In light of the unrest in the Middle East, threatening the cultural heritage of humanity, Stephanie Coudert proposed a collection with a vivid poignancy that broke hearts and knit souls in unison. From her personal recollection, she drew memories of Iran and Iraq, the reaches of Ancient Persia, and of the feminine figures she encountered there. Firstly, her mother, whose vivid orange dress was evoked as a warm coral number with a skirt made to swing in the hot desert breeze. A black jacket cascaded into a shawl. A dress with a cardigan-like detail to the shoulders and arms over it made for a gently moving picture with its sunray plissé.
Tip-toeing like ballerinas, these delicate figures glided to the sound of cithars and tambourines. More than the high-octane couture of other designers, Coudert offers a vision of loveliness that is supported by intricate constructions. A closer look at the legs reveals that brightly-hued colored chaps are in fact leggings, sewn with a diamond pattern extending above the knee. Delicate fabric is joined with more sturdy crepe for a trompe-l'oeil effect. Elsewhere, pattern cutting takes on the precision of a surgeon when curving down the ribcage or, as seen on the superb yellow coat of the penultimate exit, along the arms to give them a soft cocooning curve.
Likewise, a smattering of prints appeared. Flower ones were sweet, but the lashings of red and black paint on creamy white fabric felt like a powerful evocation of the archaic trichromatic palette of early human vision; white, red and black are also an intensely feminine symbolism, the minimum to convey her, in kabuki or Snow White: pale skin, dark eyes and red lips.
Coudert's rise to couture has the markings of a fairy tale: plucked from the relative obscurity of a devoted private clientele and drawn into the rarefied world of public presentations. But nothing of the charm of her earlier creations has been lost in transit. "Creation as link and tool for liberty," she wrote in the most beautiful note of the season. In all its poetry, it was an intensely personal account of femininity as only a woman designing for other women could have delivered.