Haute Couture: Fall 2016

Is it me or is Haute Couture week getting shorter and shorter every season? Yet, I feel they are constantly adding more and more shows.  I dunno..

This, as with the last SEVERAL seasons, has been a bit of a sleeper as far as the WOW factor is concerned. It’s like couture designers just don’t care about making a statement any more. I get that they have to pay the bills with wearable pieces, but at one point, the clientele is going to catch on to the fact that they are showing thirty-thousand dollar jackets that look just like the eight hundred dollar jackets selling in the stores.

There is no life to the collections any more. Even heavy-hitters that used to stun and shock have slipped into repetitive navel-gazing. There used to be an excitement to the couture collections. There used to be a buzz about the clothes. Now-a-days, the press is all about kissing designer ass and who was spotted in the front row. It’s a shame.

Maybe I’m just too hard to please, but for better or worse, here is my take on the Fall 2016 Haute Couture collections.  I’m not doing a turkey list this time because the season was more middle of the road than deep end; however, I have mixed in a few one-liners for your enjoyment.

All pictures are from NowFashion.com.
They have the BEST coverage of all the collections, check them out!

Schiaparelli

Schiaparelli, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

Billed as an homage to Sciap’s original circus collection, it honestly felt like more of a pastiche. There were the obvious nods to the famous embroideries and motifs, and of course, the beading and embroidery were impeccable, but I can’t help but feel that Guyon (the current head designer) is just going through the motions and is afraid to strike out on his own with the collection. Hopefully he’ll stop rummaging through the archives soon and get down to giving this house its well-deserved update.

On Aura Tout Vu

On-Aura-Tout-Vu-Couture-Paris-FW16-2865-1467639829-bigthumb

When you want to look cute, but also value your personal space.

Like a good sauce, it’s best to let it reduce to bring out its finest flavor. This season, the Vu team did just that. They stuck to their usual, nonsensical whimsy, but in such a low key, the collection almost seemed quiet. Of course there were the usual insane embellishments and textiles (I really want to know what that translucent gray stuff is), but overall it worked. I could do without their obsession with insect legs, but I’m glad to see them still on the calendar and being themselves.

Dior

Dior,Couture,Collection Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

Dear house of Dior, why the Hell are you dragging your feet hiring a new designer? I mean seriously, your ready to wear is more exciting, and that’s not saying much. This collection was so boring and unimaginative, I worry this will be the norm from now on. Hire someone already. It’s really not that difficult. In the meantime, stop pumping out this lifeless crap. Thank you.

Chanel

Chanel Couture Collection, Fall Winter 2016 Fashion Show in Paris

“No no, I WANT the dress to make it look like I’m carrying around a spread-eagle gorilla on my back. It’ll be chic!”

MY GAWD this collection was ugly – horrible cuts, nothing fit and all of the embellishments looked like afterthoughts. I mean, Karl has had some clunkers, but I don’t remember seeing anything this bad in a long time. Save for ONE dress, this season is absolutely forgettable chez Chanel, best to avoid it.

Julien Fournie

Julien Fournié, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

OK, I’m sold. Yeah, it was a bit obvious, but this season at Fournie was great. Beautifully simple in its delivery, each look had a desirability that screamed elegance. Interesting embellishments, beautiful cuts and even though it was a little on the predictable side, each exit was a class act. Odd that I’m getting excited about a designer actually doing his job correctly, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. Bravo!

Stephane Rolland

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I love it when designers do what they do well. Rolland knows how to sculpt fabric into undulating confections of wearable sculpture better than most designers on the market today. He rarely strays from his beloved black and white, and in any other hands, I would probably call a repetition penalty, but when he works his traditional magic, the delivery is anything but boring. Cool cuts, BEAUTIFUL sheer insets and refined embellishments knock this season out of the park.

J Mendel Couture

J.Mendel Couture Fall Winter 2016 Fashion Show in Paris

And I’m calling this dress the “Landing Strip.”

Pretty weak debut for someone of Mendel’s clout. The guy already designs expensive clothes, what was the point of marking them up further? If you want  an evening look in need of a Brazilian, you should definitely make an appointment for a fitting.

