As one of the world’s most traditional events, it came as a surprise that Paris Haute Couture Week would go digital this year. Hence, they didn’t have any choice; further postponement wasn’t an option. With a promising line-up with designer houses like Ronald van der Kemp, Iris van Herpen, Christian Dior, Chanel and Schirapelli it’s an event to watch. This is the best of Paris Haute Couture Week, July 6-8, 2020.
Cover photo: © Pexels
Best of Paris Haute Couture Week
Paris Haute Couture Week is known for its traditional values and elite inner circle. That was, until today. Due to the worldwide pandemic (or should we say thanks to?) many haute couture shows are now open to the public.
Check out the official Paris Haute Couture Week schedule here.
1. Christian Dior
Couture House Dior shared a video of the making of their fairytale-like couture collection. They started the video with seamstresses focused on miniature dresses and complete outfits. They delicately created small sculptures of fabrics, beads and sequins. Soon after, the camera focused on the outside world, which reminds of a fairytale setting as well, including a mermaid peacefully swimming down a river. The mermaid approaches her friends, while two men carry a small sort of doll house to the river beds. When they open in, the mermaids and other women are curious and mesmerized by the collection that’s inside. The men head over to the forest, where they show the collection to another female creature. Several others follow, after a long path crossing the forest. Each creature is shown a different dress, but they have something in common: they are all in awe and want to touch the fabrics of the small dresses. They want to experience it. This may refer to the real life fashion show Dior will host in September, since the fashion house is convinced of the fact that fashion should be truly experienced.
Overall, the video is very original and enchanting. It shows the creative imagination haute couture can create. On the one hand, this may seem very inappropriate in times like these. However, creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri did it for good reason. With this collection, she highlights the importance of imagination in times of crisis. Matteo Garrone, director of Pinocchio (amongst others), created the film about the Dior Théâtre de la Mode. As you can see, it resulted in a dreamy video with breath-taking scenes. The dreamy scenery is very characteristic for Garonne’s work and depicts the mythology of fashion in its broadest sense. Whether future collections will also be presented through video isn’t said yet.
2. Iris van Herpen
Dutch Haute Couture designer Iris van Herpen choose to create one dress, called Transmotion. Muse and actress Carice van Houten showed it in a mysterious video. The dress symbolizes a fluid state of mind, transforming into one state to another.
The ‘Transmotion’ dress radiates in a bloom of white silk organza, layers pleated within the confines of an wavy form. Contrasted against the frailty of the sheer petals, black branches of duchess satin were laser-cut, hand-stitched and form the central roots of the garment. In a press release, Van Herpen explains the following:
“This geometric lattice recalls humankind’s inclination to tame nature. Beneath the surface, the branching also reveals the synonymity of mycorrhizal networks (the Wood Wide Web) and the symbiotic nature within human communities. Like fronds frozen in time, crystalline filaments sprout from the heart of the dress. Portraying delicate new life, black seed-like crystals punctuate the tip of each stamen like strand.”
“I was thinking about a punk princess coming out of ‘Le Palace’ at dawn,” reveals Virginie Viard. “With a taffeta dress, big hair, feathers and lots of jewellery. This collection is more inspired by Karl Lagerfeld than Gabrielle Chanel. Karl would go to ‘Le Palace’, he would accompany these very sophisticated and very dressed up women, who were very eccentric too.” This Fall/Winter 2020/2021 Haute Couture collection is clearly influenced by the abbey at Aubazine, where Gabriele Chanel spent her time as a child. The looks are marked by a lust for shimmering opulence and an excess of jewelry. The collection shows Viard’s desire to to exactly the opposite of what she did the last time. She likes to surprise, which is translated into every collection. On top of this, Karl Lagerfeld still has a special place in her heart: “I really had Karl’s world in mind…” Could it be that he’s as an angel on her shoulder to make sure she makes the right choices? Whatever it is, Viard nailed it once more.
4. Ronald van der Kemp
Ronald van der Kemp presented his “Wardrobe 12”, since the Dutch designer doesn’t create collections as such. Since 2014, the upcycling demi-couture label has been on a mission to reinvent the notion of a tradition couture house. And here they are: showing at Paris Haute Couture Week as one of the most innovative labels. Van Der Kemp: “We have been exploring creativity and playfulness with a feeling of nostalgia and a longing for the heydays of couture. With a heightened awareness and a responsibility for the planet we live on and the people it inhabits.”
The highly artistic video with Twiggy-like models evokes an instant couture state of mind. Mysterious silhouettes are alternated with strong bodies and dance moves. Van Der Kemp: “We present ‘Wardrobe 12’ through eight short movies, combined as an expressive statement about the essence of couture and the times we live in. As an extension of our recent ‘Army of Love’ performance during lockdown, where we shook up the world with a positive but urgent call to surrender to a sustainable future.” This video and collection both present fashion in its purest art form,
where uniqueness, creativity, craftsmanship, originality, love and passion come together. Combine a sense of escapism with your wildest dreams and you know what the film would look like: couture at its best.
5. Viktor & Rolf
Designer duo Viktor & Rolf presented “three wardrobes for three mindsets in these extraordinary times of change.“For these wardrobes, they made us of the current global situation in a smart way. The three wardrobes were comprised of a negligee, a dressing gown and a coat – all visualizing current emotional states. As always, Viktor & Rolf did it in a meme-worthy way. The voice-over spoke static and clear, almost parodic. Before the creation of this video and collection, the designers wondered whether a presentation like this would be suitable. After a discussion with their team, they decided to go for it. They had to do something, while staying close to their signature.
While the designers have always played with big volumes, these volumes got an entire new meaning due to social distancing. The big coats make sure that no one can touch the wearer. However, it’s nothing new for the designers, who always mockingly use many layers of fabric. Voice-over Mika was on-point when it came to the first coat: “There is a lot to feel angry about and this garment will communicate exactly that. Its striking volume and cone motif will impress and make you feel safe. The face mask by the way has won global acclaim as the smartest new accessory of the season.” This is Victor & Rolf at their best – certainly belonging to the best of Paris Haute Couture Week, once again.
Viktor&Rolf Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2020 'Change' from Viktor&Rolf on Vimeo.
Pierpaolo Piccioli already had the initial idea for this collection in mind far before the pandemic hit the world. As always, the creative director is looking for innovative ways to present his pieces. The collection – and video – merges the human and digital worlds creating a bond that is the legacy of the re-birth period we are experiencing. Piccioli: “A Couture creation comes to life only through movement, light, colours and music, but mostly through the human being beneath it, wrapped in it, welcomed by its fabric. The one who dances and the one who dreams. Couture is alive, and so is the dream.”
The teaser video was created by Nick Knight, based in London. “Our point of inspiration was the incredible pioneer of modern dance Loie Fuller, who went on to influence the Art Noveau movement, which in turn is reflected in the freedom, elegance and the grace in this collection for Valentino by Pierpaolo. Pierpaolo and I wanted to create a fashion Renaissance, totally free to speak a language based on beauty and fantasy.” Couture is alive, and so is the dream. An amazing seal of Paris Haute Couture Week by Maison Valentino.
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