Haute Couture A/W 14 Chanel, Dior & Valentino
There could only be one city that is worthy of playing host to such gorgeously grand creations, and that merits the ultimate in intricate finery and grace of the world’s greatest glittering, awe-inspiring gown collections. It is the city of Paris that plays homage to the haute-couture catwalks of Autumn/Winter 2014/15, where an abundance of seriously alluring sparkle, style and star-appeal designs are famously on parade for folk to feaster in the glory of glamour.
With the heavyweights of the couture world all conducting delightful designs such as Chanel, Christian Dior, and Valentino to name a few, it is the occasion where hypnotism, spellbinding and style magnetism all unite to parade the utmost of fashion fantasies.
Applying the highest glimpses of glamour with more than an inkling of historical references is the magical combination that sets Karl Lagerfeld’s couture creations above the rest.
For 2014/15, the Chanel couture runway was held in a simple, spacious white room in the Grand Palais, decorated with a virtual fireplace and a glass mirror above its mantelpiece. The unpretentious setting proved ideal when showcasing Lagerfeld’s amazing craftsmanship, displayed on the beautiful urchin models that transported his 18th Century Charles Dickens timeless references to life.
Such skill was witnessed in his regal embroidery that adorned coats, skirts and dazzling dresses, whilst more classical references showcased some contemporary features with ribbon-tie flip-flop flats, replacing last season’s lust for couture trainers. Satchel-esque bags contributed to another savvy modern addition. More nods to a Charles Dickens classic arrived via short pantaloons, which were even styled under little short suits and coats, and girls paraded quiffs and caps on the back of their heads.
All garments were intricately decorated in embroidery and boasted an amazing array of sequins and crystals that were adorned across bodices, jackets, collars, necklines, and all manors of hems. Cocktail dressing concentrated on statement trapeze silhouettes, skirts embodied gentle A-lines and all came in a palette of smoky greys, pale gold, off-white, black and navy.
Scenery of florals would come as no surprise when attending a Raf Simons show, and the 2014/15 Couture presentation proved to favour Dior’s love for blooming gardens, once more.
It was a combination of historical fashion references that created such a buzz – the Eighteenth century French court; Edwardian tailoring through to the modern day perfectly propelled the inspiration behind the collection.
A focus on detailing seemed effective when the collection was shown in sets of not more than eight or ten looks, and a resemblance in past Dior models were on display with their signature pale-skin and straight hair.
Reversing the traditional couture runway order, the show commenced with an array of ballgowns, with pannier-skirted gowns being three-quarter length and styled with embroidered silk narrow, sporty bodice tops. Arms were accessorized with silver bangles whilst placed in pockets.
A feminine take on sports luxe unveiled the second set of clothing; including voluminous skirts with a roar, urban edge via contemporary fabrications and adornments such as zips, and were all cinched with metal belts bearing lacquered discs. Silhouettes were either full (skirts) or loosely tailored to the body (jumpsuits).
In the third set, an Edwardian aura was captured via long patterned coats, with a scrumptious floor-length, grey mink coat and worn simply with black trousers being a standout look.
The nonchalant models were dressed throughout in typically luxurious fabrications – with coats in mink, chinchilla and cashmere. A similar laid-back mood arrived in the following section that featured Eighteenth century-inspired fop coats in dramatically embroidered pastels, which were closely pursued by an array of pea coats in dark navy and designed with exaggerated taped shoulder detail.
Rounding off Couture Fashion Week, Valentino executed an utterly chic showdown of all things Italian-inspired for the labels autumn/winter 2014/15 assembly.
Much like the ethos behind both Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld and Dior’s Raf Simons, the Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli declared their intention for the collection was ‘to define the moment using the roots of the past to strive forward and embrace the future’. With all three designers embarking on similar ways of thinking, each ultimately performed in very unique ways.
The runway was a sea of tree trunk brown bark surrounded by living walls, and an overriding aura of Italy’s ancient city was very apparent throughout. Centurion nymphs – clad in flat gladiatorial sandals, effortlessly elegant yoga dress, and tunics accessorized with leather belts whilst not ignoring the simply styled hair. The element of all things stripped back did by no means reflect the collections lack of skill and attention to detail.
The intensely fabulous combination of such wonderful alluring fabrications and delicate, ornate embellishment and embroidery remained supreme. An abundance of black and gold sculpted appliquéd flowers were seen in decadent layers that decorated skirts and dresses; prints echoed the Vatican floor tiles; and the models encapsulated a eternally elegant reflection of the sculpted stone goddesses from the River Tiber.
Odes to the Italian’s traditions were also captured via dresses that featured spliced-necks whilst twinsets were decorated in typical intrecciato weaves. The highly impressive skill and detail that the creative directors achieved was highlighted throughout the intricate lacework, in the richest of gold’s. Other techniques including patchwork, antique tapestry and a wash of whimsical embellishment covered Grecian-inspired gowns and tuxedo jackets, which all contributed to one of Valentino’s most memorable couture collections to date.
By Katie Farley