Givenchy

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Well, at least they showed something. Givenchy has been off the calendar for a while now, and I kinda see why. Tisci (the current head designer) is usually a great couture designer. I normally  love what he does,  but this season was, uhh… interesting? Half the lace looked like kitchen curtains and this pleated number is dumpy at best, but overall… oh who am I kidding? It was boring and uninspired. Look, I get that he’s been in ready-to-wear mode for a while now, so I’m going to let it slide, but step it up Ricardo. You’re better than this.

Maison Margiela

Maison Margiela, Fashion Show, Couture Collection Fall Winter, Paris

Maison Margiela, Fashion Show, Couture Collection Fall Winter, Paris

Is it a dress? A blanket? An off-the-shoulder bathrobe? All of the above? Who knows, but that’s kinda the point, huh? Galliano has been at the MM helm for a few seasons now, and manages EVERY DAMN TIME to merge his sensibilities AND that of Margiela’s traditions – confusion, experiment, found-object and history. I honestly think that Galliano getting fired from Dior was the best thing that could have happened to him.  At Dior, he was bound by a legacy of restriction. At MM, the only thing that restricts him is his imagination. Odd, yes, but that’s right in step with the mood of the house.

Elie Saab

Elie Saab, Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, Saab is best when he turns to the dark side.  This collection was so deep, rich and mysterious, by the time the blush and nude colors finished the collection, you almost missed them in the darkness. The cuts were experimental for the house, if not grounded in Sabb technique, the embellishments, even though beautifully decadent, were almost architectural, and the styling was clean and classy. It was like fairy land in a black out, and frankly, I hope Saab keeps cutting down the power lines. I have no idea what that means, but whatever, the collection was great.

Gaultier Paris

Jean Paul Gaultier, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

Well, it was better than last season. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good collection, but JUST good. With a dark forest theme, Gaultier cleaned out his techniques vault and cranked out familiar shapes and embellishments with a modern edge.  There were elements from past shows, like the beautiful, pleated leaves on Chrystelle’s dress that harkened back to the late 80’s/early 90’s, and familiar shapes, like the structured suits of his French can-can collection and the wide brimmed coifs that were direct patterns from his Mongolian travelers collection. It all felt comfortable, but still lacking in forward creativity. There were a few missteps, like those bizarre flaps dangling from the fronts and backs of like 20 looks, but still, there was a richness to the pieces. He could stand to step away from the Grés pleating for a change, but I think this season gave me a little hope for the Gaultier future.

Viktor and Rolf

Viktor&Rolf,Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

A trip to Goodwill, that’s what I’m calling this collection. That might sound like a bit of an insult, but it really isn’t. The Dutch duo likes to over-explore one theme with their couture collections, and this season they choose weaving as their starting point. Not intricate jacquards or twills, but rather a terribly simple over/under plain weave.  Taking odds and ends off the racks, they cut up then re-weaved mismatched scraps and ribbons to give very simple clothes, VERY artistic textures. They raided the random button jar, and covered every conceivable surface in thousands of the fasteners.  Beautiful tulle layers and blown together embellishments gave this season a welcome uniqueness that their past few collection have been lacking. Overall, a great step forward.

Zuhair Murad.

Zuhair Murad, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

This guy does embroidered tulle probably better than any other designer working today. I mean, there’s sexy, and then there is Murad sexy. The goofy cowboy hats that adorned 60% of the models were missteps -honestly, they looked like an afterthought, but OMG these were some of the best looking bodices I have seen in a very long time from him, or any other designer.  I’m not sure classy and super sexy belong together, but if they do Zuhair’s got it all sewn up.

Valentino

Valentino-Couture-FW16-Paris

OMG PLEASE MAKE ANOTHER DRESS PATTERN ALREADY!! WHO NEEDS THIS MANY OF THAT ONE CUT OMG PLEASE?!?!! Now that that’s out of the way, this collection was rich in it its simplicity. A romp through the middle ages cum Renaissance, there were high, ruffled collars, doublet bodices and plenty of restrained elegance to pass around the medieval banquet hall. Revolutionary? Not at all, but there was such a fine, edited eye placed on this collection, I was forced to acknowledge it. The design duo that heads up Valentino does one thing VERY well, they design a collection.  Yes, they can repeat cuts ad nauseam, but they are so damn good at editing and staying true to the house’s objectives that, even though I hound them, I secretly respect them for what they are doing. SHHHHH! DON’T TELL NOBODY, Y’ALL!!! In conclusion, I hate it all and love it at the same time.

