Just as Fashion Month—what fashionistas have dubbed the four-city marathon of shows each lasting one week in New York, London, Milan and Paris—is nearly upon us, Haute Couture Week took over Paris to showcase the most luxurious garments by the world’s most prestigious design houses.
Hot on the heels of the pre-fall and menswear shows, Couture Week Spring 2014 began on Sunday with labels like Versace, Chanel, Dior and Armani showing their couture creations. By definition, haute couture literally means “high fashion,” but it’s more than just out-of-the-box custom-fitted clothing. In France, labels who create haute couture are protected by law and are chosen to be part of the week’s showings based on criteria dictated by Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris.
In other words, this is the cream of the crop in the sartorial world.
For many, Haute Couture Week is a preview of what we’ll see celebrities wearing on the red carpet, with major award shows like the Academy Awards on the horizon.
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So without further ado, here’s a recap of all the shows at Couture Week Spring 2014.
The week began Sunday with Atelier Versace, a much-talked-about show that summoned Lady Gaga from her Artpop shame to the front row. It’s no surprise, since the singer was named the face of the Spring 2014 Versace campaign by designer Donatella Versace. Gaga even wore a dress straight off the runway after the show, which angered many in the fashion world.
Oh, there were also clothes, most of which showed a lot of leg and included a built-in hood, just in case your couture stands in for a rain coat.
Marco Zanini’s much-anticipated debut for Schiaparelli, a brand that hasn’t show in almost 60 years, was on Monday. Zanini kept with the label’s identity, absurd quirk juxtaposed with dramatic elegance, and did not disappoint, though we question the—GASP!—choice of flat footwear.
After a very colorful Spring 2014 ready-to-wear season by Raf Simons, the Christian Dior brand took a more neutral approach with its palate for the couture season of white, black, navy and small pops of color in pastels and red. Since the face of the label, Jennifer Lawrence, loves wearing white dresses, we’re sure she’ll pick one of these for the Oscars in March. We’re guessing look 43, if she goes with the most current season. Otherwise, our money is on look 33, look 45 or look 52, since she seems to have exhausted all the other options from Fall 2013 already.
If you felt a lack of color from Dior, Giambattista Valli made up for it with a vivid palate of royal blue, bright yellow and muted magenta on white and black. The collection was heavy on embellishments, voluminous silhouettes and exposed legs.
Designer Karl Lagerfeld took his guests to an “ice palace, a nightclub on another planet” complete with an orchestra, which is not a huge shocker since the label always has exquisite sets. But the most shocking thing to grace the runway were the sneakers—even paired with evening gowns!, fanny packs and elbow and knee pads. Perhaps Herr Lagerfeld is looking to compete with Givenchy’s line of sneakers by Riccardo Tisci for Nike.
Stephane Rolland showed on Tuesday, not that anyone even really noticed the origami-like sculptured clothes of organza, since Kim Kardashian was sitting front row.
GAULTIER HAUTE COUTURE
Speaking of celebrities, infamous pin-up Dita Von Teese walked in Jean-Paul Gaultier’s show on Wednesday, full of quirky, kitschy headwear.
There’s hardly a red carpet without Armani, and we’re sure to see this collection of eveningwear at the Oscars. Naomi Watts is going to look beautiful in this navy, blue violet and silver palate.
Aside from the model who took a tumble on the runway, the Elie Saab show was flawless. The pastel palate was complemented with gentle volume as well as feminine floral appliqués and embellishments.
Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli looked to the opera for inspiration, literally with music notes on the opening look, and figuratively with full-skirted gowns perfect for a night at the opera, or even a red carpet.
At Zuhair Murad, we definitely see some red carpet options for the Oscars, and maybe even one look for the Grammys this weekend; we can totally picture some kooky singer wearing the outrageous sequin romper (look 26). But the standout piece from the show was not the red carpet-appropriate gowns but the finale look: a wedding dress that would make even a cynic long for matrimony.