Rainbows, Mermaids and Marie-Antoinette
To my great delight, there was a plethora of rainbow colors as well as inspiration taken from my favorite period, the Rococo. Rainbows were seen in many collections, subtle-colored sparkling sequins in the case of Ralph & Russo - or more obvious in the collections of Schiaparelli, Georges Hobeika, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rami Kadi and Givenchy. Lagerfeld’s creations came in pastel rainbows. Alexis Mabille even named his show “Rainbow Splash.” Zuhair Murad, Elie Saab and Jean Paul Gaultier dove into the sea for inspiration, while Giorgio Armani and Stéphane Rolland looked to the Art Deco period.
Karl Lagerfeld invites us to the Mediterranean style “Villa Chanel,” a world he calls “lux, serene and calm, not like [the world] now.” Here we celebrate the joy of beauty and of nature.. Inspired by the exhibition “La Fabrique du luxe: Les marchands merciers parisiens au XVIIIe siècle,” Lagerfeld gives us a modern take on the 18th century world of King Louis XV and his mistress, Madame de Pompadour. Here we see sumptuous embroideries of resin-preserved flowers, sequins carefully painted by hand, and delicate lace, hand-painted or iced with silicone whorls, giving it the look of Meissen porcelain. Full skirts contrasted with small-bodices remind us of the days of Marie Antoinette.
Stéphane Rolland describes his collection as being “inspired by the 20s and art deco. I started with the era after the war of 1914/18 when there was freedom of expression. People wanted to live. When we see what is happening today, we want to rediscover this freedom. It's this that drove my collection and my way of thinking. I entered inside the Champs-Elysées theatre and voilà, here is the message. All the shapes flow, the body is free. It's not too sexy, its sensible, and very sensual, but at the same time super fragile and with an extreme sensibility and femininity. This is what I truly wanted. ”
Georges Chakra describes his collection as “a fairy-tale. it’s funny, its romantic, it’s poetic, it’s sensual, perfect to escape from everyday worries. The clothes have to have a very well done and excellent finish. There are dresses that use kilometers of tulle, there are frills and bows, so I think that everything that is romantic and sensual is seen throughout the show.”
“I don’t believe in modernist couture,” says Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino, “I love couture for what it is—the lightness, the uniqueness.” And that is what we see in Piccioli’s collection, the lightness and uniqueness of flowers. “I have asked the seamstresses of the Atelier to personally name each dress with a name of a flower,” says Piccioli, “or with the emotion brought by the flower itself. I was inspired by the Abécédaire de Flore.” Even many of the models’ eyes are framed in petals to transform them into flower fairies of the 19th-century French artist J. J. Grandville and the 1960s makeup artist Pablo Manzoni. The collection of 65 looks recalls all that we know of Valentino, from the voluminous ball gowns, to the ruffles, to the lace and wallpaper florals, all made relevant for today.
Bertrand Guyon of Schiaparelli describes his collection as “almost futuristic, even, because I wanted to work on totally different color combinations inspired by the porcelain of Sèvres, Chantilly and Meissen for the floral section. It’s also very humorous and optimistic.” His embroideries incorporate antique porcelain designs, as well as an astrological pattern from a 17th century star atlas. For futuristic, take a look at his “Meteroid Swarm Cape” or his gigantic, tiered, pink tulle gown.
Giambattista Valli’s trademark tulle explosions, extravagant trains, and fez hats mark his latest collection. Thousands of sparkling Swarovski crystals that crunch under your feet create a feeling of lightness and of Paris at night. Valli describes what led him to become a couturier by reflecting on a photo he’d seen by Helmut Newton, one of models lounging in the couture salon of Yves Saint Laurent. “He captured the atmosphere of the French maisons de la haute couture I was dreaming about when I decided to move to Paris to become a couturier. That attitude only exists here in Paris, a sort of posture of the mind, a nervous silhouette, décomplexée.”
Pearls, pearls and more pearls mark the revival of the House of Balmain’s haute couture atelier. Giant orbs encircling wrists and carried by hand were emblazoned with the Balmain name, signifying the house’s return. “Here, it’s all about bringing back Balmain to the elegance of la France,” explains designer Olivier Rousteing. “Of course, the house is known for being edgy and sexy and glamorous. Everything you see will give the sense that it’s taken from the ideas of Mr. Balmain,” he continues, adding that the maison’s archives were essential.
“Every color has its own energy,” says designer Alexis Mabille, as he presents his spring collection, appropriately named “Rainbow Splash.” “It’s a rainbow in every sense — freedom of color and freedom of expression.” He completes his rainbow with the full spectrum of colors, from black to neon by way of turquoise, emerald, navy and gold.
For its Spring-Summer 2019 Haute Couture collection, Maison Georges Hobeika evokes the timeless essence of the Château de Versailles and the passionate myth of the legendary Marie-Antoinette.
In his Armani Privé collection, “Laquer,” Giorgio Armani brings us the Art Deco aesthetic of the Jazz Age fused with the beautiful red lacquers that are a hallmark of Chinese art.
Zuhair Murad’s “Aquatic Serenade” makes the greatest splash at Haute Couture Week. “The inspiration was all about the sea, the world of the deep sea, the sea from the beaches, from inside and outside,” he explains, adding that his colors are meant to “evoke the feel of ripples on water.” Murad’s palette includes the whole range of ocean colors, from shades of blue dégradé to turquoise to mother-of-pearl.
“I wanted to celebrate the magic of femininity,” says Elie Saab “Oui, c’est le rêve! It’s a dream of luminous mermaids emerging from the waves and promenading along the sea.” Sequins of ocean-blue remind us of the shimmering surface of the sea.“ I wanted to express the brilliance and the glamour of women; I try to enhance their charm with my creations: I look at femininity with my utmost respect. I bring to French haute couture my Mediterranean sensibility, a vision of a woman almost regal in her demeanor.”