The Wylde Edit: Haute Couture Spring 2017
Words by Sarah Roberts
Maria Grazia Chiuri’s first Dior couture collection transported viewers to a magical garden, set within the Musée Rodin. Echoing themes from A Midsummer Night's Dream, the models were adorned with witchy hoods and delicate lace headpieces, which were as whimsical as the set. Opening with a black tuxedo-style suit and hooded Bar jacket, the clothes featured plenty of mythical motifs, with lavish embroideries and appliqué, and magical gowns made from layered pleated tulle. Though the collection played into the woodland-nymph aesthetic of the set, it managed to steer clear of becoming costume. Maria Grazia Chiuri’s timeless designs and breath-taking craftsmanship debuted a collection fit for a modern-day Tatiana.
Pierpaolo Piccioli’s debut solo couture collection for Valentino evoked an immortal, fairytale world. Piccioli took his inspiration from the Greek gods, parading his models as ethereal nymphs in muted pastels. The dreamy Olympian-inspired creamy column dresses with their straight, classical forms, were contrasted with billowing floor-length gowns. The sense of the ethereal continued through to the flower and sequin embellishments and the delicate music, composed by French film composer Alexandre Desplat. Stand-out pieces included a ruffled rose chiffon dress with a plunging neckline, and a mint long-sleeved gown, although at one point a hot pink satin gown jarred with the otherwise calm collection. Set against a background of the oil paintings that had inspired Piccioli’s palette, the overarching sense of ethereal calm was otherwise prevalent throughout.
Iris Van Herpen
The name of Iris Van Herpen’s couture collection, ‘Between the Lines’, was mirrored by the nature of her designs, which altered any sense of reality. The hypnotic garments distorted the models’ bodies, creating optical illusions, often only using monochrome tones. Some of sixteen-piece collection was made from synthetic fabrics that were hand-moulded into three-dimensional shapes. The designer also used the material Mylar, which had been laser-cut to create rippling patterns that expanded and contracted with the movement of the body. The futuristic elements of the show trickled down to the copper-plated slanted heels, and saw the models donning sleek black bobs and parted fringes. The set design continued to play skilfully with viewers’ sense of reality, as Berlin-based artist Esther Stocker created a ‘tunnel of visual distortion’ using shadow-play and lighting glitches.
John Galliano cited social media and the selfie generation as his haute couture inspiration. The details spoke volumes about his view of our online identities, with coats overlaid with embroidered faces and masks shielding the true identity of the models. Other aspects of the show included the flamboyant deconstruction of the clothes, which was paired with controlled silhouettes. Perhaps the most beautiful look in the collection was a tall South American-style felt hat, and long white coat that was swathed in sheer black chiffon, adorned with an embroidered face. References to Martin Margiela himself were hard to come by, but Galliano’s strength, which was prevalent throughout the collection, was his ability to perfectly marry the stunning elegance of couture with the theatre of it.
Giambattista Valli has a penchant for pushing the boundaries of style, and his 2017 couture collection displayed his unwavering ability to balance the fantastical with fashion. Inspired by women who travel and seek adventure, Valli created prominent fold lines in his designs to reflect the idea of a glamorous woman having pulled the clothes out of her suitcase. The combination of silhouettes, from ball gowns to slimmer fitting pieces with long sheer sleeves and embellished necklines, were tied together with floral patterns and silvery embroidered feathers. The exuberant collection was filled with decadent materials including tulle and mousseline, and playful, extravagant designs, like a mini dress with a billowing train. Valli’s statement: the ball gown is back.