Paris Haute Couture is the stuff that dreams of made of, and always a feast for the eyes. Fall 2019 couldn’t be any different. Celebrities and fashion lovers invaded the French capital to see the most fantastic collections. While I going through all the shows to prepare the highlights of my favourite Haute Couture catwalk shows for you, I’ve just realised that there’s been a shift in the fashion world and three of the most influential houses are now headed by women.
Virginie Viard’s debut couture show for Chanel was an ode to the elegant signature looks of both Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld. After working alongside Karl Lagerfeld for 30 years, Viard knows like nobody else the craftsmanship of the talented “Petites Mains” of Chanel’s ateliers and created luxurious designs with embroideries, and feathers and organza ruffs that reminded Lagerfeld’s high-collared shirts. All in all, it’s a romantic and ultra chic collection with tall and narrow silhouettes with mandarin collars, tweed coats, nonchalant wide trousers worn with flat shoes and beautiful satin cocktail dresses.
As we have come to expect, Maria Grazia Chiuri opened her Fall 2019 couture show for Christian Dior with a slogan T-shirt dress that read “Are Clothes Modern?”, which is the title of a 1947 essay written by the Austrian-American Bernard Rudolfsky. The writer analyses some aspects of fashion that he thinks are not only useless or ugly but also harmful for women, such as pointy-toed shoes that hurt the feet. Inspired by his book, Dior’s creative director designed the woman-friendly sock-shoes the models wore on the catwalk. Chiuri found old samples of fine mesh in the archives of the French house and used them for the Stephen Jones head veils the models wore and also in the bodice and skirts of the evening gowns, which gave them volume and lightness. The collection was mainly in black to focus on the silhouette, texture and details.
Pierpaolo Piccioli has managed to outdo himself with his fabulous couture collection for Valentino. The front row was a show within the show, Celine Dion, Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Campbell were some of the famous guests, and on the catwalk, models from all ages like for example, the beautiful Lauren Hutton, in her 70s and Cecilia Chancellor, the embodiment of the British It Girl, now in her 50s. Piccioli presented so much beauty in this collection that it’s impossible to choose one favourite look. The surprising combinations of colours like ochre, lilac and yellow or citric green, purple and prune were stunning. And the craftsmanship of Valentino’s atelier could be perceived in the gorgeous draped taffeta dresses, the floral appliqués that took 990 hours of handwork for just one dress, the feathered coat and gowns with wool fringe.
After two years at Givenchy, Clare Waight Keller, one of the favourite designers of Meghan Markle, presented a sensational show. The designer explained that she wanted “to push it into something that has a little more theatre.” Her idea for this collection was “ an anarchic woman that comes through the chateau and all the elements that you’d find there ” hence the title of the show; “Noblesse Radicale”. Waight Keller created voluminous taffeta dresses with feathers that sprout from under the skirt, capes, and gowns with pleated silk, lace and fringes that are not only theatrical but also fabulous.