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!)

Paris Spring 2016

Au revoir, mon Paris, until next season.

The Parisian shows are a thing of the past and I have to say, the city of lights gave us a bit more sparkle this go-round. There were a few duds, but only because the collections were more than predictable, rather than serving goofiness (we’ll get to those turkeys in the “worst” list later).

So, here is my take on the best that Paris has to offer.

Agnovitch

Agnovitch

It might just be that I gravitate towards this kind of cutting, but I find the Agnovitch team refreshing in fashion right now. They have a definite point of view that fails to waiver, and because of this, their presentations are consistently different from the rest of the pack. This season was bit moodier than past, but delivered the same, smooth lines and angular distinction that we want from them. I have no idea who their customer is, but there will be plenty on the racks to choose from when they supplement their existing wardrobes.

Chloé

Chloe

WHAT? Why is a Chloé collection in my round up? Hmmm… let’s just go with it and move on. Yeah, with the installation of yet ANOTHER designer at the house, the collection FINALLY has a foothold on the right track. This collection brought us a brilliant blending of house traditions and refreshing takes on basic separates, all the while keeping its thumb firmly on the pulse of what a modern woman wants to wear. That’s not easy in design, so I’m giving credit where credit is due. I’m actually excited about the coming season at Chloé. Let’s hope they can keep this momentum up and deliver in future collections.

Dries Van NotenDries

Oh Dries, you little scamp! You know how to make me smile!
Don’t get me wrong, not every look in this collection worked, but I’ve always said the best collections have both hits AND misses. The cuts were often influenced by the 1940’s, and that throw-back styling played brilliantly off of his acid-bright prints and ethnic-influenced textiles. This, of course, is nothing new for Van Noten, but what sells the look is his mastery of it. In any other hands, the disparate elements of this collection would have floundered; however, Van Noten knows how to take disconnected thread and weave together and irresistible tapestry his customers are all to eager to wear.

Maison MargielaMaison Margiela

The blending of Galliano and Margiela is less like apples and cinnamon, and more like John Hurt and the face hugger from Alien. Whether or not he wants it, the face hugger is taking over and Hurt’s just along for the ride. John Galliano IS that face hugger. That creative, brilliant, genius face hugger. What does this mean for the house? Well kids, it means we’ll continue to receive collection like spring 2016 – a bizarre alamgmation of deconstructed beauty, couture and innovation, filtered through the eyes of one of fashions greatest mad scientists. Off-kilter, cluttered and unique… at this point I can’t tell if I’m describing the clothes or the man himself.

McQueen
McQueen

Perfectly wearable. Yup, I just typed that. This season Sara Burton delivered a collection so salable, I had to check the URL to make sure I was watching the correct designer. Every piece, even the stitched leather looks, could easily hang in a shop. Although, in all fairness, they won’t hang long because each exit on the runway was pure perfection and should sell in a heartbeat. She kept the house’s traditions alive all the while injecting a healthy dose of femininity into every look. Soft, pale colors were slashed with punches of oiled, black leather and intricate sheers over nude bodies.
Simply put, this collection was a hit.

ValentinoValentino

What the Hell, Valentino? Just when I was ready to write you guys off, you bust out brilliance. Yup, I said it, brilliant. They STILL need to move beyond that sloper bodice and A-line skirt cut they have glommed on to, but overall, this collection was beautiful. Heavily influenced by Africa (Val himself revisited the theme several times) the design duo churned out piece after piece of smartly crafted culture. I could live without the model’s cornrows, but past that, the collection was smooth in its delivery of what could have been a convoluted mess. The overall color mood was dark and somber, but within that, the variety of textures gave it a life and energy that only a skilled atelier, like Valentino’s, could handle.

WestwoodWestwood

Yeah, I know, it’s a guy in a dress, but hear me out. This season proved that Westwood’s vision is alive and well. The design team, with Dame Viv at the helm, took us on a romp through the archives of collections like Pagen and Coquette, with a clearly re-worked, modern sophistication. No one will ever accuse Westwood of playing it safe, but there seemed to be a clean comfort in revisiting the house’s heritage, even with the goofy showpieces. I know it’s silly to mention, but you could feel genuine emotion coming from some of the clothes. Not everyone will understand this season, but what makes it to the stores will definitely have her customers begging for more.

Coming soon, the season’s turkey list!

Haute Couture – Paris, Fall 2015. Le Finale

The good, the bad and the WTF?
Well, I’m cramming it all into this last post for the haute couture season that was Fall 2015.

What a long, strange trip it’s been!

First up, some overlooked collections that really deserve more credit that the mainstream press is willing to give them. That’s a shame because they really do hold their own.

