Tag Archives: Haute couture

Spring/Summer 2014 Couture Highlights

There are 6 days and 25 designers (number varies as designers might sift in and out of this exclusive club) in Paris that define the most luxurious, most expensive side of the fashion industry: haute couture.  Many of you have heard the name before, but maybe were never fully educated as to what truly defines couture. Back in 1868, the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture was born. In 1973 it morphed into the French Federation of Fashion and of Ready-to-Wear of Couturiers and Fashion Designers. What makes couture immensely different from ready-to-wear is that everything is hand sewn, the fabrics are heinously expensive and highly unusual, while the attention to technique and detail is more on a grandeur scale and kept exclusive. What might take weeks to make a simple ready-to-wear dress would take months to craft a couture gown. These techniques and ideas date back to more than a century ago, and oddly enough it has survived. The French government even protects the titles and ideas of couture. Many slam the couture industry for being an exclusive and a non-lucrative business, however the idea of couture alone was meant to be seen as an art exhibition. One can see the business model behind couture come in somewhere in the mid 20th century, probably after the war, when the likes of the house of Dior would dress film starlets in the “new look”.  Today, we see still see film starlets wearing couture to the Oscars, and other awards shows that celebrate actresses being overtly successful in the entertainment industry. The price range on couture isn’t for the weak minded which is why we still only see it on the upper class today. Many argue that this sect of the fashion industry is dying and should rethink their business model because it’s too exclusive and does not bring in enough money, but after all these years haute couture still manages to survive.

dior new look 2

The New Look by Christian Dior

j law falling in dior

Remember this iconic moment at the Oscars? Jennifer Lawrence falling in Dior. She looks like a Disney princess.

While reading other reviews of the couture season, a lot of writers and bloggers a like were rather bored with this coming season. Maybe they were coming from the view point that this is a dying business. However, I found it to be rather invigorating, even though there were a couple questions marks on some designs here and there. Ethereal comes to mind for many names. Viktor & Rolf hired professional dancers from the Dutch National Ballet to tip toe their way around the runway in teased and cascading fro’s with immense and cream draperies, Karl Lagerfeld opened Chanel with Cara Delevigne running down the stairs in thousand dollar sneakers (this is one of the odd ball question marks) on a spinning stage with Sebastien Teller playing “L’amour Naissant”. Maison Martin Margiela showcased some controversial tattoo ensembles. I can already see the celebrities wearing pieces from Zuhair Murad , or Elie Saab to the Oscars(predictable). Though I do enjoy their designs, both Murad and Saab tend to send the same sheer and sparkly silhouettes down the runway season after season, though they’ve found a beautiful system that works for them, it is not as exciting. I will go down start from what I found to be memorably outstanding, and to the questionably foreseeable levels of the runway.

Outstanding Ovations:

 Viktor & Rolf

viktor and rolf 2

viktor and rolf 3

viktor and rolf

viktor and rolf themselves

viktor and rolf finale

I love the use of print and draping. It plays with the mind in the best of ways. The birds give the illusion they are pinching the fabric between their beaks, the bows feel like they’re the only thing holding the dress together. The colors are light, they blend into the skin. This was my favorite show of the season. When I first began looking at the runway shows and in my early years of getting into fashion, Viktor & Rolf were the first designers, next to Rodarte to inspire me and give me chills. To this day, they always impress me with their theatricalities. I can only hope someone is smart enough to go to the Oscars in one of these, I could see Tilda Swinton or maybe Saoirse Ronan basking on the red carpet in one of the longer silhouettes with pants underneath.

“We like the idea that you don’t know what’s skin and what’s clothing. We are blurring the lines between the two,” explained the duo after the show. “We wanted latex that was as light and ethereal as chiffon. It needed to be delicate for it to be right for couture. We literally wanted to elevate the whole collection. It’s the whole purpose of haute couture.” -Viktor & Rolf on their S/S 2014 couture show.

gif credit goes to Oxford + Park

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Alexander McQueen Remembered: An Ode and Memoriam for the Artist

Sarah Burton has indeed so kept McQueen's idea of avant-garde in mind...

On this day exactly one year ago… Lee Alexander McQueen killed himself. Found dead in his apartment… hung by what actually was his favorite belt. He was depressed and people suspect it was possibly due to his mother’s recent death and the fact that he was on drugs.  The fashion industry mourned for the loss of a genius. Countless magazines have done multiple spreads and editorials with his more recent clothing  ever since he died, it really has been a “field day” of a year due to his death. Alas, Sarah Burton (McQueen’s assistant) took over the label after his death. She truly sticks by to what his aesthetic represented with her first collection for Spring 2011. People were doubtful of the dedicated assistant  but, she did not fail! It was obvious that Burton had her mentor in mind when designing. Taking inspiration from the environment like monarch butterflies, snake scales, intense flowers and clashing all of these things into a couture-esque medieval array of clothing… she birthed a successful masterpiece. I think McQueen is looking down on Burton as she is taking over his label… and I have a feeling he is proud of her.

