Dior Haute Couture

There are few more joyous occasions in fashion than Paris Couture Week, although this year’s flamboyant celebration of clothing and artistry has been somewhat hampered by the depressed economy and the impending departure of one of the genre’s greatest voices, Christian Lacroix. The fact that he was able to put on a show at all is the big story of the week; suppliers and industry friends helped the designer piece together a last-minute collection and presentation for what could be his last couture show if his brand doesn’t find a backer quickly. It demonstrates an odd sort of collegiality among fashion industry workers that many on the outside looking in might overlook in the midst of so much glitz and fabulousness – it takes an army of people to make this happen for us a few times a year, and they work extremely long hours for really modest pay. That so many of them donated their time, skills and goods to Lacroix to put together what may be his final show is kind of touching, particularly in an industry known for ego and elitism. He’s not the only one to put on a show for fashion editors and couture customers this week, though – we’ve got a rundown of the best looks from the best shows, after the jump.

Christian Lacroix

Since this may be Lacroix’s last appearance, I thought it was only fitting that he went first. His collection was based mostly on fabrics and other materials that he already had in his atelier, which mostly resulted in looks far more restrained and widely understandable than average for the haute couture master. Perhaps the more accessible looks will help Lacroix’s label find investors; one can only hope. The bright spot of hope was the small collection’s final look – an intricate wedding dress worthy of the Virgin Mary rendered in stained glass. It was so thoroughly and classically Lacroix that it almost reasserted that the man intended to soldier on and make beautiful clothing.

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Chanel

I suspect that I may have been the only one that felt this way, but I just wasn’t feeling the majority of Chanel‘s collection. Sure, the 60+ look presentation was chock full of beautiful clothes; some of them were even breathtaking. And I know it’s a Chanel staple and part of the brand’s history, but I just don’t care to see more than a dozen versions of a wool skirt suit when I tune in to see Haute Couture. I want drama, I want a challenge, I want something I can’t wear to the office. As the presentation went on, things picked up nicely, but front-loading the suits made me feel like I had to wait quite a while before anything dramatic came along. And when it did, it was standard Chanel couture – lots of white, ivory, black and silver in looks that were thoroughly French and thoroughly intricate. Lace and beading abounded; I only wish that we could have skipped the suits and gone straight from the fabulous.

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Valentino

I don’t associate Valentino with haute couture in the same way that I do Lacroix or Gaultier, but I was immensely impressed by their collection. It was full of enough black lace, darkly beautiful silk roses, and jet beading to choke a goth, but despite the somber palette, the mood of the show was surprisingly youthful. Lace mini dresses and black rose-themed cocktail attire are on my fantasy list of night-out options, and Valentino’s stable of master couturiers realizes those options masterfully, in a way that is both young and extravagant. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s really pretty.

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Christian Dior

Another couturier choosing to not reinvent the wheel for this season was John Galliano at Christian Dior. Which is not to say that it wasn’t totally sublime – oh, it definitely was. The collection was a throwback to New Look Dior, simultaneously intricate and deconstructed in its use of corsetry and underpinnings as important elements of each ensemble. The colors were vibrant and cheerful, contrasting beautifully with the ivory and black base garments. This collection was a reminder of what couture is all about – extravagance, intricacy of construction, and clothing that can legitimately considered an art form. From the brilliantly enormous hats to the masterfully tailored coats and corsets, no collection reminded me more that couture is a single piece of clothing made for a single customer.

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Jean Paul Gaultier

Ahh, I saved the best for last. From Brigitte Bardot to Barbarella, Jean Paul Gaultier gave us a collection loosely based on the screen sirens of yesterday and today. And the clothes were full of film fantasy – alligator overalls, floor-length fur, mini dresses that appear to be made of liquid metal. Gaultier is a master of the outrageous and fantastic, and he makes the clothes that I wish I could wear, if I had an endless budget and the self-confidence necessary to pull off something like a sequin-covered sailor shirt. Anyone that can conceive of such amazing garments not only wins at couture week, but wins at life.

