Haute couture is in a state of flux – that much was clear at the Paris autumn 12 shows, where new names and fresh aesthetics were juxtaposed by an acute sense of nostalgia.
All eyes were on Christian Dior, where Raf Simons’ debut collection might have been accused of playing it safe if it weren’t for the sheer impact of his stunning take on classic New Look silhouettes.
Elsewhere, Karl Lagerfeld’s ‘New Vintage’ was more familiar and, with its pared-back colour palette and impeccable tulle suits, felt like classic Chanel. Valentino was a blue-hued study in understated luxury, but Versace returned after an eight-year hiatus with a sparkling whirlwind of crystal detailing, rich jewel tones, and dramatic chiffon gowns.
Riccardo Tisci’s Givenchy show was as dark, glamorous and decadent as ever, with gypsies the inspiration for beaded fringing and intricate leather embroidery. And with metallic capes, bright fox furs and dandy-esque top hats, Jean Paul Gaultier provided unabashed haute couture opulence.