A Play on Elegance and Eccentricity

From Sophisticated to Eccentric: Meet Chanel’s Punk Princesses

Today, Chanel kicked off the second day of Haute Couture Week by unveiling its Fall/Winter 2020-2021 collection. Captured by Mikael Jansson, the collection is marked by a desire for shimmering opulence and sophistication. “I was thinking about a punk princess coming out of ‘Le Palace’ at dawn,” explained Chanel’s Creative Director Virginie Viard in an official statement. “With a taffeta dress, big hair, feathers and lots of jewellery. This collection is more inspired by Karl Lagerfeld than Gabrielle Chanel. Karl would go to ‘Le Palace’, he would accompany these very sophisticated and very dressed up women, who were very eccentric too.”

Undoubtedly, the garments show subtle signs of the noble authority of heroines inspired by 19th-century paintings. Blacks, burgundies and deep blues are softly blended with a pop of purple, sequins, gems and pearls. A romantic essence surrounds trouser suits, corolla skirts, short and long dresses and the iconic tweed – specifically reinvented for Haute Couture. Victoriana mixes with new punk influences and gives the garments a refined elegant but eccentric aura, highlighted by contrasting fabrics and asymmetrical necklines.

A clear jump from the Maison’s last Haute Couture collection – rigorous, austere and inspired by Gabrielle Chanel’s childhood. “I like working like this, going in the opposite direction of what I did last time,” explains Viard. “I wanted complexity, sophistication.” And that’s exactly what she achieved with this collection – 30 looks enhanced by jewels, sparks and sharp lines that shine from the exceptional savoir-faire of the Métiers d'Art Lesage, Montex, Lemarié and Goossens.

Elegance ‘Royale’ at Stéphane Rolland Couture Show

As an official member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, Stéphane Rolland has always maintained his immaculate elegance in every piece he created. His extended curriculum vitae includes the names of Balenciaga and Jean-Louis Scherrer – along with a double nomination for Best Costumes at France’s prestigious national theatre awards Les Molières. 

Recognised for his statuary silhouettes inspired by some of the greatest paintings, architectures and sculptures, Rolland’s uniqueness lies in the simplicity of his designs, solemnly elevated by luxurious materials and geometrical shapes. 

Although his intention was to envision the lifestyle and aesthetics of the modern woman, the new Haute Couture Collection presents a more sensual approach, resulting in a monochrome colour palette and precious jewellery applications. The video opens with a long spiral sheath dress worn by Spanish model Nieves Alvarez, followed by a hooded spiral jacket combined with a Harem-pants jumpsuit in white crepe. Tight fittings are substituted by wide, floaty silhouettes combined with floor-sweeping capes that add volume to the outfits. Luminous tiaras in blown glass, diamonds and crystals, as well as see-through incrustations, are recurrent elements in the collection, with the purpose of enhancing the garments asymmetrical detailing.

As the video streams through, the black and white palette gets replaced by warmer colours like camel and canary yellow, amplifying the impactful effect of Rolland’s styles. His most preferred materials are once again satin, crepe and chiffon, showcased in the final bridal strapless long dress from the creamy nuances. In a deserted room, where dormant cameras are secretly filming Alvarez exhibiting her gowns, Rolland’s presence is still identifiable through his majestic creations that never fail to astonish who watches. 

Narrowing distances with Yuima Nakazato’s new Haute Couture digital project

Among one of the most innovative designers of the century, Yuima Nakazato is first in class in implementing new technologies into his haute couture collections. From sourcing recycled industrial materials for his sustainable collection launched last summer at Haute Couture Week in Paris, to replacing traditional sewing techniques with new advanced machines, the Japanese designer has never been afraid to push himself beyond the limits. 

Designing his collections with the goal of stimulating activism and progression, Nakazato’s ability is being able to experiment with digital settings while conveying emotional attachment. If his Spring-Summer 2020 Couture was all about modifiable shapes and forms from the warm, earthy tones, taking inspiration from the legendary tale of the phoenix, this year focuses on a special project, aimed at establishing a personal connection with his clientele abroad. 

The Couture Collection video presentation introduces Face-to-Face, an online made-to-order program enabling Nakazato to interact with his clients and re-design their clothes, based on the story their pieces hold. Twenty-five are the white shirts used in the experiment, playing as a blank canvas to challenge the designer’s inspiration to create brand new garments. As his clients narrate their life tales, sharing memories and interests, Nakazato is filmed while drawing sketches of traditional long silky kimonos, patched jackets inspired by Basquiat works and draped oversize blouses, all designed to match with the client’s personality and request. 

In a world where physical interactions have been replaced by virtual conversations, Nakazato’s collection represents the designer’s eagerness to reconnect with the world – exploiting his creative vision to examine new sustainable practices, as well as making Haute Couture accessible to everyone.

 

Fatal Glamour and Vivid Colours at Alexandre Vauthier

Ever since he showed his first collection for Haute Couture week, Vauthier has been often criticised for his unusual way of exploring luxury. But, after working for Thierry Mugler – a specialist in the architecture of clothing – and after his involvement with Jean Paul Gaultier’s couture line, Vauthier got to know the working methods of the greatest couture houses and learnt that haute couture is, in fact, not dead but that it just needs to adapt. 

Pin-pointing the designer’s idea of fashion can, at times, be hard. Many ideas tend to coexist within one single collection – but his strength lies in a sort of fatal glamour and desire to sublimate women. And, for Fall/Winter 2020, his distinctive dressed-up aesthetic was recognisable in the deliberate mash-up of uber-chic disco queens and extravagant French women.

Throughout the collection – briefly presented via a 20-second VHS-style video by Albert Moya – the French designer pays homage to the ‘80s and their eccentric aesthetic. Exaggerated shapes intertwine with neutral blacks and vivid pops of colours; the combination of extremely long sleeves, puffy trousers gathered at the ankle, metallic dresses and ruffled hems with feathers, sequins and chiffon shows a couture collection capable of perfectly marrying luxury and extravagance. Vauthier’s woman becomes then a hybrid of glamour and surrealism – her sharp yet sensual elegance is effortlessly shown through a blend of chic tuxedos and sexy evening gowns, a look that so fittingly represents the designer’s iconic aesthetic.

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