Couture Fashion - Autumn/Winter 2016-17
Couture fashion season is like the Cool Girl to the biannual on-schedule shows – flawless, effortlessly popular and a little bit out of reach. Whether it’s the celeb pairings that get your attention – Lil Kim at Ralph & Russo, Willow Smith at Chanel – or the sheer intricacy and exquisite design of the looks on offer, while couture might be outside your budget there’s no reason why it shouldn’t feature in your wants. A girl can dream after all. These are the shows that caught our attention this season.
Iris Van Herpen
If there is one designer who represents future-facing couture fashion, we think it’s Iris Van Herpen. An expert at achieving the perfect balance between classic craftsmanship and an creative innovation of technique and materials, Van Herpen’s couture shows are a total thrill. This season the collection was designed around cymatics – a vibrational phenomena caused by sound waves that can be seen across fluid surfaces. The circular shapes and geometric patterns were arresting – a pure fusion of art and fashion – and yet somehow the Dutch designer made the most directional pieces look wearable. Even the dress formed of thousands of silicone coated glass balls creating a ‘bioluminescent prism around the body’ looked pretty comfortable.
Yacine Aoudad’s Fall 16 couture collection drew inspiration from the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, Spain, both the aesthetics of the architecture and the intrinsic message of peace in bringing two religions together under one roof. Detailed embroidery and hand stitched details, exceptional beadwork and intricate layering gave the designs the requisite couture quality stamp. We loved the injection of cultural classics – a toreador reference here, a hint at a flamenco dress there – alongside an ultra modern, simple approach to structure and seams.
Ronald van der Kemp
"I long for the days when luxury fashion was still a deeply intimate affair,” says Dutch designer Ronald van der Kemp whose latest couture collection has made us fall heavily in love with the 80s once again. From the Shoulders With Attitude to the waisting, the louche tailoring and the frequent use of a searing shade of red, this is a collection that had all the ferocity of Grace Jones, combined with an innovative approach to fabrics, textures and techniques. Van der Kemp is frequently heard talking up the wisdom of freeing ourselves from the tedium of throwaway fashion and saving up for lifetime pieces - his couture designs are enough to trigger a conversion in even the most dedicated Primark fan.
We are used to Russian cultural reference points in the collections from Ulyana Sergeenko, from the classic embroidery to the reworked peasant silhouettes. This couture season, however, while the inspiration remained firmly on Russian soil, it was vintage USSR, the era of the designer’s parents. The collection had a less expansive and outrageous aesthetic than some of the previous Ulyana Sergeenko offerings but was no less lacking in charm. Geek-chic, 1960s style, gave us luxe mod looks, tweedy tailoring, vintage prints and a garter flash or ten.
Elsa Schiaparelli once said “in difficult times fashion is always outrageous” and so thank god for the wild and wonderful circus themed collection that was presented in Paris by her namesake label Schiaparelli this couture season. Inspiration for the collection came from a similarly themed line created in 1938 by Schiaparelli herself and influenced by the works of her friend Salvador Dali. The vibrant prints, surrealist shapes and splash of the signature Schiaparelli hot pink worked a treat to distract from everything else going on in the world away from the catwalk.
Suddenly the favourite label for red carpet fashion with a dash of daring, it’s perhaps no surprise that the Alexandre Vauthier couture show was bookended with Insta- famous faces. Jourdan Dunn opened the show in khaki and black, setting tone for the Glamazonian army who followed in dark and delicious variations on the military theme, complete with luxe khakis and Top Gun worthy jumpsuits. Bella Hadid – still fresh from her Vauthier barely-there-red-gown triumph at Cannes – provided the closing strut in a heavily gem encrusted frock with virtually nothing below the hips. We have just one criticism to make – Alexandre, ditch the fur.
All images Vogue