Frank Sorbier

No one, and I mean, NO ONE spins poetry like Sorbier. His collections aren’t grand like the couture powerhouses, but there is still a decided richness that exudes from every stitch Sorbier sews.  The guy knows how to create magic and this season, we were transported to a wintery wonderland complete with stark white forest and ballet dancing fairies. Each exit was a delight in various values of white and cream. As the models mugged for the camera, grand arabesques exaggerated the brilliant textiles and cuts Sorbier is known for. This is the purest example of couture you’ll find. Sorbier is a genius as weaving a narrative with cloth and this season was no exception.

Georges Chakra

Ah, the 50’s. I remember them fondly… from old movies on TCM.
This season, Chakra took us to a cocktail party flooded with radiant divas tripping the light fantastic, in glorious party dresses, drowned in rich detail.  The only real criticism I have of this show was that there could have been some tighter editing. It felt a little top heavy as he tried every couture technique on the planet; I’m not opposed to technique, but sometimes there are too many options. Still, the collection is beautiful and offers a ton of choices for any would-be client.  As I looked at the pictures, I found myself saying, “Oh wow, that’s beautiful,” more than any other collection this season., so there must be a method to his madness.

Rami Kadi

OMG THIS COLLECTION WAS SO COOL! OK, so I have a thing for insects on dresses. It kinda started with the roach dress Ricki Lake wears in Hairspray.
Don’t judge me.
Kadi took the idea of the creepy crawlers and turned them into the stuff of legend. Using embroidered insect motifs, Kadi worked in light reactive fibers, so when the surrounding lights are dimmed, the magic of glow-in-the-dark thread illuminates the bugs in a phosphorescent green haze. Against the black backgrounds of the gowns, this house shows us the possible future of couture. I don’t usually like gimmicks in design, but I’m giving this collection a pass because I can’t see that anyone else has ever done this on this level.  Apart from the light tricks, the cuts of the looks were fantastic. Even in the light of day, this tightly edited collection holds its own against more established lines.  I can’t wait to se what next season holds for Kadi.

OK, now for some honorable mentions:

Julien Fournie

Julien Fournié Couture Fall Winter 2015 Fashion Show in Paris

This collection was dark and moody. Perfect for fall, but overall, it felt a bit run of the mill. Sill, there were some beautiful looks to be had.

Valentino

_UMB4710

Serviceable and OMG so much black! I think Taroni must have had a sale on black silk because I have NEVER seen a season so rife with darkness.
For being shown as the hallmark to the new flagship store in Rome, this collection sure was lackluster. It felt like they were going through the motions, rather than pulling out all the stops and showing what the Valention atelier can do.

Fendi Couture

_FEN0966

I honestly don’t see the point of this collection. It’s not like Fendi doesn’t already make forty to fifty thousand dollar coats. Did they really need to double the price for a few customers? Anyway, always experimental, there were some beautiful techniques in this collection, but overall, it just seemed flat and lackluster, and for coats that can top the charts at the cost of a four bedroom house, you wonder what all the fuss was about.

Zurhair Murad and Elie Saab

It’s gotten to the point where I can’t tell these two collections apart.
Seriously, if these looks had been shown in one collection, you’d be just as confused.
Admittedly, Sabb has been doing the “color group” presentations longer, AND both collections were beautiful, but damn, it almost seems like a waste of time to review the both of them separately, so I’m not going to until the they remember they are individuals.

And now, all the steaming hot messes NO haute couture season would be without:

Alexandre Vauthier

Alexandre Vauthier Couture Fall Winter 2015 Fashion Show in Paris

Sure, the fringing technique is a neat idea, but the “Late 70’s hooker on payday” look has got be a hard sell.  I mean, damn, for the price, do you think this frock comes with a street corner and a limo partition?

Charlie Le Mindu

Charlie Le Mindu Couture Fall Winter 2015 Collection in Paris

Remember that week you skipped the bikini wax? CHARLI SURE THE HELL DOES!!! Damn girl, I see in the last election that you voted for Bush! And just what every woman needs, MORE BOOBIES!! Only these can be removed for easier washing.

Christian Dior

Dior Fashion Show, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2015 in Paris

Dear God, how long is the model’s neck? She might actually be part giraffe!
This collection was so ugly I can’t understand how it got produced. It’s like the top brass at LVMH refuses to be corrected and replace him. So, they let Simons loose in the atelier to spite the detractors.
Raf is like the little kid who can’t draw, but begs his mommy to put his artistic monstrosities on the fridge. Mommy knows it’s crap, but does it anyway, then gives him a cookie.

