February 1, 2012

Swept Me Off My Feet





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. 

*Suzy Menkes

Credit- Style.com

20 comments:

  1. I have enjoyed watching Valli for some time now. I also loved the recent Dior couture show - all those peplum details! I think the word couture is overused - I think it's better to be precise. When I think of couture, I think of those who belong to the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. That said, just because it's not couture doesn't mean it's not an incredible work of art. India has so many incredible craftsmen, who design and weave the most stunning saris by hand and do so in almost complete anonymity. It's not couture, but it's no less beautiful or awe-inspiring for that reason.

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    1. Ammu- Yes! I’ve been really paying attention to Valli for years and really admire his devotion. I remember seeing the first collection in stores and just being so amazed by the inner workings of how everything was constructed. Even before trying anything on I’m always sort of fascinated by the internal elements first. I also love that in every interview he speaks about wanting to create wearable clothing whether it’s couture or RTW.
      Couture is so overused. Even relegating it to those in the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture has limitations. There are so many levels of membership and very few of those belong actually produce a collection nowadays. I’m sure there is a future for it, but it’s good to see the rigidity of that structure open up a bit.

      I love peplums:)

      India has such amazing craftsmen, you are so lucky to have such amazing access. You are so right about people creating beautiful garments in anonymity. Those are the stories that I would love to see told. I’m always in awe of people who can make things by hand and have such incredible skills that are passed down from generation to generation. Now I need to plan my India trip;)

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    2. Do it before I leave! Would love to show you around India.
      I agree with you - I guess I was reacting to the sometimes irritating habit of many Indian designers and fashion journalists referring to anything bridal and embellished as couture, because it's made to order. I suppose they have a point, since it's all customised, but in a country where many people can take a picture to a local tailor and have them replicate a design cut to their specifications, I don't know if those are strong enough grounds for a garment to be considered 'couture'. Maybe so, but I have a hard time believing it,
      Among younger designers I do like what Guillaume Henry is doing at Carven. There's so much construction involved in those garments and yet they are so incredibly easy to wear.

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    3. Ammu- That would be awesome! I need to figure out my travel plans for the year.

      Yes I know what you mean. You’re right, just because something is made to order doesn’t make it couture and yet it still can be beautiful. I always wonder who people believe they are fooling when they do that.

      Oh yes! We all know I love Carven. The details construction and fabrics are amazing and yet it is easy to wear. I love Guillaume Henry’s vision.

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  2. Oh my, that aubergine gown. Such a gorgeous color!

    I love to read your thoughts on couture. A really banal example would be the "couture" challenges on project runway (guilty pleasure alert) - I think it really waters down the meaning of the word when they use it for anything that looks extravagant and slightly over the top. I think they addressed the issue in passing the last time had an episode like that, but it was very blink-and-you´ll-miss-it.

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    1. Maja H- I love aubergine, so I had to lead with that photo! I feel like it makes my skin POP. Whether that's real or imagined, who knows.

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading! TV has a way of simplifying it, but it’s harmless fun;)

      Can you believe I’ve never seen Project Runway!? Crazy right?

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  3. I must admit that unfortunately I have a horrible track record when it comes to keeping up with designers! I've casually looked at Valli's collections when they've ben brought to my attention and I've never been let down. The first purple dress is absolutely breath taking. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. CamisaBlanca- It's so hard to keep track nowadays. There just are too many designers and shows. Last NYFW there were close to 350 shows- crazy.

      The purple dress totally takes my breath away- that color is gorgeous against her skin.

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  4. Love your different picks. They're all so beautiful!

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    1. Joy- They're all so beautiful. I had trouble deciding what to pick.

      I loved your post on Carven. It's one of my favorites these days.

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  5. I love your insight into the world of haute couture. I know next to nothing about it so every morsel of information you've shared here is news to me. I've always gravitated towards handbags and accessories and have trained my eyes to detect superior workmanship and leather. It was only when I was invited to attend a private Chanel show that I started to understand fabric, finishing and the process of making such beautiful garments. Please continue sharing because your passion for clothes is infectious!

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    1. Chocolate, Cookies &; Candies- Thank you. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this post. I'm always a bit conflicted and hesitant to post my thoughts on shows for fear that it can feel repetitive. It's good to feel encouraged:)

      Quality workmanship and leather in handbags and accessories is so important. Beautiful handbags, shoes and accessories really make a look.

      I love the private Chanel shows and previews. You learn so much! I think they understand that today luxury has to include beautiful items and unique experiences.

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  6. beautiful picks! the silhouettes, the colors, the craftsmanship - love it all.

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    1. leavesofgrass- Thank you! I'm so in love with this collection on every level.

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  7. What a gorgeous collection!

    Visit me & my bags, shoes, and all things dainty at:
    pjlattesbagbook.blogspot.com or on Bloglovin'

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    1. pjlatte- Such a gorgeous collection.

      I can't wait to look at your blog over the weekend.

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  8. Love the collection! Thank you for sharing it with us!

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    1. Fashionable Memories- Your welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed!

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  9. that first deep purple might be the best deep purple that ever existed...i wore a dress of the same color to my school ball last year. no where as nice of a dress but they were the same colors lol

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    1. Alice /// VESTIGIAL WINGS- Agreed! It's one of my favorite colors.

      You must have looked so pretty in your dress!

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