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Couture Week’s New Contemporaries

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Amidst the gold, neon and fur of Versace, the sculptural Spring garden party at Dior and Chanel’s wickedly white take on a Midsummer Night’s Dream, there were lesser-known names making waves during Couture Week. Here are a few collections that kept the artisanal flames burning with old school couture and directional attitudes.

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Christophe Josse

Christophe Josse restored a little simplicity to couture with silhouettes that would have felt at home in New York with the likes of Donna Karan and Calvin Klein. But shape is where the minimalism ended here – intricate embroideries, cascading beads, pin-tucked chiffons, plenty of pleats, floral appliqué, ruching and heavy lace made for dramatically tactile textures. Fluidity and structure competed in the most elegantly feminine way, with liquid, floor-sweeping gowns contrasted with boxy capes, unyielding pleats and hip–skimming pencil skirts. The stark palette of black, navy and white was pleasantly interrupted by Springtime pastels – peach and mint adding a suitably seasonal nod to outdoor Japan, the inspiration behind this collection.

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Iris van Herpen

The Dutch designer reminded us why she is at the frontline of fashion innovation, with an electrifying (literally) collection, appropriately named ‘Voltage’, sparked from a desire to recreate lightning. The silhouettes were voluminous and structured, following the ‘wearable sculpture’ aesthetic that she has come to be known for. She showcased the ‘first 3D-printed flexible dresses’, featuring ‘scales’ and shell-like armour, dresses heavily embellished with transparent appliqué, prickly fur and metallic shards. Fantastical fabrics and ornate finishes were the order of the day. Naturally. A visual feast with a captivating concept and even more beautiful execution.

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Alexis Mabille

Now officially a member of the couture club (a club of but sixteen designers), Alexis Mabille didn’t shy away from his quintessentially French outlook on life, with dresses like pale macaroons and more froufrou than a gypsy wedding. Sugary sweet tulles, bubble gum pinks and delicate peaches were injected with lipstick red, violet and canary yellow frocks in pleated chiffon, finished with lace, netting and bold ruffles. Slim trousers, tuxedo jackets and trench coat dresses in grey and navy cut the syrupy saccharine element for a moment before it was back to modern meringues and layered, wedding-worthy ball gowns. Mabille’s signature bows were sprinkled generously throughout the collection – placed neatly on the hips, used as shoulder ties, on belts or as a neckline feature on a bright and blushing femme fatale gown.

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Yiqing Yin

Yin’s collection, inspired by Russian sculptor Naum Gabo, was a masterful example of pleating and proportion. Draped robe dresses, fitted capes, sculpted minis and tailored jackets all got the pleat treatment with subtle contrasts in colour and transparency shadowing the fine lines and meaningful panelling. Fitted or fluid, all pieces from tuxedos to gowns held intricacies in embellishment – rope details winding around waistbands, under sheer tops, falling loosely over the hips or providing the basis for an entire halter neck top. Finally, in Yin’s version of a wedding dress, a head-to-toe sculptural gown created completely from rope and string nearly obscures the wearer from view under a haze of white twine.

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