Valentino, Gaultier, Saab shimmer in couture collections
By Thomas Adamson
Published: Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Haute couture, fashion's most luxurious appellation, can only ever come from Paris.
One thing couture week's third and final day proved, however, is that despite these geographical limits, Paris punches high above its weight creatively, attracting designers the world over.
Italian house Valentino flew in its small army of artisan seamstresses to Paris for their spring-summer 2013 show Wednesday, which had guests awestruck in its glistening Renaissance-style embroideries and lace.
Chinese-French Yiqing Yin put on a constructed display channeling Russian architect Naum Gabo.
Lebanese designer Elie Saab put on a typically fairy tale-like collection with 19th-century crinolines. Meanwhile, couture's enfant terrible Jean Paul Gaultier traveled to Rajasthan to produce a gypsy-infused homage to India.
Such cultural infusions are part and parcel of the famed artisan-based method of making clothes that dates back over a century.
Delicacy, nature, architecture and timeless, effortless beauty.
Those words describe one of the most sumptuous displays seen this season — courtesy of Valentino.
Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, and their indefatigable Italian seamstresses, surpassed even themselves Wednesday, perfecting the delicate Valentino silhouette by subtly softening it and exposing more of the neck. The designers said they were inspired by a garden.
A garden gate was evoked in the first gown, in tulle, with soft swirls of red piping. It appeared simple, but was achieved with 220 meters of silk around fibers of wool.
And there were beautiful plays in dimension — such as a dress in magnolia wool and crepe, hung with a curved, square bottom. It captured the voluminous, yet flat, dimension of a Renaissance painting.
“This year, we wanted to surprise,” Piccioli said. “Not only everyone else, but ourselves first.”
And they did.
Jean Paul Gaultier
Did the Pondicherry landscape in “Life of Pi” inspire Jean Paul Gaultier's latest Indian-themed collection?
Whatever the reason, the one-shoulder sari-styles, scarves and silk “shalwar” pants made for a fun, endearing display. Guests even chuckled to Edith Piaf's “La vie en rose” in Hindi.
There were some vibrant East-meets-West looks. One European Spencer jacket came in paprika-colored shantung with a skirt, over a cumin-colored muslin dress — evoking Indian-style layering. Still, the exuberance translated a little too much into the clothes.
Gaucho-style fringing mixed with Madonna-style “Blonde Ambition” corsets, gypsy detailing, '70s disco and even a look from the 1950s. Only a master like Gaultier can pull off something this eclectic, but sometimes, even for him, too many spices can spoil the couture broth.
Elie Saab's couture never ventures far beyond his safe signature: fitted, high waists and long, feminine gowns in powdery sumptuous silk that are always well-cut.
There were no surprises here.
This season's theme, “an ode to delicateness,” saw the Lebanese-born designer explore transparencies in lace and tulle in ivory, pink and light blue.
There is always something of the slightly twee fairy-story princess that infiltrates Saab's collections. Here, this was done more creatively in otherworldly black crinolines in the latter part of the show.
Instead of conjuring up Snow White, they had a great feel of a glamorous wicked witch.
Thomas Adamson is an AP fashion writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fashion briefs: ‘Crochet’ book offers step-by-step guides
- The iconic wrap dress marks 40 years of classic style