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  • bagpoor.blogspot.com

    lacroix’s show sucked…good riddance. i loved galliano’s sheer skirts, especially on chanel iman. suck it jesus…gaultier is my god now. fur, crocodile, sequins, nautical, rocker chick…all in one show…couture at it’s best!

    michael st. james

  • http://graduationday.wordpress.com Amanda Mull

    I’ve gone back to look through Gaultier’s show several times since I wrote this, and I’m still absolutely floored every.single.time. It’s one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever seen – simultaneously current and retro, with just enough references to keep all the different looks cohesive. The second to last look of his that I featured – the liquid metallic mini dress – if I had it, I would wear it everywhere. I would sleep in it, wear it to the grocery store, whatever. It’s personally my favorite single garment of couture week, even though it’s not the most outrageous or complicated.

  • 19yearslater

    The Lacroix are my favourites here and there is so much beautiful clothing. I hope he makes it. Some of those Dior looks seem like a nightmare sequence in which a critical item of clothing is forgotten.

  • Brigette

    Love this post! I totally agree with your comments on Chanel. While everything, as usual, is beautiful…it just bores me for haute couture week. I sure hope investors find Lacroix, he’s always been one of my favorites. Would be so sad if it’s truly the end. I get so eager to see what masterpiece he makes next. This year, that wedding dress, ah! Dior’s show definitely epitomized couture week. & as for Gaultier…freaking genius. Period.

  • Davina

    I love Dior’s pieces- just gorgeous!

  • hect

    dior is fantastic but i think this time im just not feeling lacroix but i have to say he is trying i mean he is not just brining the archive back he is a strong believer of the new and the bold but in terms of what is usefull i have to go with the splendid dior show. it has a sense of magic i have not seen in some time , as for gaultier perfect perfect its all i can say exotic thrilling just so gaultier and so intense in the sense of work and genius behind it!!!

  • hect

    as for valentino what went wrong so not!!!!!!! valentino i mean no romance and no true valentino inner sense i just cant see it . and chanel is finally comming in to the XXI century and inovating more not divorcing itself from coco but morphing in to a newer bolder more challenging chanel its more true chanel less camelia and pearl chanel that is not to dispute the core values but i mean its like i saw chanel again in its spirit and true sense of unique self style i love its fantastic

  • http://helplesscircus.blogspot.com/

    Good riddance to Lacroix? Wow, harsh words to a man who’s name is almost synonymous with couture. True, this collection from Lacroix is not spectacular, and is far from what he really is capable of. But the collection and show itself was a testament to how respected and well loved this man is by his employees and peers, many of whom supported this collection by working for next to nothing. This collection would never have been possible if this man hadn’t accumulated some seriously good fashion-karma.

    I wasn’t really crazy about the Gaultier show. Some beautiful silouhettes, but I’m missing a little more cohesion.
    The Givenchy show was ridiculously spectacular. If anyone hasen’t seen it, do it NOW!

    My favourite was Dior. In this financial climate we need a bit of fun, but yearn for nostaligia. Galliano succeeded in litteraly stripping away some of the crazyness of couture, but still achieving the impeccable glamour of Dior. A great collection that consolidates the brand identity of Dior.

  • MizzJ

    I totally agree with your synopsis of the week! Dior and Galliano stole the show for me with their just plain fabulousness. Looking at these photos I feel a big twinge of sadness for Lacroix, it’s very sad to see such talent leave.
    http://highmaintenancewoman.blogspot.com

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  • edwardy

    definitely Dior and Gaultier….
    i am a male and i would totally drag :P wearing the 6th look from the Gaultier collection as shown here…AWESOME….

    Valentino….no romanticism here…wheres the timeless femininity ?

    the spirit of couture should never cease tho the economy is unstable…couture is pure artisan in clothing….and its ultimate luxury…
    and couture is the core collection that inspire the whole RTW, accs collection….

  • Matar

    i want to buy Chanel Hollywood NS Hobo in Silver ? how to buy please?

  • Adrienne Zedella

    beautiful collection (fb)

  • tracy mcgee

    could somebody please tell me the name of the lilac dior bag in the haute couture collection at the top of the page

  • Adrienne Zedella

    this would have been something to see (fb)

  • Adrienne Zedella

    didn’t we see this on the other page? (fb)

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