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Paris Haute Couture Week

Elie Saab got in the party mood as Chanel played the blues and Jean Paul Gaultier covered Amy Winehouse.

After heading to the depths of the sea for Chanel’s spring 12 women’s ready-to-wear and to India for its pre-collection, Karl Lagerfeld chartered Chanel airlines (by mocking up a spectacular aeroplane set) for couture. Drenched in blue – reportedly 150 shades – came a range of basic shifts and elongated columnar shapes with exaggeratedly dropped waists. The focus was on the neck and arm, with wide boat necks, capped, cropped and voluminous bell sleeves, as well as revealing shoulder cut-outs.

Givenchy was an exercise in super luxury with that dark, tough edge that Riccardo Tisci is known for. Alligator skins and exquisite detailing covered floor-length backless gowns that hung from the neck, showing the old timers how to truly modernise couture.

Versace returned to the schedule for the first time since 2004 with all the glamour and sex appeal you’d expect from Donatella – think skin-tight mini dresses, revealing cut-outs and thigh-high splits in eye-catching colours. But this was a futuristic glamour, with space-age structured peplums that sliced around hips, plastic paillettes and peek-a-boo slits inlaid with shiny gold metal.

There was a different kind of red carpet look at Elie Saab, fit for princesses and royal engagements. Dainty and delicate gowns swept across the floor while full skirts kicked out on party dresses in sweet sugary shades, encrusted with twinkling embellishment and blooms of chiffon flowers.

For his second couture collection guarding the helm at Christian Dior, Bill Gaytten returned (once again) to the house’s archives, reworking the historic New Look that Mr Dior made famous. Undeniably elegant slinky pencil skirts, peplum blouses, prim full skirts and a finale of breathtaking, floor-skimming gowns all oozed femininity and grace, with a new sheer element that revealed the couturiers’ breathtaking handiwork. But how new is the New Look?

While the aesthetic might have been a 1950s interpretation of house classics, it was all about the late Amy Winehouse at Jean Paul Gaultier, even down to the troubled singer’s tumbling beehive hair, beauty spot and omnipresent cigarette. Think tight pencil skirts, polo shirts reworked as backless dresses and dishevelled cinched-in corset dresses revealing a little too much cleavage.

In complete contrast, Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Valentino collection was a celebration of the simply beautiful, with angelically romantic dresses that were as light as air and as delicate as the tiny floral prints that were liberally scattered across them.

It was a smart soirée at Armani Privé, as a metamorphosis-themed show saw models slither down the catwalk like slinky insects, glossy butterflies and the sexiest of snakes. Folds in pencil skirts, skin-tight cropped trousers and rounded shoulders on neat tailored jackets moulded around the body, while maxi evening dresses slid away like beautiful creatures shedding their skin.

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