Stephane Rolland

Stephane Rolland Fashion Show, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2015 in Paris

Wow, what happened this season chez Rolland? The collection, presented on one podium, was terribly underwhelming. Included in the mix was this little number reminiscent of the Flying Nun’s habit coming in for a landing.
I’m all for experiment, but that collar looks like frozen paper towels.

Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier Fashion Show, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2015 in Paris

I honestly have no idea what Gaultier was thinking with this look. Flattened roadkill? Rorschach test? Bear relaxing in a tide pool after a long day of gathering shells? Your guess is as good as mine. I can’t imagine how much this thing weights or where you’d wear this to. Hell, if nothing else, that skirt shape would work well as an entry room throw rug.

Ilja Couture.

Ilja Couture Fall Winter 2015 Fashion Show in Paris

“I’ll take the shapeless, poo-brown coat with blue velvet sleeves and the bizarre chiffon top that vomits cascading ruffles from my gut, please.”  – SAID NO ONE EVER!!

Yanina Couture

Yanina Couture Fall Winter 2015 Fashion Show in Paris

This collection wasn’t that bad, but HELLOOOOO TITTY!
You think if she jiggles, the two birds will look like they are fighting each other?

Ulyana Sergeenko

Ulyana Sergeenko Fashion Show, Couture Collection Fall Winter 2015 in Paris

This is what happens when you let a blind clown design a dress for your collection.

OK kiddos, I’ll be back soon with updates, class schedules
and a whole lot of nonsense!!

Haute Couture: Spring 2015

The State of the Union: A Dress

Another Haute Couture week is done and dusted and all I can say is, DAMN! That was boring! I gave up counting the pastel gowns after 100.

There are always a few happy moments here and there, but this season was the quietest in a while. I’ve noticed the decline of the “exuberant” designer in the past few seasons and I think it all finally came to a head for spring 2015.

The big trend (if you can say that couture has trends) was black and white. Yup, that good, old fashioned staple of EVERYONE’S wardrobe – boring black and obvious white. Don’t get me wrong, when done correctly, it can sing and elevate the simplest garment to the stratosphere, but honestly, what haute couture client needs ANOTHER black suit?

I’M TALKING TO YOU, JEAN PAUL GAULTIER!!!

Let’s face it, the haute couture salad days are more than likely gone; Hell, even Galliano’s debut at Margiella couldn’t save the sinking ship that is the state of creativity in Paris. I used to look at the couture shows for inspiration and joie de vivre, but now I just see a handful of designers going through the motions, trying to tread water. We are in desperate need of a belly-flop splash in this milieu.

Haute couture has never been about making money. It is, in and of itself, a money loser. In my tenure on this Earth, I can only think of a few designers who operated in the black with haute couture. It’s expensive to produce and sucks a ton of resources. Making these show pieces has always been about realizing the designer’s most intimate, fashion dream.  There have always been suits and “simpler” pieces in the collections, but when designers of the past did them, there was a life to the clothes – those garments had soul. Designers today just seem to be interested in catching a Hollywood starlet’s eye so they can lend her a dress on the red carpet.  Admirable enough for a photo-op, but at what point do you take a look at the house you’ve made and really understand its worth and meaning?

Whatever.

My opinion, as always, doesn’t matter, but I hope a few designers take some notes on the season and start to remember what fun couture can be.

This season was too mediocre to recap it all, so I’m just going to focus on the looks and houses that made me take a second look, for better or worse.

On Aura Tout Vu
You gotta hand it to these guys; when they do funky, they do it with such aplomb and personality, you’re often left wondering what you just saw and whether or not it was just all just a dream. They definitely play by their own rules; and frankly, I applaud them for that. Do all of the looks work? Well, no, but in a season of complacent monotony, a jolt of fun is very much a relief.

Frank Sorbier
I find that there a few designers that truly understand their craft and really hone in on what it means to be an haute couture designer. Frank Sorbier tops that list. He is consistently solid in his delivery and knows what his customer wants without becoming obvious and repetitive. I could have dealt without the smoke machine effects, but this collection was so pulled together and well-edited, I had to pay attention to it. He’s like Marc Chagall and a starry-eyed poet all rolled into one, and I hope he never changes.

Yiqing Yin Couture
THIS! THIS is what simplicity should look like on an haute couture runway, dammit!! Clean lines mixed with complicated stitching and drapes made for a smooth collection that was rich with restrained beauty. The color palette was somber, but that is often necessary when dealing with complicated workmanship; and the details were just enough to make the pieces interesting without going over-the-top. Dear rest of Paris, TAKE SOME FREAKING NOTES FROM THIS COLLECTION!!!