Armani Privé

Giorgio Armani Prive, Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

Giorgio Armani Prive, Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

WHO’S THE LEADER OF THE CLUB THAT’S MADE FOR YOU AND ME? M-I-C…  Oooohh, you know the rest!

As usual, Armani put me to sleep, and as usual, I’ve given up caring. The same old, same old per Girogio; I honestly wonder how he stays in business cranking out clothes that look JUST LIKE his ready to wear collection. Oh well, I’m going back to sleep. G’nite.

Alexandre Vauthier

Alexandre Vauthier, Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

Normally I ignore this house. I mean, it’s got its moments, but over all, it’s just sexy, rock-chick clothes; however, this season saw a slight bit of refinement, and that was worth noticing. Yeah, there were the usual “up to there” splits and sex-kitten cuts, but maybe, juuuust maybe, Vauthier is cleaning up his act. I don’t need him to clean it all up, I mean, sex pays the bills, but little numbers like this go a LONG way to showing customers that naughty can be refined.

Adeline André

Adeline André Fashion Show, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

In the year 3562, this is what doctors will wear into surgery.

Let’s face it; André has been doing the same thing for decades now. And by “doing the same thing,” I literally mean DOING THE SAME THING. You could pull a look from her first season and mix it within the lineup from the current season, and you would have NO idea that it was from the archives.  She refuses to stray from her path, and that is her strongest attribute. It is platonic and clean to the point you wonder how she’s stayed in business for so long? Yup, but within that, you have to admit that her body of work looks nothing like anything else on the couture runways, and for that stick-with-it-ness, I applaud her.

Ulyana Sergeenko

Ulyana Sergeenko, Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

When you get dressed in the dark, but still have to ride your moped to work.

I mean, yeah, I don’t know why I ever expect this collection to make ANY sense, but here we are. It was bonkers, as usual, and I’m just so very tired of that. The clothes are ugly, the styling is goofy as Hell and none of it makes a lick of sense. Sequined bathrobe? Check. Bodysuit? Check. Dad’s shoes? Check. Goofy-ass garter belt with matching tights? THAT’S A BIG OL’ CHECK! This is what an unstable old lady wears to the grocery store when she runs out of her medication. Only I know the old lady didn’t have to drop the better part of 40,000 dollars to buy it.

Atelier Versace

Versace Atelier, Fashion Show, Couture Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

This collection is difficult for me because I’m totally on the fence with it. On one hand, I applaud Donatella’s experimentation with the draping and the cuts, on the other hand, it all felt a little too derivative of other designers’ work.  I mean, if you told me Haider Ackerman had taken over the house, I honestly would have believed it. There were some beautiful pieces, like the one pictured, where the house nailed it, but others just felt rushed and unfinished. I dunno, I’m giving it to Versace for the step forward, but maybe refine and edit the collection a bit more in the future.

OK, that wraps up the season for me.

I’m going to be working on some showpieces and will update you all with progress pics as soon as I make some progress.

Toodles!

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Paris Haute Couture: Spring 2016

Haute couture week (well, Haute Couture Three Days) is but a memory and there was plenty to chat about.

I’m switching gears this time, so rather than do a good and a bad list, I’m going to just toss them all together and make one great big fashion cocktail.
There are fewer and fewer shows each season, it seems, so it’s getting more difficult to justify the division.

Anyhoo, here is the best and the worst of the spring 2016 haute couture season, according to me.

Comments follow the pictures.

Ulyana Sergeenko, Fashion Show, Couture Collection Spring Summer 2016 in Paris

Ulyana Sergeenko

My God this collection was ugly. I get that you want something different, but there is an insanely fine line between original and stupid. Cuts were so convoluted, it’s like she thumbed through a book on technique and just pointed to part of the mannequin and said, “SEW THAT THERE!” Other designers explored the 80’s this season (heavy nods to Bowie of the 70’s too) but those designers knew to steer clear of the jagged rocks that were 80’s clichés. Unfortunately for Sergeenko, she sailed her pastel painted yacht directly into the rocky shore with reckless abandon.
Different? Yes, but dang girl, dial that crazy back a few notches.

