Paris Shows: From Schiaparelli to Dior: Simplifying the Haute Couture Equation | People

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The haute couture shows in Paris began this Monday with a reflection by designer Daniel Roseberry that summed up the atmosphere that is perceived on and around the catwalk, and that, from Dior to Chanel, translates into a return to restraint and elegance. classic. “Fashion has been insisting on its relevance for the last two years, but I can feel that some of its main actors are not so convinced anymore. What does fashion mean in an era where everything is constantly changing? His answer —in the form of a collection— also tries to answer a dilemma that concerns only the brand he leads, Schiaparelli, founded in 1927 and heir to the iconography of Salvador Dalí and Jean Cocteau: when everyday life, everything, is surreal , what is surrealism? For Roseberry, simple lines and the absence of color.

The American designer renounces “the tricks that are usually used to bring out the greatness and craftsmanship.” The complex silhouettes, the theatrical volumes and the enormous amounts of fabric are resources that now seem empty to the American. All the dramatic weight of his proposal falls on the accessories: bags in the shape of a human head, cathedral earrings that require buttresses in the form of diadems and bustiers They look like solar systems. Stripped of these artifacts, their garments are refined and, on occasion, even rational. But her parade — the first face-to-face in a pandemic — screams haute couture and confirms why Roseberry is one of the creators whose image and relevance have grown the most in these last two dystopian years.

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Also at Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri focuses on black and white, simplifying her silhouettes. Even her already famous Greek goddess dresses and tulle skirts are declined in a more schematic version. The interest of her collection for next spring/summer lies in the contrast between that purity of lines and the embroideries, on which the designer puts the focus and through which she builds rich fabrics or with which she lays out crystals on some pieces. This work with beads gives the fabrics an almost architectural structure —as they explain in their press release— and gives them “a choreographic movement”, which places them beyond mere ornament. The crystals also decorate the stockings, which dialogue with bodysuits silver lamé, ethereal tulle dresses or tailored suits.

In the words of the Italian, haute couture is “a tool for experimentation” and a platform from which to question the most deeply rooted rules of fashion. But to get a substantive answer, the question must be relevant. With this collection, Chiuri expresses his desire to abolish the border between art and craft “once and for all” and underlines this intention by upholstering the catwalk with the works of Indian artists Madhvi and Manu Parekh, who use, precisely, an indigenous technique of embroidery to shape your colorful paintings.

Carlota Casiraghi, riding a horse with a Chanel design, during the opening of the French brand's parade.
Carlota Casiraghi, riding a horse with a Chanel design, during the opening of the French brand’s parade. Lewis Joly (AP)

The magnifying glass is also essential to appreciate the manual work and technical skills that the Chanel collection hid: restrained, respectful of the house’s legacy and elegant. A Chanel that is not strident —but not boring for that—, where transparent 1920s dresses and tweed skirts with surgical cuts bring an electric pulse to the parade with the most ambitious staging since Virginie Viard became the artistic director of the brand almost three years ago. Far from the catwalks with rockets about to take off or waterfalls with which Karl Lagerfeld, his predecessor, liked to dazzle and conquer social networks, the French designer has opted for much more discreet formats. But on Tuesday there was a knock-on effect: Carlota Casiraghi opened the parade riding a horse down the catwalk designed by the artist Xavier Veilhan. Except for that little license —more poetic than dramatic—, there is no ostentation or obviousness. The luxury lies in the craftsmanship and the details only appreciable by a sensitive eye or one versed in this know-how.

Contrary to what happens in Alexandre Vauthier, where the shine of the satins and the seventies sequins dazzle to hide that there is not much else to look at. The French seek to amuse, and Chanel and Dior, offer beauty without complications. Whether that’s what customers expect from fashion in 2022, the sales figures will tell. You just have to wait for summer.

While Roseberry, who demonstrates such a strategic vision with the needle as with the word, sums up what for him is the raison d’être of haute couture today: “Our goal is not celebrities, nor the I like itNeither do the reviews. We do it because when it’s done right it still has the power to move something inside of us.” But when the latter happens, celebrities, the I like it and the critics come after. In haute couture, unlike in arithmetic, the order of factors does alter the product.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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