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Embellishments for Autumn/Winter 2013

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There was a smooth subtlety to autumn’s decoration that was entirely in keeping with one of the least OTT seasons of the year. The look was about sparkle that shimmers but doesn’t shout and onstage-worthy embellishments, made relevant to daytime by virtue of a casual glimmer. Delicate gemwork stylishly scattered across jeans and jumpers at Chanel and Givenchy, along with laid-back coats and weekend cover-ups at Dries Van Noten and Loewe were the perfect illustration. But don't be fooled - whilst some of these embellishments might be sedate, they still make an eye-catching statement.

With its criss-crossing cultural theme, an ostentatious Op and Pop art collision of glam and disco epitomised Tom Ford’s AW13 collection. A powerful punch of embellishment in the form of beautiful beaded flowers provided the main elements of a glittering decoration, with flashes of sequins that were paired with Pop art imagery and ladylike laces. The overall clashing creations may have been cartoonishly overblown in essence, but there was no loss of sophistication or style.

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Riccardo Tisci's Givenchy show was a whirl of enchantment thanks to divine Disney prints mixed with hints of polka dot sparkles and sleeves encrusted in shining oxblood coloured sequins. Tisci is one of the designers responsible for fashion's current fixation with the sweatshirt but, as boyish as his designs may seem, one of his big ideas this season was to put the essence on the feminine. A significant number of the looks were cinched at the waist, belted to create a provocative, peplum silhouette. And then there was the adornment - flowers and paisley bloomed and swirled on butch jackets and sheer femme skirts. The result? A grungy tomboy with a sparkling modern edge.

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A contrast of richness and poverty presented itself through the designs of Miuccia Prada. The appetite was for decoration and luxurious on-trend materials - super shiny snakeskin and fabulous furs represented the rich, whilst a sombre palette of blacks, dark greens and browns evoked a moody, deprived essence. The arrangement of gemwork in clusters seemed to awaken the darker hues, whilst a subtle glittering introduced a whole different level of gem inspiration, proving that sparkles do not necessarily have to dominate. With the two trend elements perfectly balanced, a versatile and intense look was born.

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At Giambattista Valli’s Fall 2013 Couture show, embellishment stepped away from traditional beads and sequins. The up and coming Italian fashion designer unveiled the most exquisitely beautiful three-dimensional poppies and stunning silk flowers that adorned his creations. "Flowers and colours are what women want from me," Giambattista Valli said before his fifth couture show. "That's what I give them, but every time I get inspired by something different." He divided his latest collection into neat sections, each influenced by a different country's china. Valli’s looks included tone-on-tone embroideries, sheer fabrics with the prettiest floral ornamentations and perfectly pointed peplums, oversized, with lady-like laces. The multicoloured Meissen-influenced embroideries were the real stand out pieces for us, which included red-tipped pink silk flowers cascading down one side of a tulle column, and sprays of nearly-neon pink and yellow blooms on downy white gowns that demanded a second look.

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Designer spotlight: Giambattista Valli was born in Rome, the city where his creative germination began, and in 1987 he moved to London to study Illustration at Saint Martin School of Art. After working for many designers including Fendi and Emanuel Ungaro, he became the art director at Pret-a-Porter and then showed his first fashion collection in Paris in 2005. Nearly six years after the founding of his signature ready-to-wear house, Giambattista Valli presented a  Haute Couture collection in July 2011. The natural extension of his culture, vision, and universe, the collection presented a modern concept of luxury and femininity that speaks to the wishes and lifestyle of his vibrant international, and celebrity following.

Words by Katie Farley.  Edited by GP

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