For her Autumn/Winter 2019 haute couture show, Clare Waight Keller sought to break new ground. Her Noblesse Radicale collection offered up a modern spin, by proposing bold textures and strong volumes for the house of Givenchy. Extravagant feathers, headpieces and hairstyles, luxuriant blooms, a periwinkle hue reminiscent of blue china, and silverware-inspired shapes alluded to her reimagining of a society swan walking through her stately home.
“I wanted to step it up a notch for myself, to push it into something that has a little more theatre,” the artistic director explains. “It’s the idea of an anarchic woman who comes through the château and all of the elements you’d find there. I like the idea that the château wasn’t perfect. It was part of the way I discovered the spirit and the girl of this show.”
Each individual look that came down the runway through the nave of the Musée des Arts Decoratif – where the show was staged – was named after a château, in reference to the birthplaces of the grand tradition of haute couture.
Waight Keller reveals on Instagram that she nicknamed the following look, originally called Épernon, “mirror ball”.
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Silver spark – behind the scenes back at the Grand Salon the day before the show the fittings for the two mirror ball looks (as I nicknamed them) in the studio. Marfa in the intensely sequinned Cape sleeve tailleur jacket made from all different shaped hand embroidered sequins with one of the bell shape cliche skirts i loved this season, inspired by the heirloom pewter and silverware found in the Chateau of the Noblesse Radicale characters, full of florals and vines capturing that opulence through embriodery. Slide across to see Lesley in her puff ball skirt with tulle train and taffeta top. @givenchyofficial #hautecouture #bts #stories 🖤🖤
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The silk organza cape jacket is dense with hand- embroidered paillettes and mirror-effect silver sequins of different shapes, and is paired with a cage skirt in a bell shape she loves this season. She says: “It’s inspired by the heirloom pewter and silverware found at the chateau of the Noblesse Radicale, full of florals and vines capturing that opulence through embroidery.”
Every Chanel show starts from the set. Virginie Viard, the new artistic director of fashion collections tasked to take over the creative reins of the storied 109-year-old house, continues the tradition and sets the tone for her quiet yet confident, collection by transforming the Grand Palais into a circular library. It’s an eloquent homage to her legendary predecessors, founder Gabrielle Chanel and creative director Karl Lagerfeld, as well as a nod to their enduring passion for books.
Some of the looks channel preppy-chic, characterised by the intricately layered feuilleté collar and cuffs reminiscent of the pages of an open book.
In the picture below (captured by François Kollar), a pair of spectacles lies on an open book in Chanel’s apartment at the Ritz-Carlton. Her salon was covered with books: Reading was her way of escaping a lonely childhood at the Aubazine orphanage. “Books are my best friends,” she once confided to French writer Paul Morand.
The collection communicates a sophisticated 1930s influence through its use of fluid volumes and graphic panels, ornamented with a belt or a bow, as shown in this trompe l’œil petticoat dress in black velvet with a crisp white bib and cuffs that’s reminiscent of Lagerfeld’s signature uniform. Perhaps this is a poignant hint of how dearly Lagerfeld is missed — after all, Viard worked closely with him for more than 30 years.
A carefree spirit is in the air, as epitomised by the Chanel bride’s easy elegance. Viard concludes the 70-look collection with her unconventional take on bridal wear, imagined as a petal-pink robe in dreamy tiers of fine pleats and lush feathers that Lemarié embroidered one by one, worn over light flowing pyjamas in silky satin.
“I dreamt about a woman with nonchalant elegance and a fluid and free silhouette; everything I like about the Chanel allure,” mused Viard.
Marking a departure from last season’s Bernardo Bertolucci tribute collection, which was punctuated with striking reds and blues, the offerings this season came in a palette of pastels — powder pink, dusty blue and jade green — bookended by sophisticated black for contrast.
The soft focus effect extended to the use of materials as well — sheer and lightweight mesh, tulle, organza and silk dominated, embellished with twinkling crystal accents.
“The only way to make couture alive today is to embrace different women’s identities and cultures,” said Pierpaolo Piccioli during a studio preview. As inspiration for his sophomore collection exploring individualism, he assembled a moodboard filled with a mix of portraits by American photographer Richard Avedon, advertising visuals by French photographer Guy Bourdin, paintings by Italian mannerist Rosso Fiorentino and artwork of fashion editor Diana Vreeland. The result? A collection full of folksy charm, glorious colour and rich embellishment, such as Komondor wool fringes and floral appliqués that required 990 hours of painstaking work to render.
An uninhibited, buoyant spirit radiates from Valentino’s haute couture offerings, thanks to unexpected colour combinations that feel fresh and modern. Case in point: This finale dress, christened “Debora, Cristina, Sara, Ricardo, Elena” (named after the actual people who made it) in a riot of purple taffeta ruffles.