Couture is the ultimate celebration of craft, the work of the hand, the artisan, the time and detail and love that go into each piece. There’s no doubting that and it’s a wonderful thing to behold. There is just one tiny matter that trips up those of us who aren’t there on a shopping basis: less a case of having nothing to wear, it’s not having an occasion to wear said creations. Red carpet events are few and far between (!), so what’s a gal to do if she wants to dress up but has no place to go? Use her imagination. That’s where the designers seek their inspiration, after all. Let’s step inside.
The Valentino Haute-Couture Fall/Winter 2016 show, Paris, by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION
When you think about it, it’s back through time, history, that real dress-up occurred. Because clothes simply were more ornate and complicated, a signifier of social status and occasion, not a general homage to workwear as they are now. But these are the lives we live now and contemporary attire descended from workwear is de rigueur. So how magical was it to step back in time with Valentino and see the Tudor resplendence of their Shakespearian-inspired collection? These were gowns you could see at a grand banquet, taking centre stage in a grand hall, part of a grand ball. They took us to that ball, alright.
The Giambattista Valli Haute-Couture Fall/Winter 2016 show, Paris, by Régis Colin-Berthelier for NOWFASHION
It must be rather wonderful being in the mind of Giambattista Valli. The Italian designer is a master at putting a youthful, fun, and fresh spin on dresses that could be construed as saccharine but somehow never quite manage to be – which is a good thing. You can see yourself taking one of his babydoll numbers, all pouffed up shapes and shoulders, for a spin on the dance floor – you’d positively want to. And as for those of versions of that Rihanna pink meringue dress (circa last year), you wouldn’t mind trying one of those on for size – and in a different colorway as they were on show here – on the red carpet either.
The Ulyana Sergeenko Haute-Couture Fall/Winter 2016 show, Paris, by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION
The Russian designer has built her name on a certain sort of folksy dress. They’re exceedingly popular and no fashion week is complete without clocking a good few off the runway. Her couture collection moved away from this – opting for separates that took their inspiration from the Sixties, Soviet sports, youth, and technology. All of which added up to a bit of a U-turn on the aesthetics front save for a handful of especially great dresses in silver and pink that had an enchanting night out written all over them.
The Guo Pei Haute-Couture Fall/Winter 2016 show, Paris, by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION
There was something very very fairtytale about this collection from the Chinese designer who found fame when Rihanna (again) wore one of her extravagant designs to the Met Ball (and which spawned a million memes as a result). But this was a literal fairytale in the sense that it looked like the models were characters who had stepped out from the page and on to the catwalk – and precariously did so as they went, such was the height of the shoes and the vast expanse and weight of the skirts. Alice in Wonderland does couture does Cinderella. Don’t be late, it’s almost midnight!
The Giles Deacon Haute-Couture Fall/Winter 2016 collection, Courtesy of PR
The British designer is one of a string of new names to join the couture schedule this season and it makes perfect sense for him when it comes to his aesthetic, one which is anchored in a costume-esque and playful narrative. In fact, his London Fashion Week shows, full of their eveningwear, have of late almost felt ill-placed in a fashion capital where sportswear-streetwear et al has taken precedence. This was a clever move.