Hi to anyone reading,
Oh my god. I completely forgot there was also 2 haute couture weeks. I FEEL SO OVERWHELMED. Here I was getting all geared up for the F/W 2020 shows and suddenly it’s Jean Paul Gaultier’s last show and everybody’s (predictably) buzzing about the Jacquemus collection. I can’t keep up. But Haute Couture week is a lot less intense than the RTW shows so I suppose I should be enjoying this relative peace whilst I can.
I remember my last post about Haute Couture week opened with me defending Maria Grazia from the wrath of the internet; if Jacquemus is social media’s Lord and Saviour, this woman is the Antichrist. She’s Michael Langdon minus the dramatic flair. But the thing is, I genuinely really liked the Dior collection last time. Maybe because I was newer to the discipline of scouring Vogue Runway, but the lack of originality didn’t bother me; it was still something I’d die to wear, gothic yet delicate and relevant for 2019.
That being said, this time round, I have to open by doing the exact opposite and concurring: this time round, Dior was in fact, utter shit.
I feel mean saying it but…really? These were the slightly more salvageable outfits and my favourite of the bunch, and to be honest they don’t really capture the full extent of how outdated this collection was to me. I know that the concept behind the show was this idea of the divine feminine but Greek Goddess has been done SO many times. If you’re gonna go down that route, you have to bring something new, elevate it in some way. It can’t be THIS generic.
I can’t believe that in 2020 we’re really seeing plaited hairbands. The individual dresses are basic, but not so much the problem as the styling; they look like outfits I would’ve put together back in 2012. That’s not an exaggeration. I think even 2013 me would appreciate that you need to make things a little twisty.
The colour scheme is pretty, don’t get me wrong, and I like the cowl necks-the white dresses are the highlights. I think the concept of this collection was conceived with all the best intentions. But as a designer you need to take risks and I don’t see one single risk here; there isn’t anything that wouldn’t already be sold in your local H&M. Dior is such an established brand, Maria Grazia has room to do whatever she wants. And yet it just comes across like she’s out of ideas.
You’ve got to look at a designer like Ulyana Sergeenko:
When I say elevated (but still in the vein of wearable), I mean something like this. To be completely honest, I hadn’t heard of Ulyana Sergeenko until I saw shots of this show on Twitter. But what a perfect mix of kitsch and glamour. The influences are clear: Priscilla Presley, Barbie, Jackie O, Valley of the Dolls, the rich stay-at-home wife of the 60s, the Alessandra Rich/Scream Queens-esque sorority girl, Paris fucking Hilton. It’s exaggerated and it’s tongue in cheek with total grounds to call it trashy-there’s a corset resembling a Benjamin Franklin, ffs-but it’s all done with a wink and a nudge. And in all honesty, I just think it’s beautiful. Can you imagine Frances O’Sullivan (@Beautyspock on IG) in one of these looks? It would be worthy of the Rose McGowan cultural reset meme ten times over.
Everything is feline, from the very literal cat silhouettes and cat headed boa, to the makeup and the hair clips. It reminds me of the last RTW Ralph and Russo show but with even more attention to detail. And look at the STAGE. If this collection were a song, it’d be Disco Tits by Tove Lo. And no, I’m not just saying that because one of the dresses actually does feature a (cat shaped) disco tit. Like these are the clothes I dreamed of putting my Bratz dolls, and for null I’m sure, myself in. Absolute perfection. Plus, I’ve loved Coco Rocha since she was on The Face with Naomi Campbell; she is, after all, to thank for the iconic “check your lipstick before you come for me” line. Girl is really the martyr for all purple lipstick lovers, cut down in her prime by a pissed-off Naomi.
Onto Alexandre Vauthier, which I also really liked. An interesting yet effortless blend of the old and the new, the masculine and the feminine, if I could sum this collection up in one word, it would be cool. I know, it’s not the most descriptive, but it pretty much sums up how I feel; I’m not AS gassed about it as I am about Ulyana Sergeenko or this season’s Elie Saab (wait for it), but it’s a fresh offering, even if the styles aren’t the most groundbreaking. Stand outs for me are the almost petticoat like, debutante dresses which have Elle Fanning’s name written all over them.
I was hard pressed to find favourites in the Armani Privé collection if I’m honest. I’m not saying it was awful, all I know is that it just isn’t my style. It’s all a bit TOO tailored for my liking, and kinda reminds me of the Zara pantsuits my Spanish teacher used to wear. In other words, I find it to be a bit dowdy. On a positive note, the colours, fabrics, and beading are all stunning, so I see that a lot of craftsmanship clearly went into it; I think my biggest issue is the styling and the shapes (or lack of) on show. I’m very much getting a 20s, flapper vibe and whilst that’s an era that fascinates me and that I appreciate was cutting-edge at the time, I’ve yet to see it be bought into the 21st century in a way that doesn’t look stiff or costume-y.
Then there’s Azzaro. At the complete opposite end of the scale to Armani, it doesn’t look expensive, which I’m sure isn’t something any designer previewing their collection at haute couture week is striving for. BUT that being said, I’d be much more likely to wear something from this collection than I would from Armani Privé. I mean, I have no shot at ever wearing either but ya get me.
Whilst I’m sure it or something similar has been done before, the mesh diamanté dress is exquisite and I’m a huge fan of the stacked gem chokers and belts. The whole collection looks like something a London socialite who parties by night but (deep breath in) plays in a shitty band so fancies herself a bit of a rockstar by day would wear (exhale) and as much as that doesn’t sound like a compliment, I mean it as one. I’m talking about the kind of person you’d see smoking outside a bar and think “I wish I was them but I am potato lol”. I mean, as far as faux fur and fedoras are concerned, I’m gonna find it hard to completely slate a collection so this is pretty up my alley.
