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Photo: Courtesy of Dior

This Season’s Paris Haute Couture Pays Tribute to the Garden and Women

Dominating the French capital from July 2-6th, Paris’ Haute Couture Fashion Shows remain a highlight of the Parisian cultural calendar. From Dior’s modern safari to Fendi’s floral galaxy and Giambattista Valli’s lush man-made Eden, 2017’s designers once again offered up unique and chimeric escapes through garden-inspired designs that were as different as they were epic.

Photo: Courtesy of Dior

For Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri created a poetic map of the world in the Vauban courtyard at the Hôtel des Invalides, inspired by Christian Dior’s travels, which celebrated 70 years of adventures from the dream couturier.

In this luxuriant open-air garden, Chiuri placed five carved wooden animals, representing the five continents of the globe, while Dior’s models-cum-adventurers walked a cosmic podium. Dressed in ethereal organza ball gowns hand embroidered with flowers, constellations and tarot symbols, Dior’s looks recreated a scene from an otherworldly atlas. The designer offered a carefully-crafted composition with a rich homage to poetry and an ode to the spirit of adventurer, for whom the journey matters more than the destination.

Photo: Courtesy of Giambattista Valli

Giambattista Valli, the prince of plant life, chose the flowery courtyard of the Petit Palais as the stage for his nymphs. With its majestic columns garnished with garlands of golden plants, the monument was bathed in the late evening sunlight as models took to the catwalk, they themselves seemingly transformed into flowers in their petal-coloured dresses embroidered with fine, precious bouquets.

Each ensemble was adorned with sumptuous vintage jewelry in an environment with come-hither mystique– the space seems to echo a fairytale in which a perfumed garden attracts women who may not have expected to succumb to this kind of reverie. It can be difficult to imagine oneself in such a beautiful garden for an autumn-winter collection, as the entire collection reflects a luxuriant and springlike vision of nature.

For Fendi, Karl Lagarfeld redefined flower power by transforming the theatre of the Champs Elysees into an enchanted garden reminiscent of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The models, like floral paintings brought to life, swept lightly over the catwalk, suspending time and breaking with convention, transforming the flower– typically an embroidered, summer decoration– into walking a winter motif created from fur.

Haute Couture Week often showcases elitism and popular entertainment simultaneously, but this year’s showcases offered a unique means of escape. The shows for Fall-Winter 2017-18 seemingly beckon viewers off the beaten path, inviting them to take risks in the name of self expression. After all, she who dares often wins. Reinvention through embellishment is the designers’ mission–and what better symbol for this revolution than plants, those timeless emblems of regeneration and beauty?

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Check out our favorite looks from this year’s runway, below.

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