The harsh red glow that bounced off the walls at Alexandre Vauthier felt like a stylized version of a dying sunset reflected on skyscrapers, although that couldn't possibly have been from the Parisian sky which had turned drearily rainy. It was, in fact, a very urban mood that percolated from the mirrored panels at the end of the runway (a quasi-deathtrap for those wanting to reach backstage later) and the white pedestrian stripes on the ground. The designer returned here to what he named as the starting point for his passion for fashion: Paris and its women. Come to think of it, that much was evident, from the very start as his first model stepped out, trousers and open blouse topped with a voluminous fur, to the smoking for her worn without a shirt. Only a "Parisienne" could, or would, do couture like so.
Vauthier played long and hard along that border between ultra-chic and sensuality, highlighting the latter through unusual cuts. Here, a simple looking sheath dress revealed a vertiginous slice along the back, from shoulder blade to ankle, via a very shapely derrière merely hidden by a bejeweled closure. Further along, he even continued to toy with his idea of couture jeans, reworked through cut to transcend their mundane reputation.
"It's important to understand that 'couture' is a work philosophy," he said. "These pieces can't be manufactured, but women must be able to wear them, be simple yet sophisticated. Luxury is to be appropriated." What continues to set him from the rest is the attention paid to fit, not just his pursuit of excellence in fabrication. His jackets, for example, are the hands-down winners whenever they appear. That's the by-product of a designer who is not above reworking his designs over and over again; not in a mercantile capacity, but because he genuinely wants to achieve the quintessence of it. Perhaps the downside to this is the illusion of effortlessness. Couture surely can't be this easy.
But for those who expect extravagance in couture, there was plenty. If it vaguely looked like something that could walk down a slick urban street, it was important not to forget that a deceptively simple silhouette could harbor 400 pieces of chiffon - for one of his sheer gowns - or 196 000 stones - no doubt for that little white blouson. And those pristine laser cut patterns...
It seems as if the lessons of past seasons have paid off. More than ever, his streamlined balance of uninhibited femininity suffused with masculine traits hits the spot. As his distinguishing features grow stronger, his erstwhile over-the-top expressions of sexiness fade in favor of this more modern sophisticated daywear. And for a large part of his clientele, that is precisely the appeal of the couture exercise today.