Notorious, theatric rebel... Lee Alexander McQueen

Back to the main man. Lee Alexander McQueen was always an addict for haute couture, I mean come on… he was the chief of Givenchy for a while. And he was actually a rebel while working for the infamous French couture house. He labored over his work for a good period of his life. Some of his early work was considered awful, he really did have to work his way to the top with many against him. A lot of controversy came out of his work truth be told. Known for unconventional runway shows and too extreme clothing. He had myriads of people on his back. Not every artist makes his way to the top so easy, you know? But in all honest truth… I look back on these so-called odd runway shows and I see stunning and inspirational surrealism. He had a diverse theme and always put something different on the table  every season. Was it too over the top for him to do these things? Yeh, but… isn’t that what makes any artist? Seems like all the great ones are surrounded by loads of controversy. Anyway, it took everyone a while to warm up to McQueen. Looking back at all of his collections… you never know if they were really tamed or not. I think some his most memorable moments in fashion are:

HORN OF PLENTY

1) Fall 09′, his intense couture show with all of the intense black/red/white gowns and all of the large puffy voluptuous red lips. And  his army of hardcore models stomping around the elegant pile of trash. This is one for the books, no doubt.

IT’S ONLY A GAME

2) Fashion Chess Spring 2005 for his ready to wear collection. I mentioned it earlier. But no one else in the world would have thought of REAL-HUMAN-FASHION-CHESS! He organized the models based on diverse loads of skin color, hair color, and the color of their outfit. Then at the last moment… you realized that he set them up into a chess board. Genius. The crowns on the two queens are a perfect touch as well.

WIDOWS OF CULLODEN

3) For Autumn 2006… the Widows of Culloden. A life-size Kate Moss ( who was stunningly draped/dressed in yards and yards of fabric…) hologram appeared and danced and people were shocked and amazed. And the entire collection. Truly inspiring and it had this literate sense to it. Beautiful.

SARABANDE

4) Spring 2007, McQueen was inspired by the classical and 18/19th century elegance. The man got a whole orchestra playing in the middle of the runway. This dress is renowned for its floral likeness. And the orchestra played Saranbande by Handel, his favorite song!

5) Back in 1999… McQueen held a special collaboration of technology and fashion. He spray painted a model with robots in a trapeze dress while having her spin on a floor wheel. McQueen actually hired a  model/athlete named Aimee Mullins, who actually walked on his runway with wooden prosthetic legs…. McQueen made those “wooden boots”… and no one knew that they were fake legs! She has come a long way with those legs… but that is for another time.

VOSS

6) Nicknamed the “Asylum Collection” for Spring 2001… he captured the essences and motifs of a lunatic. Stunning shoulder pieces if I might add….

DELIVERANCE

7) Ballroom stumbling and catching within a dance floor orgy for Spring 2004. Whew. Probably one of his more theatric/explicit shows!

LA POUPÉE

8 ) Back in 97′ he was inspired by geometric/creepy dolls with curving and sparkling headpieces. He made them stomp through water, which  wasn’t as popular back then. BUT he did with it good finesse.

THE OVERLOOK

9) McQueen took to doing a skating show. Ice skating that is, and very winter inspired. I am thinking he might of have a hard time finding models that could skate decently… oh and this was for Winter (no duh) 1999.

PLATO'S ATLANTIS

10) His last runway show before his death. Now Lady Gaga was actually featured in one of these outfits and he used her as one of his many muses. This show really reminded me of aliens… strangers with snake scales and intense heels gracing down the runway. AND, this was another one of his collaboration shows with a twist in technology. He filmed it with robotic cameras that followed the models as they walked down the runway.

These are not at all in favorite order. I enjoy all of them. And he has many more fashion shows that were extraordinary… these ones just stuck out to me. He was a genius to be reckoned with. Now… I know I could have given a brief history on him… but you can easily do that yourself. I wanted to bring together some of the moments that defined Lee Alexander McQueen as a fashion designer. He was daring. He had moxy. He took risks like no one else. He had an eye like none other. He is remembered through people like Sarah Burton, Vogue, Elle, the entire fashion industry. He inspired me. Having to work his way to the top… and getting crud from many people on his way there. He is remembered. R.I.P Lee McQueen. Rest in peace…. and long live McQueen.

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