume. Most notably, was look 9 a simplistic architectural dress that solidified the debate as to the future of couture and where the craft should be headed. A strong and definite return, indeed.