The fourth and final day of Paris Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2016-2017 Fashion Week exposed marvel after marvel. From Jean Paul Gaultier’s vegetal nymphs to Viktor & Rolf’s vagabonds fashioned from recycled fabric, haute couture week reached its ultimate creative climax today. We were also blown away by Bowie Wong, Franck Sorbier, Elie Saab, Antonio Ortega, and Zuhair Murad.
With every passing season, Bowie Wong seems to figure out what’s right for him, and then capitalizes on it. The Australian couturier has really come into his own, employing his background in costume design as a catalyst for his dramaturgical, liberating, geometric forms. Wong’s latest couture display was a cylindrical conceptual delight with an alluring dark side; a galaxy of globular outerwear orbiting like inky planets with mohair markings. Wong’s eclipse was illuminated in a tufted nylon coat that signified an unlit moon. Torsos were embellished with enlarged orbs and mesh bodices were attached to three-dimensional ring-shaped skirts. For the Truffaut-esque finale, Wong’s bride wore black.
On the rooftop terrace of Hotel Raphael, streamers lined the hedges, along with rainbow pinwheels, giant paper sunflowers, and pink candy at Franck Sorbier‘s runway performance. It was as if we had fallen into the Land of Oz, with the Lollipop Guild that followed. A procession of little girls dressed in multi-coloured dresses took place. Sorbier then presented a passionate crimson dress on a teenager, and black garments on all the women. The collection of lace and felt exuded a Russian charm from folklores. The stark metamorphosis of the fresh and joyous young girl to the sombre dame in inky silhouettes could perhaps demonstrate Sorbier’s view on the loss of childlike innocence as we mature.
A couture cabaret, the rhythm of New York City crooned in jazzy urban velvet smoking jackets and in glimmering gowns embellished with golden doves at Elie Saab. A sky-scraping feat of extraordinary magnitude, the Lebanese mastermind climbed to new heights, with his intricately wrought jewelled chokers that were worn with Veronica Lake-esque structured blazers, highlighted with velveteen trim and flaxen embroidery. Luxurious draped dresses mirrored the city’s magnificent skyline— inky pleats and narrow halter bodices manifested modern-day Manhattan vamps. While a long sleeved violaceous frock emanated 1940’s Copacabana resplendence. Saab designed mother-daughter sequined lace gowns with butterfly and bird motifs. Starburst crystal detailing peaked onto shoulders, while a heart motif sprinkled down an ebony lined filmy sheath — a live piano played, as Saab unveiled plum negligées — a bluesy nod to a city where dreamers never sleep.
Antonio Ortega tapped into retro-futurism for his Fall/Winter 2016 collection in sequinned polka dots and floral applications. Inspired by the memory and love we give to those who have passed, the Mexican designer utilised flowers and pious images that were laser-cut and placed on jackets, coats, and dresses. Violet and cardinal red were woven throughout, while gold and silver injected a luxe feel to the garments.
Only Jean Paul Gaultier can get away with making you sweat. Inside his iconic headquarters and couture venue, it was… hot. The heat however, followed us onto the runway, where Gaultier exhibited scorching autumnal silhouettes packed with woodland splendour. Earthen tinted patchwork fur augmented his eclectic forest of elongated silken jumpsuits and kimono-like outerwear mirrored fine-grained pale wood. Bonnets circled like rings from aged trees in grassy feathers and olive crotchet, to match leafy chiffon gowns packed with a 90s oomph. Astrakhan and beaver quietly emerged on a leather biker jacket and a lush velveteen cape; while an aquamarine fox head encircled a blood orange cat suit finished with virescent beadwork. Gaultier’s wildwood couture landscape was a-highly cultivated, interactive jaunt through copper plume terrain.
Titled “Vagabonds,” Viktor & Rolf’s new collection focused on recycling as a form of expression, demonstrating a thoughtful approach and a concentration on conscious designing. The creative duo used handpicked fabrics and garments from past Viktor & Rolf collections to create confetti constructions and voluminous garments of ruffles. An element of fairy-tale is thrown into the mix as visions of a chic Mad Hatter began to form. Fabrics are torn, reworked, and woven together to construct a quilted effect of textiles. The tattered looks of olive green matched with sky-blue jeans exuded the charm of a wanderer, a roamer, and dreamer of cities. Explosions of tulle skirts added an element of princess fantasy to the story. Viktor & Rolf went against the grain of our typical idea of haute couture and offered a fresh interpretation of handcrafted, recycled fashion.
At Zuhair Murad, a magenta runway set the stage for a Bohemian cantata of diaphanous draped gowns in deep shades of purple, crimson, and honeydew —the iconoclast creations were amplified with bell sleeves — for the free-spirited, sensual sojourner. The eclectic homage to maverick couture subsumed patterns from byzantine flora and fauna in crimped silk and velvet. Wide brimmed felt hats and tropical airy dresses were meticulously imbued with calypso ornamentations. Flamingos decorated sheer scarlet bodices and beaded lace vines spread on lengthy ebony caped confections. Murad, known for his radiant evening wear, proved that he is more than just a designer of pretty dresses — he is both a conductor and an inventor of garments that ooze rhythm and soul.
Words / Sheri Chiu and Chloe Rash