Frank Sorbier, Couture Collection Spring Summer 2016 in Paris

Frank Sorbier

Once again Frank Sorbier takes us on a lyrical journey through design, and what we learn from this exercise is that telling a story from bits of cloth and embroidery, doesn’t have to be a literal endeavor. Working mainly in beige (yeah I know, but trust me, it was nice) dancers and models paraded around a stage in unimaginable fabrications that echoed the house’s mainstays – texture and restraint.  Beautiful, interesting and above all, true to form, Sorbier knows how to keep things grounded without them going stale.

Valentino, Fashion Show, Couture Collection Spring Summer 2016 in Paris

Valentino Couture

Well, it was pretty.
And of course, the atelier knows what they are doing, but DAMMIT, could you guys PLEASE start experimenting with cut? I mean seriously, how many sloper bodice dresses does your clientele need? I really appreciate the workmanship, but damn, buy a new Vogue pattern already!

On Aura Tout Vu, Fashion Show, Couture Collection Spring Summer 2016 in Paris

On Aura Tout Vu

I love these guys. I don’t often agree with their clothes, but when they skipped last season, I genuinely missed them. As usual, it was nonstop nonsense on the runway, and as usual, some of it was a mess, but honestly, for a house that doesn’t get a lot of press, part of me is really happy that they don’t give a damn about it, and make the clothes that make them smile. Does any of it make sense? No, not really, but compared to the more established houses, these guys know how to have fun. Having said that, this collection was bonkers; and frankly, that makes ME happy!

Maison Margiela, Fashion Show, Couture Collection Spring Summer 2016 in Paris

Maison Margiela

Galliano hit the nail on the head again at MM, that crazy, mixed-up, almost illegible nail. The collection was, per usual, a mélange of sartorial bric-a-brac and atelier savoir faire, but as experimental as these pieces are, and let’s face it, that’s the house’s bread and butter, it’s a little bit difficult to get a sense of who the customer really is. There were plenty of bankable looks, but the lion’s share of the collection is firmly planted in the outré. Still, the cuts and experimentation exceeded my expectations, and will probably send the inspiration surging, right up until next season.

Schiaparelli, Fashion Show, Menswear Collection Fall Winter 2016 in Paris

Schiaparelli

How do you take your tea? That was the obvious question chez Scap this season. With tea pot embroideries and a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables covering almost every stitch, it was difficult to contemplate anything else. Twee to be sure, but it felt comfortable, balanced against the history of the house – almost too comfortable. The shapes were obvious and that last passage of mousseline dresses seemed like the fashion record kept skipping with their repetitive cuts and drapes. Still, it was nice to see the atelier having a little fun, if not terribly over-organized fun.

Jean-Paul-Gaultier-Spring-Summer-2016-Paris-8150-1453907241-bigthumb

Gaultier Paris

At this point, I feel Gaultier is just hand beading his ready to wear. The house knows how to cut a dress, and they really know how to put on a show, but where the hell is the couture? I saw pajama pants, bath robes, and the same tired ideas that Jean Paul has been cranking out for years. I used to turn to this house for wild inspiration and innovation. Now, it just seems like he’s reliving his heyday. Every designer deserves that relaxation for a season or two, but Gaultier can’t seem to shift gears anymore. A fun show to be sure, and of course expert craftsmanship, but nothing new to speak of.

Versace Atelier, Fashion Show, Couture Collection Spring Summer 2016 in Paris

Atelier Versace.

The restraint in these clothes was outstanding. Each look was a study on how to pull in the reins on luxury. The first group was sportswear inspired. The models looked like haute couture track stars in pure white with accents of hyper fluorescent pinks and yellows that darted around the body like laced up tennis shoes. The evening group was spectacular in the quietest way possible with beautiful trompe l’oeil sheers that I honestly couldn’t tell weren’t flesh. The finale tuxedo on Gigi summed up the collection best -simple, elegant and above all, modern!

