If you’ve missed out on some Couture updates, here are the key takeaways.

١ Jean Paul Gaultier Fall 2023

Julien Dossena, the creative force behind Rabanne, served as a guest designer at Jean Paul Gaultier’s latest Haute Couture show, where he showcased a modern reinterpretation of fashion archives. Taking inspiration from Gaultier’s habit of hunting for vintage treasures at flea markets, Dossena adapted different pieces, such as ties, and applied intricate techniques to maintain a body-contouring appeal. His looks included a pinstriped trouser suit, lace dresses layered over trompe l’oeil beaded jeans, and nods to Gaultier’s signature trapper hat and floor-length coats.

Featuring nods to Jean Paul Gaultier’s timeless classics, including the famous sailing striped top, the collection has an enchanting archival feel and a contemporary couture twist.

٢ Thom Browne Fall 2023

Thom Browne’s Haute Couture debut transformed the runway into a montage of seaside scenes and small-town landscapes. There were intricate embroideries, timeless Prince of Wales checks, and garments embellished with silver and gold sequined stripes in the collection. Much like in train stations, pigeons were the star of the show. Most of the collection had natural grey-and-white pigeon hues. Headpieces shaped like birds and footwear depicting pigeons’ feet and feet movements were prevalent.

It was a one-night-only spectacle, where he elevated the essence of his 20-year-old brand – particularly his notable grey suit – and took classic American sportswear through an exaggerated couture story. An American couture story of triumph and redemption.

٣ Chanel Fall 2023

Chanel’s expertise in tailoring has shone once again, showcasing their mastery at creating a Parisian romance. The collection retained the brand’s signature delicate florals and effortlessly elegant silhouettes, balancing haute couture and everyday wearability. The collection delivers a cosy and inviting aesthetic which is synonymous with Virginie Viard’s Chanel as she rejects ostentatious concepts and theatrics. The vision of her work is to embrace the essence of French lifestyle and culture. In the press release, she describes her focus as a blend of “sophistication and simplicity, permanence and beauty.”

Viard faithfully reflects the French beauty standard with seemingly effortless hairstyles and au naturel makeup, honouring the perfect-as-it-is aesthetic.

٤ Zuhair Murad Fall 2023

Zuhair Murad’s latest couture collection unfolds as a mesmerizing Gothic romance. With the dark feminine dresses, the runway became a stage of power and gravitas. While Murad’s designs predominantly adhere to his classic silhouettes, he almost always introduces elements that elevate the universe of each collection. Both fierce and gentle, the clothing stimulated a hypnotic ambience, turning the show into an irresistible seductress.

٥ Valentino Fall 2023

‘Simplicity’ and ‘Paradoxes’ were the key concepts that shaped Pierpaolo Piccioli’s haute couture collection at the Château de Chantilly. The show began with a nod to couture for everyday wear, which has been gaining momentum throughout the fall collections. Baggy pants, a loosely unbuttoned white button-down blouse, and effortlessly worn gold flats indicated this. However, the collection was still infused with haute couture craftsmanship while maintaining an element of accessibility and ease. With draping, a challenging technique in haute couture, the Valentino show conveyed modernity and dynamic sophistication.

In keeping with Piccioli’s reputation, each hue of the collection was carefully chosen, adding depth and vibrancy.

٦ Christian Dior Fall 2023

Dior’s couture show epitomises minimalism with an almost architectural sensibility celebrating classicism – a house hallmark. The collection serves as a palette cleanser in the often extravagant realm of haute couture. Whenever it comes to haute couture, there’s always the question of how far you can take it. Maria Grazia Chiuri seemed to be asking, how far can simplicity be pushed?

Nevertheless, the collection maintains its distinct character through intricate and well-defined structures, as well as impeccable embroidery. While the collection embraced simplicity, it did not lack detail. Every piece was meticulously constructed, showcasing Dior’s attention to detail.

٧ Balenciaga Fall 2023

Balenciaga’s latest couture show maintained its distinctive style with angular, massive structures and a neat palette. The show opener was a replica of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s black velvet haute couture dress originally modelled by Danielle Slavik for Balenciaga himself. Grace Kelly ordered it for her 40th birthday, with the integral pearl necklace, which was also part of the look. This dress, along with the stiff black-tie formal suits, represents Demna’s move into a more “traditional” couture look, but he still maintained his signature casual aesthetic throughout. But it all worked well for him this time.

And it wouldn’t be a Demna collection with a publicity generator, and that’s where the final silver armour dress comes in.

٨ Viktor&Rolf

With its Fall 2023 Haute Couture collection, the house switched from putting models out in gowns and covering them entirely to one-piece swimsuits and bikinis instead. Artists tend to be obsessive and single-minded, and Viktor and Rolf are no exception, as they usually take one concept and explore it in multiple ways. The dutch designers’ signatures still remain, despite working in a different category. Bows are everywhere, increasing in size from the bottom to the bra or acting as shoulder pads. 

Various culturally significant phrases also appear, including Gwyneth Paltrow’s famous “I Wish You Well” to the ski accident plaintiff. In short, campy as always.

٩ Rahul Mishra

The collection showcased Mishra’s signature flamboyance and intricate decorations, attracting the viewer’s attention. Inspired by Russian-French artist Erté’s Art Nouveau drawings, the silhouettes remained slender and elongated. Using overblown volumes that look like petals, oversized bows, and girandoles, the designer juxtaposed slim bottoms with gravity-defying elements. The collection also featured a variety of contrasting shapes, including midriff-barring tops with loose pants and short, bustier dresses with catsuits.

Mishra’s work is synonymous with handcrafted, meticulously detailed pieces, and this collection was a tribute to the skilled artisans, tailors, and craftsmen he collaborates with.

١٠ FENDI

Kim Jones’ latest collection focused on fluidity and shape through traditional techniques. While the show may not have been thrilling, it showcased classic and timeless styles like strapless column dresses, pleated garments, off-the-shoulder dresses, and capes, all made from liquid silk that draped gracefully. Jones aimed to convey the feel and movement of the clothes when worn, emphasizing how they shape a woman’s day.

To complement the collection and emphasize the earthy tones, Delfina Delettrez designed around 30 pieces in earthy and jewel tones as part of the Fendi Triptych high jewellery collection.

Rand Al-Hadethi is an art, culture, and fashion writer who approaches all her creative endeavours with a penchant for storytelling. She explores the intersection of fashion, culture, and society and sheds light on talent and cultural movements across the Middle East and the world. Rand also publishes a bi-monthly themed substack newsletter called WebWeaver™. To reach Rand, email her at rand@khamsa5.com or follow her on social media @rundoozz.
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