The perfectionist in me feels the pain of the photographers at the shows who scream at everyone to get their chic feet out the frame. It makes for messy pictures indeed.
"Nobody really knows anymore, especially in the U.S., what couture is. They'll say, 'This couture dress by Ralph Lauren,' and I'm like, 'No. NO.' " Valerie Steele
My sentiments exactly. Valerie Steele (in the same vain as Sally Singer) always offers intellectual and well-written thoughts on fashion. Both ladies truly elevate fashion beyond the frivolous; and culturally contextualize it.
I've spent the past week immersing myself in all things Couture and Haute Joaillerie for a couple of projects. In my mind, the internal construction (I can never get enough of examining construction) and production processes are what makes couture relevant. Many of my favorite designers draw a very fine line between well-made ready-to-wear and haute couture.
Take Azzedine Alaïa, who designs incredible couture-like garments, but refuses to distinguish between couture and ready-to-wear. The techniques Alaïa uses are similar to couture, however he is not officially a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. "The fabric he uses is woven by machine in Italy and sent to India to be embroidered or covered with sequins or tiny beads. Then it's returned to Paris where it is cut, shaped and finished like cloth." * It all amounts to clothing that leaves me breathless.
Giambattista Valli's second couture show left me breathless. For years, I've looked at the draping, construction, fabrics, and technical precision of Valli's ready-to-wear and thought that he should be showing couture. From his ready-to-wear, you could see that this is a designer who reveres the seamstresses, feather workers, pattern cutters, dye workers and artisans who pour their passion and creativity into their art. In an industry and world where people are consumed by voyeurism and self destruction, it's great to see someone excel.
Admittedly, this collection falls within my comfort zone. Evenings in New York provide plenty of opportunities to wear gorgeous coats, cocktail and evening dresses. There's a simplicity to the silhouettes that my love of classicism responds to. This collection is about juxtapositions. The traditional couture technique vs. contemporary clothing. Simplicity vs. whimsical colors and prints. A rarefied art vs. the wearable. This collection is dream worthy and sometimes we all need to dream.