Viktor & Rolf, Fashion Show, Couture Collection Spring Summer 2016 in Paris

Viktor and Rolf

Oh dear. Look, when another house does haute couture faces just a couple of seasons before you, it’s probably best to avoid that subject for a while. Unfortunately for V&R, they hugged that theme it to death like Elmira squeezing the life from a hamster. Looking like Picasso rejects, the clothes (and I use that term VERY lightly) paraded out like whitewashed Guernica subjects come-to-life. I mean really, at this point, I’m just going to tell them to drop the pretense of being couturiers and just start making museum pieces, because honestly, that’s the only place these pieces belong.

Dior Haute Couture Spring Summer 2016 Fashion show in Paris

Christian Dior

What a hot, steaming pile of fashion dog crap this collection was. Look, I get you’re between designers, but dammit, you CANNOT design a collection by committee! It’s impossible. There has to be a masthead and a director with a clear goal. This season felt less like a collection and more like “let’s take all the crap that fell on the cutting room floor and stitch it together into a silk chiffon nightmare that no couture client would be caught dead wearing.”
Too harsh? Nope; it was that bad. Honestly, it would have made the house look better if they had just skipped a runway show and hired someone to design already, because until they focus. and stop trying to recapture the glory days, this house is going to remain a stagnant mess.

Chanel, Couture Collection Spring Summer 2016 in Paris

Chanel.

Sorry, I just woke up from a nap. Wait, that wasn’t a nap; that was the latest Chanel collection. My friend Lori said it best when she used the term, “mumsy,” to describe this season for Coco and company; and I honestly, think that term describes this collection to a tee. Dated shapes, tired fabrics and a lack of innovation didn’t do this collection any favors. The whole thing was an exercise in complacency. And for a house like Chanel, with Karl at the helm, there was no excuse for it.
Oh, wait, I thought of another word – boring.

Pieces worth mentioning…

Ralph and Russo

Ralph & Russo, Show Couture Spring Summer 2016 Collection in Paris

Pretty. Just pretty. I mean, they crank out dresses that make the prom queens weep, but honestly, that’s all they do. Nothing interesting, nothing new, just… pretty.

Stepahne Rolland

Stephane Rolland, Fashion Show, Couture Collection Spring Summer 2016 in Paris

THIS DRESS! OMG! This is freaking HAUTE COUTURE!! Too bad the rest of the collection was mediocre.

George Hobeika

George-Hobeika-Couture-SS16-Paris-4713-1453727628-bigthumb

Again, just pretty. But I did like the innovation of this cut. The lace bolero/capelet/train thing is different and interesting.

Alexis Mabille

Alexis Mabille Couture Spring Summer 2016 Collection in Paris

Good collection, it just felt a little static. I do always love his model selection and I’m giving it a nod if for nothing more than this model’s perfect attitude.

Yanina

Yanina, Fashion Show, Couture Collection Spring Summer 2016 in Paris

OK, so the ballet theme was obvious and spammed almost to death, but dammit if I didn’t love this look. Not the first time we’ve seen ballet figures on a dress, but this one was just fun.

OK kids, that’s it for a little while.

I’ll be back as soon as I can think of something interesting to post.

(FYI, all images for this post are from nowfashion.com.  It’s a great resource for fashion shows with up to the minute collections. Seriously, check them out!)

Haute Couture – Paris, Fall 2015

I’ve been absent way too long and frankly, that ain’t no good.
I’ve got a lot of updates in the works, but first, we must deal with the chaotic debacle that is Paris Haute Couture Week.
It’s off to a lumpy start, so I think it would behoove us to take this hurricane of insanity in little bites.
I’ll try to update the week on a daily basis, but as usual, I promise nothing.

Here’s a run-down of the nonsense, so far:

Ulyana Sergeenko

Coquettes lost in a Russian fairy tale. Yup, you just read that correctly. I can’t think of another way to describe this season for her. I honestly don’t understand her design aesthetic. It’s one part naiveté, one part ineptitude, one part poetry and one part WTF? There are lots of ideas here, the tiered circle motif on the pleated skirt being one of them, but none of them blossom into any semblance of a fulfilled thought. I feel that she does her best when she stops trying to impress people and starts focusing on the cleaner aspects of making clothes. Like a good sauce, you reduce and reduce until the simplest of flavors is revealed. Unfortunately for Sergeenko, one or two groovy elements in a reeling circus of confusion, does not a collection make.