Chanel was a huge step up from their last RTW collection, imo, and probably on par with their last haute couture offering. It’s that same blend of preppy Chanel detailing (i.e the exaggerated collars, the checks and the lace) and practicality, only even more austere this time round.
It’s funny because when I looked back on original notes on this collection, before I’d even done any research into the context, I saw that one of the things I’d written was “giving me Victorian orphanage madame” as well as “something something Amish” and I wasn’t THAT far off base. The collection is, after all, supposed to be a tribute to the nuns who raised Coco Chanel at the beginning of the century in an Abbey-cum-orphanage. This makes me really happy; I know not everyone’s a fan of Virginie Viard’s nods back to the past and the brand’s origins but as a history nerd, I definitely am.
There’s also definitely a lot of things that can be translated into high street trends here: the combination of decorative white socks and black shoes is something I’ve seen making a comeback already, tulle is always a winner (I actually don’t mind it as an overlay, I think it’s pretty, sue me) and I have no doubt we’ll be seeing these dramatic collars creeping back onto tops and jumpers throughout the year. It’s been a while since they were a thing anyway and we all know how cyclical fashion is.
Another high note for Elie Saab this haute couture season; if I was an expressive person, I probably would’ve audibly gasped as I looked through this collection. It is SO FUCKING MAGNIFICENT. The colour scheme, the baroque prints, the floral sequinned embroidery, these are Cinderella style ballgowns taken to the next level. Elie Saab really is the definition of opulence and I’m not at all mad about it. Please, somebody put Lana Del Rey in one of these, PLEASE. Remind her how much of a princess she is and get her out of those “soccer mom” looks.
I’m so stuck between this collection and Ulyana Sergeenko as my favourite, and the latter might just pip the other to the post, purely because of the staging and extravagance of the presentation itself.
Georges Hobeika was predictably phenomenal. Like, I’m not going to lie, I am easily won over by some sequins and tulle, I’ve never claimed any different, and if you can expect that from anyone, it’s this guy (ignore that phrasing making me sound like his proud mother). The colour scheme is very spring appropriate and so is the 3D flower detailing, and if there’s anything good to take from Ascot and English royal weddings, Georges Hobeika knows it’s the hats.
It was another strong year for Givenchy too:
Though Claire Waight Keller is also fond of the extravagant details along the lines of feather and tulle, it’s always done in a more organic way; the details are always more reminiscent of nature, something created by accident, than they are suggestive of painstaking attention to detail, the image of someone hunched over a dress beading for hours on end à la Georges Hobeika or Elie Saab. That is not a bad thing at all; if anything, it makes Givenchy more interesting to study and gives you more to think about. Sometimes a dress takes you a bit longer to fully appreciate, but I’d say that only lends to its memorability. This year’s willowy, billowing, and at times coral-esque structures remind me of something I can see being worn down an Iris Van Herpen runway, set apart by that delicate Givenchy finesse. And side not: I know this post is to talk about the clothes, not the models, but I got super excited over seeing Sora Choi and Adut Akech walk too.
Guo Pei is always fun to look at. I mean, this collection is giving me half Matryoshka dolls, half It’s A Small World Christmas edition and I can’t hate on that.
And then there’s Iris Van Herpen, who knocked it out of the park once again. At this point, I wouldn’t expect anything less. Every outfit looks like something that could be exhibited in the Tate Modern (I know, it’s a basic opinion, but it’s true: TATE MODERN IS THE BEST MUSEUM IN LONDON), or honestly, the Design Museum, just for the genius that must go into the way these dresses move. Honestly, if I can see a goddess wearing anything, it’s more one of these looks than anything in the Dior collection. Like wife of Poseidon or something; I know it’s not very feminist of me to not know the Greek Goddess of the sea’s name but I only know who Poseidon is because I was a Percy Jackson fan back in the day so let me live.
It’s not like the whole under-the-sea theme is particularly new, Zimmerman did something similar last RTW (I think? Correct me if I’m wrong), but these constructions could’ve grown out of the sea bed themselves, which is more of an original take than “oo, blue and white and frothy hemlines!”. Additionally, we’ve got these dresses with the overlapping almost plaited fabric that are-we’re sticking with the goddess references here-fit for Persephone ruling over hell. As for the Grudge-looking dress (fourth down, far left), I could be reaching, but is anyone else seeing that as a nod to the oil spills polluting our oceans? Because that would just add yet another layer to this collection.
Regardless, it’s all impeccable and I’m in love. Iris Van Herpen as a MET Gala theme. Make it happen.
Anyway, to end on a high note, that’s it for this post!
Sorry it’s such a sudden cut-off but Jean Paul Gaultier was due to be my second to last to review and due to it being the final show, there’s an onslaught of photos that would not fit with what’s already in this post. Plus, I’d rather start a post with Jacquemus then end it as I feel like there’s a lot of hype around his collections online right now so 1). it’s clickbait (for what, I do not know, as I’m not exactly making any money off this blog, just losing my sanity as it transpires when Tumblr accidentally terminated it earlier today and I had a minor breakdown) and 2). this Steve Buscemi meme is the most accurate representation of only 21 year old me to grace the internet:
I will aim to post part 2/2 in the next week, including JPG, as I just mentioned, the Jacquemus co-ed show, Margiela, Valentino and more, and as always, thank you for anyone who read until the end! You are an angel:-)
Rowan Blanchard in Iris van Herpen