The second day of Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week uncovered exotic creativity from Rami Al Ali’s tropical inspirations, to “haute coiffure” with Charlie Le Mindu’s artistic visions of Paris. Schön! explored the universes of the designers who took the stage the second day, which included ILJA, On Aura Tout Vu, Georges Hobeika, and Alexis Mabille.
There is a scene in Audrey Hepburn’s Funny Face where the iconic actress parades down a staircase at the Louvre while clothed in a strapless Givenchy gown. Fifty-seven years later, Syrian-born designer Rami Al Ali reinvented the moment for us, bringing refined decadence to the 21st century. Adorned in bright colours, models in violet, emerald, canary and sapphire walked the stairs of the Louvre’s neighbor, Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs, in embroidered sequinned gowns reminiscent of Bromeliad. The exotic creations sparkled in front of bamboo-patterned screens marked with exotic leaves. Ali captured the innate beauty of the rainforest by experimenting with varying texture and tulle, to arrive at a collection as complex as the Amazon and as charming as a Hepburn film.
Roses lined the L’Hôtel d’Avaray (the Royal Netherlands Embassy to France) at Dutch designer Ilja Visser’s namesake couture show. ILJA is a couturier known for sculptural forms, sharp, prickly silhouettes, and visionary invention. Her conceptual couture collection was a shimmering success; she brilliantly juxtaposed minimal navy and peach gowns with geometric bodices and sheer, unearthly trousers. Angular outerwear with mesh collars, intricate layering and rounded sleeves coruscated on the runway in a hauntingly futuristic fashion.
This season, designers Livia Stoianova and Yassen Samouilov took a dip and explored the properties of H20 in Haute Couture. Jacket shoulders were highly ornamented with Plexiglas crystals and dresses were decorated with dripping motifs, reminiscent of aqua. The designer duo truly excelled in their accessories craftsmanship. We were wowed by a bejewelled snorkelling mask, dangerously sharp glasses, and an umbrella that rained jewels. To put the cherry on top, On Aura Tout Vu placed three brilliant mermaids on the runway.
French “hair” stylist known for creating extravagant wigs for Lady Gaga, Florence and the Machine, and the B-52s, Charlie Le Mindu transported us to an exotic cabaret. Two shaggy creatures pranced about as we entered the Luigi and Joyce Gallery, where Le Mindu’s mystical creations were displayed as fine art. The headpieces of the collection consisted of a series of tiny braids wrapped around powerful horns. Made of real human hair, both sacred and fetishist, Le Mindu’s collection almost spoke of pagan rituals. The pieces were decorated with Swarovski crystals in a delicate manner. While the designer claims he was inspired by specific Parisian monuments, we witnessed something much darker, but altogether impressively theatrical.
Inspired by the paintings of Claude Monet, Lebanese designer Georges Hobeika translated the floral hues and textures of art into runway pieces. The collection showcased a variety of wide-brimmed skirts and floor-sweeping capes, fit for a fairy-tale princess. Hobeika ensured his woman was regal in shimmering embroidered bustiers with exaggerated full hips resembling tulips. Keyhole slits and bowtie necklines created very polished, feminine looks.
Motivated by the masculine side of the feminine, Alexis Mabille’s powerful couture collection celebrated a darker, more virile woman. The French designer reimagined and reworked the traditional male tuxedo for the female form, employing verdurous velvet fabric along with daffodil-stained silk and lace trim. Shoulder-baring gowns with dramatic ruffles were bold, seductive and romantic; while a rose dusted peplum skirt, partnered with a periwinkle Victorian blouse, was ostensibly demure. Mabille manipulated fabrics and experimented with shapes to reveal that a woman does not have to dress like a man to get what she wants, but she can if she wants to.
Words / Sheri Chiu and Chloe Rash