The Show Must Go On

Ready-to-wear fashion shows by top brands are often elaborate star-studded affairs. Haute Couture shows, however, take the glitz and glamour to an entirely different level, and Paris' currently on-going high fashion extravaganza is no exception. 

Speaking of glitz and glam: over his 50-year-long career, Jean Paul Gaultier has excelled at staging fun-filled Haute Couture shows at his headquarters on rue Saint-Martin. On a less joyful note, however, the iconic French Couturier has announced that his upcoming runway show will probably be his last. 

In an official statement, Gaultier explained that his Spring/Summer 2020 Haute Couture show at the Théâtre du Châtelet will be the last one of its kind — and, therefore, the last one of an era. But the iconic designer is looking forward to new beginnings: "This will be my last show," the designer stated in an official release. "But rest assured, the Gaultier Paris fashion house will continue with a new project that I have initiated, and that will be unveiled soon." 

Despite of Jean Paul Gaultier's official exit from the Parisian Haute Couture calendar, it looks like independent Haute Couture brands are here to stay. Tomorrow, the French-Moroccan designer Bouchra Jarrar will make her comeback on the official runway calendar, after a 4-year-long hiatus. Julie de Libran, for her part — who has already hosted an intimate, off-schedule presentation of her new Haute Couture brand last season — is also a new addition to the Paris Haute Couture Week, and will present her collection tomorrow as well, soon after Jarrar's highly-anticipated return. 

The real highlight of this second day dedicated to Haute Couture was undoubtedly Alexandre Vauthier. The French designer showcased a range of glittering mini dresses and appealing evening gowns. His show made for a cheerful statement, one that celebrating exuberant femininity, neat tailoring, and joie de vivre – with model-of-the-moment Bella Hadid and the iconic Eva Herzigová walking down the catwalk to cool music beats. Marking Vauthier's renewed collaboration with Amina Muaddi, models had their feet adorned by pointy, animal-printed boots and highly-feminine heels handcrafted by the Jordanian-Romanian shoe designer. 

Blending tailoring references with luxurious embellishments, Azzaro's latest Haute Couture collection — that was showcased yesterday — explored subtle graphics and floras with generous volumes. Some Haute Couture numbers stood out for their refined take on craftsmanship. They featured elongated silhouettes marked by a high and belted waist, as well as open, more assertive and flirty V necklines. Sleeves were also part of the main focus: they were either balloon- or pagoda-shaped and meant to accentuate the collection's fluid structures. 

Earlier today, Stéphane Rolland's show was a feast for the eyes. The French designer offered an elegant Couture wardrobe based on round, circular cuts and highly-feminine, voluminous shapes that made for sophisticated silhouettes. They were adorned with sculptural embellishments that put an emphasis on the waist- and the neckline. Standout cocktail numbers included strapless chiffon dresses and caftan-shaped ones. 

Finally, one must note that Ronald van der Kemp made a strong Haute Couture statement today — once again. He invited his audience to celebrate the joys and freedoms of emancipated femininity. The Dutch designer is reputed for his one-of-a-kind designs: every piece is handcrafted and upcycled from vintage fabrics. And as such, he can most certainly be considered to be the most in tune with his times. His must-have looks included a lapis lazuli blue ball gown that was marked by a high waist, as well as a knitted, long-sleeved ivory-hued dress that was embraced by figure-hugging, draped fabric applications. 

So far, the latest Spring/Summer 2020 Haute Couture offering has been satisfying — and the runway shows are not about to stop. Inaugurated by Schiaparelli, and soon closed by Imane Ayissi, this Haute Couture week seems to be quite a promising one, to say the least.

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