Paris Haute Couture week went digital for the first time in history in 2020.
This year has been tough for fashion, with cancelled shows, big events and international travel at a standstill. Whilst designers, studios and ateliers have returned to work, it’s impossible to ignore the great big reset, both needed and wanted, in the world of style.
Since couture represents the highest echelons of luxury, and the most expensive sector of the industry, which is accessible to only a handful of the 1%, this season can be sort of confronting in another way. Haute couture however corners the notion of ultimate fantasy, extreme beauty, painstaking craft and the great escape — the latter being something we could all delve into at the moment. And designers are indeed inviting us to dream, inspiring our imaginations to run wild. Instead of traditional shows and celebrity front rows, we have films and arguably the change in format can reveal another dimension from brands depending on how creative they choose to be. Ahead is our pick of the Paris Autumn Winter 20/21 couture collections.
A 14 minute cinematic undertaking directed by Matteo Garrone at Christian Dior is one of the season’s most ambitious. A pair of uniformed bellboys carry a trunk of miniature designs through an enchanted forest inhabited by a host of ethereal characters straight out of Greek Mythologies. Mermaids, marble statues, narcissus, gods and goddesses donning Maria Grazia Chiuri’s couture is just the fantastical breath of fresh air we need.
The short film shot in high contrast showing Chanel’s key couture looks was followed by mini docs focusing inside the ateliers by Loic Prigent. Here, rebellious opulence came in ruched taffeta satins, adorned belts and details that sparkled like jewellery: “a punk princess coming out of ‘Le Palace’ at dawn,” as Virginie Viard says. Floral appliques made for sculptural pieces and those wide collars created a sense of vintage regal drama. There’s a big focus on showing off the embroidery capabilities of the atelier here, but for us it was those slimline silhouettes and sparkling tweeds that really stole the show. A very contemporary take on couture at Chanel this season.
A lovely narrative of design with Creative Director Daniel Roseberry as the camera follows the designer, donning a mask and heading to the Place Vendome headquarters in Paris — a nod to the current times. He sketches wonderful creations of the season on the green streets of the city, the capital of haute couture. The references to Elsa Schiaparelli’s signature surrealism were evident in his stylised drawings, and Roseberry’s interpretation were wonderful. Overall, the film gave a quirky, intimate insight into his process.
Ralph & Russo
2020 marks 10 years of this London-based couture house. Creative director Tamara Ralph coloured the collection with vibrant tones reflecting nature’s palette: sunshine yellows and golds, hot floral pinks, sky blues and lavender. The video released by the brand is a behind the scenes view of the atelier and craft, showing Ralph’s development of watercolour and modern digital prints. Ultra feminine silhouettes come with intricate flourishes such as 3D organza blooms, embellishments and swathes of floral taffeta. Again nodding to digital tech futurism, the label introduced an avatar for the season: the strong and sexy Hauli.
The brand is set to broadcast a special show and live performance from Rome’s Cinecetta for Haute Couture Fall Winter 2020-21 by Pier Paolo Piccioli with Nick Knight. A exploration of human and digital interaction “ transcended through grace and lightness” and an expression of the inner values of Couture: creativity, imagination and emotion. The event will be live on digital channels and presented in person to a small selection of Italy-based fashion editors. An abstract teaser by Nick Knight might set the mood first.