Arguably one of fashion's most exciting and forward-thinking weeks of the year is Couture Week. Whether it was a forward thinking collection, or a new take on an old favorite, the Spring 2018 looks were nothing short of stunning. Even the simplest looks require hours of planning, designing, and sewing. These labor intensive works of art set the tone for fashion trends of the upcoming season. The major theme amongst all designers? Individuality and empowerment. Here is a recap of everything you may have missed from couture week, along with our top looks from each collection.
Iris Van Herpen
Iris Van Herpen's, "Ludi Nature" (Ludi translates to 'play' in Latin) collection is inspired by the complexity of nature, a theme evident through her sculpturesque and ethereal designs. Herpen claims, "nature is complex, technology is simple," and her playful mix between the two is flawless. Herpen perfected some of the most technologically advanced practices to create her collection from the manipulation of fabric, to 3D printing. This collection looks like a display of art rather than a Saturday night outfit, but there is no doubt that these looks will grace the red carpet this upcoming awards season. Herpen states, “I think we as humans don’t even come close to the intelligence within nature. It’s funny how people think that nature is simple and technology is complex—it’s the opposite; technology is simple and nature is complex.” She makes a valid point.
I have to admit that after seeing the first few looks of this collection, I was mildly disappointed. After reading about the fanstasy-esque sensation of this collection, the bar was set high. But once the show got going, the clothes were nothing short of glamourous. It exuded the true Hollywood glamour that some argue to have been forgotten in this age of information. Since 2015, Bertrand Guyon has taken the reigns of this surrealist chic fashion house, known for it's luxurious 1920's roots. This was his source of inspiration. The angelic and surrealist nature of these three looks is just what the world needs in uncertain times, and it is this relationship between reality and fantasy that defines the house of Schiaparelli.
Under Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior has opted for their usual feminist inspired collection and it could not feel any more of the moment. The celebration of women and diversity has had one of the biggest impacts on the world and on the fashion zeitgeist. Chiuri was one of the first designers to call on this movement and her use of black and white throughout this collection seems to symbolize the blackout at this year's Golden Globes. Her collections are designed with thought provoking concepts, while staying true to Dior's French roots and her own personal taste. “We have to think about dreaming,” she said. “In a way, it [haute couture] is our business. But if you never dream, you don’t think that something negative can change.” Her Spring collection was inspired by Leonor Fini, an avant-garde artist Christian Dior had close ties with. What captured Chiuri’s attention during her research, was how Fini used clothes and extravagant headdresses to “produce” identity. "She used her image to be regal and powerful. Surrealism speaks about dreams and the unconscious, and often about women’s bodies. It’s very close to fashion,” claims the designer. This collection was by far one of my favorites from the week.
Alberta Ferretti - Limited Edition
“My woman is poetic, she adores lightness,” claims the Italian designer. “She’s a dreamer, and women need to dream!” It doesn't get much more romantic than this silk, feather, and embellished collection. “It’s a new, stronger Ferretti,” she mused. Even the beautiful vine-ridden ivory mansion can't distract from these enchanting looks.
Giambattista Valli, who held his Spring couture show in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in the Petit Palais stated backstage before the runway show, "a lot of people in fashion right now are a little bit scared of beauty. There’s a lot of research into intellectual beauty, alternative beauty, a more edgy beauty, to break the rules. But I’m the opposite. I love the idea of something harmonious, sensual, romantic.” Rather than coming up with an innovative collection, Valli wanted to bring people back to comforting and less trying times. He put spins on old favorites and it worked in his favor. Sometimes, a nod to the past is just what we need to continue to grow. In this collection, the designer adds a contemporary spin on textured mini dresses by pairing them with a PVC boot accentuated by minimal hair and makeup,
Karl Lagerfeld went for a classic, Parisian garden setting for his Spring 2018 collection. The fashion mogul who can do no wrong was feeling very optimistic about the future of France and this guided his inspiration. Lagerfeld said he’d been led by spontaneity, without preplanning: “I’m not a marketing person; I don’t know what I’m doing in a way—it’s just a feeling.” Well I have a feeling that it won't be too long before we spot some of these gorgeous red carpet worthy gowns on some of Chanel's favorite muses.