Christian Dior

OMG WTF RAF?!?! I don’t know what grade of whisky you inhaled before designing this collection, but you either need to up your game or get off the juice altogether. Who the Hell wants this shit? I don’t know if you were channeling Dr. Frankenstein or you spilled ink on your sketchpad, but dammit, do some justice to the history of the house. At this point, I can’t tell if you are just messing with me, or if you really have no clue how to design a cohesive collection. I’m voting for the latter. To paraphrase John Waters, these clothes are so ugly, you can’t wear them with any sense of irony. Yes, there were a couple of pieces in the collection that were serviceable, but dammit, that’s just not good enough.

Atelier Versace

You know, I’m going to let his collection slide. It was such a departure for Donatella, I’m going to chalk it up to a grand experiment and give her some credit for branching out. Did the fabrics work? Well, no. They did nothing for the cuts. Were the embellishments of a couture level? Well, yeah, but she relied on the selvedge fringe a little too much. Did the cuts reflect well on the house? Yeah, but they could have been a bit more refined. Having said all that, there were a hell of a lot of ideas here, and I ‘m kinda looking forward to where she takes next season.

Schiaparelli

Well, this being the new designer’s first season, I’m willing to give him a pass on a collection that looked like a romp through the house’s archive. But, in all fairness, who can blame the guy? If I had keys to that warehouse, I’d be doing the Scrooge McDuck money dive into the clothes too. There are plenty of looks to entice new customers, and frankly, that’s all this house has going for it. They have a new designer every season, and for brand marketing, that’s probably not a good idea. Hopefully this guy will stick around long enough for the ink on the contract to dry. In the meantime, we can look at some beautifully rendered reminders of Schiaparelli’s illustrious past.

More to come…

Paris Haute Couture Fall 2014: Part 1

This season, I think I’ll try to keep up with the collections instead of just posting a wrap up at the end. I’ll probably give my final thoughts, but for now, I’ll keep doing updates. Rather than make a good/bad list, I’ll just post my thoughts on the various collections as wholes. (Although, I doubt I’ll pass on the opportunity to compile the misses of the season. >;)

Versace. OMG!! THIS COLLECTION WAS AWESOME!!!!! Seriously, it was damn near perfect in its presentation. The cuts were spot on and the the color story was dark and mysterious. I haven’t been in love with an Atelier Versace collection since Gianni died and this season renewed my faith in the house. Absolutely brilliant!!

Schiaparelli. OK, I’ll admit, I kinda liked this collection. It wasn’t all smooth sailing,  but I think it held true to the house’s roots. There were plenty of surreal moments and lots of surprises. Stephen Jones, as usual, did the hats to perfection. You might think that some of these are a bit goofy, but honestly, I can see Elsa herself designing them. I can live without the monkey fur jacket on the squirrel dress, but dammit, I love that print!

On Aura Tout Vu. This collection was refined and like a good sauce, reduced to the core elements that make it delicious. The colors were dark and somber, like looking at crystal-lined cave, on the edge of the sea, through fog.They really have fun with embellishments, but this season felt restrained, in a good way, and that really worked in their favor. J’adore ce collection!

Fred Sathal. I haven’t seen Sathal’s work in a long time, but I see that she hasn’t lost an ounce of her charm. She is known for taking terribly simple shapes and embellishing the Hell out of them. She definitely has a signature look, but it never feels tired or obvious. This was a pulled together season for her and I look forward to seeing her regularly on the Haute Couture schedule.

Dior. I am so very tired of Raf Simons at the house of Dior. He has no clue how to design anything beyond the same five shapes he always makes. Frankly, if you’ve seen one of his collections, you’ve seen them all. It was boring, obvious and frankly, glorified ready to wear. I have only one thing to say about it:

Christian Dior, Couture, Fall Winter, 2014, Fashion Show in Paris fry