At Couture Some Like It Hot!

The humidity fills the room full of dressed-up models, sequins, slinky gowns, ears that sparkle, and tuxedos whose shirt collars tumble down to the knees; backstage, it’s a race against time to keep the glamour from wilting. And for all the times it must be great to be a model, there are other times, like today when it’s about 34 degrees, that it can’t be quite as much fun.

Azzaro Fall/Winter 2018 Haute Couture show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

On the first day of Paris’ couture fashion week, clothes, ironically, are just about the last thing on anyone’s mind – or what they want to be wearing right now. It’s really hot. Close. Muggy and sticky. And while onlookers take it as a topic of front row conversation in their billowy, breezy wardrobes, recall that couture is about craft, form, and detail, which mostly requires being fitted.

 

But at Azzaro, it’s about a balance. Maxime Simoëns, the young French designer who took on the contemporary-heritage house as creative director in March last year (succeeding Arnaud Maillard and Álvaro Castejón who left the label in 2016 after three years), has been successfully combining modern and wearable designs with the as-required sparkle that is a) the DNA of the brand founded by Loris Azzaro in 1967 and b) a generally accepted couture prerequisite.

 

Simoëns had been travelling and it was the idea of the Amazon and the tropical that got him to thinking this time round: palm foliage spilling out from the catwalk’s entrance, to be found later on, also, as starbursts of shimmer on sinuous gowns, swinging as leaf-like strands.

 

Backstage at the Azzaro Fall/Winter 2018 Haute Couture show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.


“Like getting really sweaty,” he all too appropriately said backstage. “Tropical rain, that was the idea. Really sparkling like always, as that is the DNA of the brand and we must respect that, but sexy too.”

He pointed to one jacket in particular, hanging on its rail ready in wait: “We can see it through the chain.” White and a little more than derriere-skimming, its top was joined to its hem via a waterfall cascade of chain, and it later featured as a technique on a dress, too. “We’ve tried to do some minimal things and some more showy. It’s about striking a balance; it’s not unwearable.” Which is something to note.

 

According to the designer and his PR, last season did incredibly well, which isn’t too surprising – because at Azzaro you’ll find pieces that have a ready-to-wear appeal but that are created by these incredible techniques. It’s this that feels modern to a backdrop elsewhere of heavy and overly orchestrated gowns that not necessarily everyone has occasion for. Simoëns is appealing to a younger couture clientele and if, as the conversation so often goes each couture season, we’re to talk about the future of couture, if it’s relevant, if it’s doing well, if it can survive, etc. – then surely this is an important appeal to make.

 Azzaro Fall/Winter 2018 Haute Couture show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.


“I’m more confident,” said Simoëns. “Not that I’m shy about my creations.” But, let’s remember, couture is a scary thing. “Exactly,” he laughed.

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