Valentino
Ugh. Valentino… oh boy. Look, the collection was beautiful. The embroideries and details, superb. The color story, logical and well studied. The cuts… well, therein lies the issue. I don’t really understand how many times they feel the need to cut that dress shape, but honestly, the atelier has to be sick of it at this point. I remember Valentino as an almost experimental design house, when the man himself was making the clothes – there were constant innovations and boundaries being pushed. The current team seems to rest on a few laurels and refuses to move forward with the body. The writing and the storybook feel of the clothes saved them from my wrath, but in the future, please, MOVE THE FRACK ON!

Jean Paul Gaultier
You know, for a man who gave up designing ready to wear, he has a hard time letting it go. This collection seemed to be a lateral move for him. There was nothing new, nothing different and certainly nothing that even came close to feeling like haute couture. It was probably the most boring-looking collection of the season, and this saddens me beyond belief. I think I have given up hope on his couture house. I used to look at Gaultier as the one destination for consistent innovation and smiles, but now, this sad little couture house has just quietly sunk into the shadows of what imagination could have been.

Jantaminiau Couture
Admittedly, I have a soft spot in my heart for comic books, but seriously, how fun and goofy was this collection? It was like Lois Lane and a Lichtenstein painting had a wardrobe together. The colors were bright and outstanding without being garish, the styling was a bit over-the-top, but still just this side of wearable and the clothes were all completely joyous in their delivery. Sift through the gimmicks and there were a Hell of a lot of completely beautiful looks that would stop hearts in any crowded room. Beautifully playful and tons of ideas – EXACTLY what haute couture needs!

Christian Dior
WTF? Seriously Raf, what cosmic mushrooms did you ingest to crank out this horribly ridiculous pile of steaming nonsense? I’ll admit, it was a step outside of the norm from what you usually do, but scale it back a pinch, next time. For taking a risk and gamble with pushing the envelope, I’ll give you a hat tip, but duuuuuude, this shit just ugly. I get the Ziggy Stardust idea, I really do, and some of the metal ring inserts were cool in principal, but let’s not go down this road again until you learn to rein in the unicorns, okay?

Serkan Cura Couture
I know what you’re thinking and frankly, yeah, this stuff is tripping on goofballs. The house of Serkan Cura isn’t known for being the shy wallflower in the bunch, but what I like to look at with this house is the reckless abandon with which they work. Does it make sense? Hell no,  but this is the second season I have been enamored with their work. For someone who is pretty good at reading clothes, I am at a loss for words as to why I constantly look forward to this house’s presentation. Maybe it’s a line gesture or a model’s attitude, but like a crash on a NASCAR tack, I just can’t stop staring at it. I might need help. Whether is it good or bad, I’ll leave up to you. I have no qualms with calling them the Hypnotoad of couture. OBEY!!!!

Armani Privé
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…
Sorry, just woke up from my Privé power nap.
Pretty fabrics, yeah, clean lines, sure, sober color… BLAH BLAH BLAH!!! OMG this collection was so complacent and slow to develop, you could watch actual bamboo growing on the runway! Giorgio, sweetie, you do the establishment better than anyone in Milan. We get it. It’s always perfect and cool, but COME ON! this is just an extension of the ready to wear collection, and you know it! Honestly, the only thing that separates this line from the signature line is the price point. Where is the exuberance of the Jewel collection? Where is the sleek modernity of the Reptile collection? Please bring that Giorgio back. I miss him. Having said all that, this collection was utterly beautiful in its workmanship and textiles. I just wish it had a bit more ‘umph.’

Maison Martin Margiela Couture
Well, Galliano is back and just as adept at sequencing the genome of a fashion house as ever. It truly amazes me how brilliant he can be at doing just that – understanding a label and then filtering it through his aesthetic. He did it first at Givenchy, then at Dior. I don’t care for whom he designs, as long as he keeps doing it. This collection was an exercise in found objects and “make do” mentality. The cuts were innovative, yet approachable, and the overall mood had an air of freshness, even in the face of walking artifacts. I honestly don’t know how he does it. A marvelous first outing… Hell, that was a marvelous outing. PERIOD.

 
Stéphane Rolland
Yup, saved the best for last. This collection was perfection from beginning to end. Beautifully draped, exquisitely rendered dreams in silk and wool paraded down the runway with such grace and elegance, I had no choice but to declare him the season’s winner. I could have stood a bit more color, but you know what, I’ll take what I can get. Bravo!!

OK kids, I’ll have my list of the season’s turkeys up by tomorrow.