"Some girls demand limos, others turn up at the office on a skateboard. It's that kind of 'grand écart' that I like," Alexandre Vauthier said before his show, watching the guests to his Haute Couture presentation file into the supremely high-ceilinged Arts Décoratifs, inhaling the white and woodsy floral accords in the air and making wild speculation at what this could mean. "Six collections a year, and you end up saying the same things," he chuckled. "I would prefer to remain silent, and simply provide what is on the runway as explanation for people to appropriate."
The igniter thought seemed to be an elegant take on Native Americana, an "Iroquois chic" moment. That's what the trailing fringes, furry shoe ornaments, and bugle beads brought to mind. Although the French couturier still provided the kind of leg baring outfits that made him, he introduced floor length proposals and almost demure chiffon numbers. One reading of this was that his girls, regular Lindsey Wixon for example, are growing up and reaching for front row guest Sophie Marceau's studied sex-appeal.
It's obvious that his Haute Couture nomination last year has meant stepping up to a higher plate, and by doing so, refining what was natural to him previously. Mission accomplished, considering how unlabored the highly crafted pieces looked. The silhouettes were less sharp, relying more on the tension between the bodies within and the designs than their initial construction. In short, that meant less shoulders, more breathing room, but still the high octane signature. There were surprisingly loose and leggy choices: a caftan flowing asymmetrically unrestrained; a simple white coat dress, cinched by a metal and red leather waspie; the simplest black jersey dress.
Some outfits were sensational, particularly in the dramatic set of inverted V neons, reaching down from the coming. A dress stalked by with lozenges cut out down the leg, negative spaces left by assembling fabric in a neo-bandage construction. Strips of jerseys, golden bugle tubes threaded on them and then sewn together, mirroring an inverted version of the scissored work of Adam "The Shredder" Saaks. And then there is the craftsmanship. If you ever wondered what dragon hide could look like, the alligator embroidery – 380 000 sequins, 90 000 crystals, all in gold – forming a reconstituted crocodile hide was it. Vauthier is well versed in the reality of couture today – it is meant to be worn by modern women. Ultimately, what the client demands is more about the unseen luxe details – cue the pink ink lining in a satin, flamingo embroidered satin bomber jacket – than it is about reverence to heritage. Of course, harnessing the latter makes achieving the former that much easier.
Despite catering for the resolutely "now," Vauthier will also be signing haute joaillerie designs – a teaser selection could be seen, throwing icy bling in a deep V-neck or coiled around a wrist – for four century-old Vendôme staple Mellerio dits Meller. "Every dress is a letter added to a text that is still taking shape," he had said. As far as anyone can tell, this is the beginning of a new chapter in the chic sexpot manual.
(Re)discover the Spring/Summer 2015 Haute Couture collection right here.