Paris Haute Couture SS17: A Dreamlike Show Honoring Flowers
A spirit of renewal and originality swept over the city of Coco Chanel from January 22 to January 26. A far cry from the globalized frenzy of some other ready-to-wear shows, Haute Couture– the spiritual home of all that is innovative in fashion craftsmanship and runway– once again brought the fashion world of Paris to a standstill with four days of pure magic.
Embroiders, feather workers, lacemakers, pleaters and many other exceptional craftspeople were given a moment to showcase their work at this year’s Couture shows, which transported us into an exquisite, luxurious dream world. This year’s exercise in artistry attracted as much attention and curiosity as ever: the front rows of Couture SS’17 were full of leading figures from the industry sitting alongside young fashion bloggers, iPhones in hand, as everyone tried to capture the unique beauty of this fleeting, dreamlike spectacle.
This year, seemingly to honor Pantone’s recently-announced Color of The Year, green was the order of the day. Models metamorphosed into nymphs and floral goddesses floated with grace and elegance along the catwalks in venues transformed into botanical gardens and wild forests. From Viktor & Rolf’s rustic, chimeric nymphs to Valentino’s organic Greek goddesses, many nature-inspired styles dominated the runway. All of them, however, were a world away from the biting cold and pollution-laden air of the city outside. Dior and Jean-Paul Gaultier led the way in this botanical bonanza, which was both ethereal and grounded in a passion for the natural world, even down to the setting of each show.
Christian Dior’s haute couture collection was presented in the gardens of the Musée Rodin. Maria Grazia Chirui– a veritable Shakespeare of our time in the world of Fashion– immersed us in a dream in which masked tree and forest nymphs, the Dryads, and Napaeae swept gently along a freshly-laid moss carpet in their flower-embellished dresses.
And yet Jean-Paul Gaultier’s uninhibited show, full of colorful, pop-inspired, moody, pouting country belles, could not have been more different from this spectacle of Shakespearian sophistication. To the melodies of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” and Thomas Fersen’s “Le Bal des oiseaux”, Gaultier’s rural queens, their hair braided and sprinkled with ears of wheat, evoked the vitality of youth, the musings of nature, and the beauty of an ideal way of life with carefully-crafted simplicity. It was a wonderfully whimsical breath of fresh air that took us far away from the heavily polluted reality of Paris’ streets.
The week’s bucolic adventure drew to a close at the Musée des Archives Nationales, where Giambattista Valli’s Leimoniads incorporated a subtle blend of material and color to draw our attention to the unique elegance of each individual flower used in the show, as if leafing through an herbarium. The plant motifs at this show enveloped the models’ bodies, giving the impression of flowers climbing up canes and wrapping themselves tightly around their hosts before blossoming. Like others at this year’s Couture Week, the show combined the fantastical with the surreal, enthralling and captivating spectators before leaving them with an indelible memory of pure botanical magic– both on and off the runway.