Giorgio Armani's collection is inspired by “the sky with all its nuances.” This was apparent through the designers use of metallic fabrics and midnight blue coordinates. As always, exquisite tailoring, color, and silhouette define this Armani Prive collection.
Waight Keller spoke about a garden at night and "the idea of the moonlight catching the dresses,” as her inspiration. Keller knocked her first couture collection for Givenchy out of the park and has distinguished herself as a woman who deserves a place in modern haute couture. She firmly believes in the power of unifying women and "wanted to use the strength of tailoring, but in a feminine way." Like Chiuri, black was prevalent on the runway. One third of the collection was in the French house's signature black, while others stood out with vibrant pops of color and intricate detailing. The show also included a variety of androgynous models sporting these dramatic looks.
Speed, technology, and the chaos of modern society were the context clues of John Galliano's couture collection for Maison Margiela. The designer encouraged audience members to turn their cameras on flash and capture the vibrant rainbows that resulted from the light on the collection's signature fabric. “It’s quite scientific,” Galliano explained. “We recorded every moment of what we were making, then looked at the photographs and altered what we were doing according to the photos.” This collection embodies Galliano's take on present society and the impact technology has on it.
The fairy tale theme was very present at Elie Saab's show. The entire collection was a throwback to the 1920's in Paris, a period known as Annees Folles. In this "artistic paradise," people partied all day and night, and it is this lifestyle that inspired the show’s title, Paris est une Fête. The classic styles from this time period were reimagined with contemporary craftsmanship. If you have an affinity for over the top femininity, this collection is for you. A dazzling array of party dresses, embellished with feathers, bows, and beading inspired by art deco made up most of the looks. This collection felt a bit repetitive to me, but the glamorous theme was not lost.
Jean Paul Gaultier
This 60's inspired collection took on many architectural forms in 53 different looks. The designer takes note from the counterculture that was prevalent in the 1960's, while incorporating trends from other decades. The bold lip paired with geometric hairstyles were symbolic of the rebellious women who inspired this collection. This exciting show will no doubt attract the attention of fashion risk-taking A-listers such as Rihanna and Lady Gaga.
Viktor & Rolf
Design duo Viktor and Rolf love a challenge. That is why they decided to create every garment using only technical duchesse satin. When asked why they chose this particular fabric, they stated, “for us, it’s like an icon of couture.” This mono-material collection incorporated vibrant colors and embellished silhouettes.
Pierpaolo Piccioli’s couture looks for Valentino make a case for "wearable" couture. Piccioli introduced trousers to the runway, fit for professional and successful women. Each look is named after it's maker as a way of honoring the hard work behind the looks. What I loved the most about this collection was his unexpected mix of vibrant colors. This designer makes mixing and matching color and texture look like a simple feat and that is why this collection ranks as one of my top three of the week.
Ronald van der Kemp
This ethically produced collection is brought to you courtesy of Dutch designer, Ronald van der Kemp. Many of these looks were created with the aid of African and Syrian refugees who had fled to the Netherlands to escape their merciless living conditions. The designer was able to help thanks to the Dutch nonprofit, Refugee Company. Their unique embroidering skills allowed this designer to express his quirky, never-follow-the-rules approach to design. His label's mantra is respect regarding the materials used, women dressed, and the adoption of a minimalist lifestyle. Van der Kemp's inspiration is what the designer calls, “rebellious girls. I’d been looking at images from the 1970s of women protesting against the Vietnam War. We need the strength of women now. And I’m against people covering themselves with Instagram filters. Show yourself. You’re in charge.” This is a very real message that applies to the social media culture that impacts so much of the world today.
An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx revived one look from each of their past 40 collections together, in celebration of the duo's 20 year anniversary. The designers gave the clothes an update with fresh new styling that feel very contemporary. The collection's title, Always+Forever, perfectly summarizes the goal of this presentation while representing resilience and might.
And there you have it, all of the couture looks in one place from Spring 2018. Stay tuned for a recap of the next season's couture shows this July!