To the voice of Maria Callas and later music from Madame Butterfly, a host of enrapturing gowns entered the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild. It was the final show of Couture Week but perhaps the most evocative. Pierpaolo Piccioli’s visions of beauty involved a variety of influences this season from Greek mythology, 17th-and 18th-century painting, films by Pasolini and even photographs by Deborah Turbeville. These Renaissance-meets-sixties looks celebrated a refinement that isn’t often seen today—it’s beauty’s comeback in fashion.
Rigour and painstaking attention to technique are back—perhaps a sign of our era: in abrupt and uncertain times as these we need elegance more than ever. Making beautiful dresses that make women look and feel their best was a keynote of the season. So true was this at Armani Privé where a collection of around 90 looks in frilly colouring and intricate embellishments sang odes to joy and glamour. It was spectacle that went on for ages as each couture dress professed Mr Armani’s quest for perfection and beauty.
At Schiaparelli a new seemingly Pop-inspired collection gave the brand a dose of cartoonish nonchalance—hot pinks, fluffy manes, masks and dramatic trails—was this mainly just for the Instagram snapping spectators? “Look at me!” the collection seemed to say, just like the social media times that we live in. A return to elegance was greatly felt at Dior—perhaps Maria Grazia Chiuri’s best collection yet. There were no feminist slogans or casual, pared down attire. Instead, monochromatic minimalist gowns showcased Chiuri’s sartorial skills to perfection. Basked in beautiful simplicity, these gowns sang a song of another decade—in the chaos that we live in perhaps all we need is a gentle does of effortless grace.
And there was a newfound attention to dressmaking at Fendi—it’s time to bring haute couture back to its origins, said the collection.Instead of focusing on fur, as has been the case previously, here Italian maison highlighted its gowns, with lovely floral patternings, tulle ballerina ankle-high dresses, densely stitched sequins and delicate crochet. The brand couldn’t have honored its craftsmen more.And at Margiela, another ode to the past saw plentiful references to the 20s and 50s sensuousness. Nylon tubes, brocades, bright colours and the use of a variety of mix-matched materials gave a dose of electrifying eclecticism to the collection in a deeply poetic way.
Taking over the 19th-century Salon Pompadour at Le Meurice hotel, Rami Al Ali presented a dreamy Art Deco collection of entrapturing pastel coloured gowns. At Chanel we were whisked back to the simplest of everyday scenes: the pathways around the Seine with their numerous wooden stands of the boquinistes, selling their prints, magazines and old books. And past such a timeless Parisian sight, models walked past dressed in tweeds, chiffons, and failles referencing the city’s melancholic and existentialist surroundings. Beautiful embroiderings lit up the scene like light is given to darkness. A few sparkles seen the form of embellishments sparkled like the elegant street lamps in the Tuilleries. This season was all about dreaming and that can be powerful for dreams do manifest.