Ode to Haute Couture: La Viellle Garde

Ah – it’s that time of year again when fashionphiles like myself turn to Paris for our biannual dose of Haute Couture. Here we will see the collections of the most visionary of womenswear designers, which will undoubtedly influence ready-to-wear designers in the creation of their next spring collections to be shown in the fall. Some will even be so influenced as to make last minute swaps in the fall collections they are scrambling to prepare for the current Fashion Week season. I always turn first to Kaiser Karl – Karlito to Fendi fans – and his couture collection for Chanel to see how modern times influence the classic. The Chanel suit for daytime is a staple of any couture customer’s wardrobe. Although basically a skirt suit, or skirt and matching jacket, the Chanel suit continues to evolve in every collection. This season, the classic suit embraces modernity with geometric insets which create a double trompe l’oeil effect. The slim skirt is trimmed in metallic tweed giving it the appearance of a midi-length skirt and an above-the-knee skirt at the same time. The jacket has the appearance of a tweed cardigan covering the shoulders and hugging the bodice which features a mid-century – last century, that is – jewel neckline. The overall effect is a melding of 1950 and 2050! Dior, another favorite of mine, is unfortunately currently without a creative director. Relying on a team of creative types can often result in a patchwork of design aesthetics rather than a cohesive collection. Say what you will regarding Raf Simons and his minimalism, but he was, at the very least, consistent in his vision. The Dior collection is, indeed, chaotic this season and one of the first looks in the show appears to have been designed by a committee – a committee without a unifying mission. The look has the appearance of a game of Haute Couture pin-the-trim on the bodice! I had wanted to focus on daytime in order to analyze the fashion trends, but given that red carpet season is already upon us, my eye cannot help but wander toward the evening side of things. Givenchy, under Ricardo Tischi’s creative vision has brought the fabled house from the classic Funny Face silhouettes sported by gamine Audrey Hepburn to the rocker chic – a la Rihanna – look we now know today. The most important item this season is an evening cloak. Perhaps he was inspired by Downton Abbey’s Countess of Grantham giving her embroidered evening coat to her housekeeper Mrs. Hughes to wear to her wedding. At any rate, I, for one, will be delighted to see the cloak for evening. If only the LA social season (and weather) warranted such extravagance for evening… Finally, Jean Paul Gaultier turned to late evening for his evening inspiration and sent dressing gowns and pajama pants down the runway. This is a look I could see taking off in “laid back” LA – evening pajamas at the Disney Concert Hall. There must have been something in the Parisian air of late as even the New Guard of Haute Couture has taken up the cause. Alexis Mabille, who has a few HC seasons under his belt, sent his interpretation of robes de soir down the runway and Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli included a magnificently hand embroidered kimono at Valentino. Stay tuned for more of my Ode to Couture. In the next installment, we will see what the Nouvelle Garde of Haute Couture has to offer. A bientot! –Joseph Ungoco Photos: Vogue.com Image Layout: Fountain Of 30

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