This past week, Paris was abuzz with models, photographers, editors, and socialites as the City of Lights played host to the Fall 2013 Couture Week. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines haute couture as “exclusive, or high fashion," its name derived from the literal French translation of high sewing. Couture fashion transcends well beyond that, and is rather an expression of true art and fantasy in and of itself; it's a culmination of artistic vision, technical mastery, and voracious passion.
It is in the couture collections that designers can delve well within the cavernous trenches of their creative souls to express their wildest dreams, deepest fears, and greatest hopes and inspirations - all for the purpose of fashion for art’s sake. Being that the nature of couture is one of exclusivity, customization, and rarity, it is here that designers possess a true carte blanche, an opportunity to create and exhibit their visions in the purest and most unadulterated form. The absence of mass production means that the notions apparent in ready-to-wear collections - those of wearability, saleability, and functionality - need not apply.
Paris’ Fall 2013 Couture Week was no exception as runways saw it all from decadent disco divas and fairy-tale princesses, to heroines straight out of an Alan Moore graphic novel. In a bevy of colors palettes, ranging moods, and altered states, one constant did remain clear - there was no shortage of inspiration to be seen. Read on for a recap of our favorite collections presented during the Fall 2013 Paris Couture Week.
Citing the 1930's as inspiration, the Armani Prive couture collection saw decadent yet understated glamour, and Old Hollywood sophistication. The collection’s color palette fittingly portrayed the opulence of the highlife - champagne hues, pearlescent tones, and crystallized embellishments shone throughout. While pantsuits, skirts and dresses of various lengths appeared, jackets served as the focal point of collection - whether brocade, feathered, sequined or comprised of tulle and chiffon - ranging in shape, cut and size, from dainty and diaphanous to more brazen and bold.
Inspired by women of the world, Raf Simon's couture collection for the house of Dior looked to the far reaches of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe for meaning. Infusing the notion of modernity into couture, the collection saw 21st century interpretations of classic shapes, silhouettes and functions of cultural garb worldwide with plays on volume, texture and length.
Maison Martin Margiela
Containing looks ranging from contemporary (denim and leather) to vintage (petticoat skirt shapes and intricate embroidery), the Maison Martin Margiela collection was by far one of the broadest. Models donned the house's signature embellished face masks as everything from glamorous floor-sweeping gowns to sheer overcoats with playful oversized trims took the runway, all juxtaposed by knee-high lacquared boots making for a very Margiela-esque show.
Titled "The Old World and The New World", Karl Lagerfeld's latest couture collection saw his interpretation of the old American West, had he been around to outfit it. Featuring familiar shapes and silhouettes of the time period, the show saw drop waists, full skirts, hip slung belts and brimmed bonnets, in futuristic tweeds, metallics and paillettes, lending a space-age affect to the neutral pallette. Overall, the lot remained playful, veering close to - but not overstepping the boundary into - costume territory. As the designer offered of the collection to WWD, "Chanel is an idea, not a reality." Indeed.
With the Disco-era as inspiration, the French designer showcased sleek, structured lines, juxtaposed against soft and sinuous draping, in a contrasting black and white color pallette - with of course, a pop of gold. Whether in the form of hip-grazing slits, plunging necklines, short hemlines or skinny silhouettes and fur, the collection saw all the markings of decadent 70’s glam, no matter what your weapon of choice.
Aptly titled, "The Enchanted Forest," Murad's Fall 2013 couture collection seemed from a fairy-tale, featuring iterations of branch-like designs and patterns throughout. Elegant, floor-length gowns predominated in a stunning array of rich jewel-tones, while lush velvets, and refined lace silks and tulle provided a backdrop fit for a princess of even the most discerning tastes. Sheer netting, cutouts, and plunging necklines translated just the right amount of provocation to relay the idea that even royalty has a racy side.