Riccardo Tisci fused Hubert de Givenchy's clean-lined '60s silhouettes with an eclectic, bohemian gypsy vibe when he created his Fall 2012 Couture collection for Givenchy. The 10-look offering is as much a "collision of contradiction," as the house called it, as it is a study in how to take luxurious materials out of their own comfort zones. Nappa leather, for example, was cut into a fringe that got bonded back together to form the bodice and sleeves of one dress. The same fringe was also used to create a floor-length cape. When they were done cutting leather into strips, workers in Tisci's atelier turned their attention to creating a sort of mink lace — pieces of the fur were shaved away to allow for beadwork to shine through, then formed into coats with short kimono sleeves. Another cape spun from a red-and-black beaded fringe only displays its intricate pattern when it stands still. And that's where the contradiction in this collection is at play: the dresses that rely on movement and color to make statements blend perfectly well with beige wool column dresses that look forceful and powerful when they stand completely still.
Milla Jovovich, Sofia Coppola, Caroline Sieber, Clémence Poésy, Lou Doillon, and so many more — this season's batch of couture attendees was so chic that we had no choice but to devote the week's entire Best Dressed to the stellar looks spotted front row and outside the shows. From Michelle Harper's amazing plays on proportion to Anna Dello Russo's nonstop ensemble rotation (our favorite by far is the pink ball gown she wore while hanging around the Place Vendome) to Diane Kruger's perfect baby-blue French-girl redux — plus Alber Elbaz's superdapper suit, Marc Jacobs's red-soled shoes, Karl Lagerfeld's bejeweled brooch, and more — they're all right here, in the slideshow.
Though they were by turns intricately embroidered and heavily beaded, many of the Turkish-inspired garments in Elie Saab's Fall 2012 Couture offering looked light as air when they came down the runway in Paris this week. Saab said he focused on "infusing the collection with imperial splendor," so all 46 looks were of the same high-glamour, sparkly ilk that has made Saab a red-carpet staple. The almost ephemeral quality of many of these dresses and gowns came from their materials: sheer fabrics played host to rich embellishments, like Ottoman Empire motifs and fabric treatments that looked like gold leaf from afar. But Saab brought the collection back down to the ground with dresses in solid fabrics, too, which he decorated with the same expert hand he applied to the other breezy fabrics that floated down the runway.
Maison Martin Margiela's "artisanal"-themed Fall 2012 Couture collection combined found materials in exquisite handcrafted pieces that made perhaps the most avant-garde statement in Paris this week. The 15-piece collection included such items as an overcoat made from a windsurf sail, a jacket composed of baseball mitts, and a sleeveless jacket that used a crystal doorknob found in New York City as its fastener. Raf Simons, who started the week with his debut Couture collection for Dior, was seated in the front row at the show, leading many in the audience to believe that Margiela himself would make an appearance (the two are said to be good friends). But Margiela never showed his face . . . nor did the models who walked the runway, with their heads obscured by crystal-studded masks. The high-concept design in this collection stayed — literally — close to head and heart. Below the waist, most of the models wore pants cut from raw cotton or simple lace.
Jean Paul Gaultier made references to writer George Sand's scandal-inducing cross-dressing in the 1850s and the art deco movement of the 1920s for his Fall 2012 Couture show. The presentation combined looks for men and women seamlessly, as many of the women's looks had a decidedly masculine bent. Erin O'Connor opened dressed in a tuxedo, top hat, and cane, while Pete Doherty's voice was overheard lamenting that he has the "disease of the century" (the voiceover is a clipping from Doherty's turn in the film Confession of a Child of the Century, in which he plays a 19th century dandy). The looks that weren't borrowed from the boys were over the top in their delivery: a colorblocked fur coat provided a shroud of warmth to a sheer pale yellow dress embroidered with flowers, while a sleeveless jumpsuit in an intricate gold fabric was paired with a similarly spangled overcoat. Gaultier's finale bridal gown brought the focus back to the blend of masculine and feminine in the collection with a bodice that resembled a man's tail coat worn backward.
In a whirlwind week of Haute Couture, it's not an easy task to pick the crème de la crème (after all, isn't it all the best of the best?), but we did. After taking in the confections from Couture Week's heavy-hitters, we made it a mission to pick the most gorgeous gowns — the ones that totally took our breath away. From the lacy gowns at Valentino, finished in fairy-tale-like capes, to the all-out siren strapless numbers at Versace, there's nothing short of stunning in this curated collection of our favorites. Giambattista Valli said it with flowers, Givenchy with regal-inspired luxe — in any case, these truly are the most glamorous of them all.
Giorgio Armani's Fall 2012 Couture collection for Armani Privé was inspired by beauty found in the everyday: the sun rising in the morning and setting in the afternoon, the sky yielding to constellations of stars at night. That message was grounded in clothing colored to resemble the sky at various times of day: sunrise pinks, oranges, dusky purples, and midnight blues were featured prominently on colorblocked shirts, subtle ombre jackets, and cardigans with sheer sleeves — many of which were paired with Armani's signature full-cut trousers in black. By the time the show had progressed to evening, the looks looked more like night, too. Futuristic dresses (one asymmetrical gown featured a spike of fabric that veered off over the left shoulder) embroidered with crystals or affixed with sequins dominated the latter half of the collection and were shown on models wearing sheer, beaded veils that called to mind shooting stars and meteor showers. With those, Armani said he was trying to create an air of mystery, but they also added a textural layer of beauty to a show already infused with plenty of sparkle and glamour.
Alexis Mabille said he was "imagining women as jewels" when he created his Fall 2012 Couture collection, and that meant an assortment of gowns in jewel-toned fabrics studded with lots of sparkle. Mabille showed his dresses in shades of onyx, amethyst, tanzanite, silver, and gold, and decorated them with lace embellishments and Swarovski Crystallized Elements. (One long-sleeved black dress had over 600 Swarovski buttons applied to it.) But perhaps the most obvious sign of Mabille's bejeweled inspiration came in the form of a hair decoration: All the models in the show had their hair plastered into sickles with brooches hanging from the tips.
It was all about drama on top of drama at Jean Paul Gaultier's Fall couture show held on Rue Saint-Martin today. Inspired by George Sand, a famous female French writer known for wearing men's clothing and smoking in public in the 1800s, Jean Paul Gaultier's collection was brazenly designed, filled with corsets, top hats, embellished jumpsuits, and pretty much anything else one would hope for in a decidedly theatrical collection. Colored fur pieces like a pastel tricolored jacket showed off even more opulence, while metallic patchwork gave the line a more modern feel. Also of note, the designer featured both female and male models in the show, perhaps to show the unisex appeal, albeit for a more daring personality. Read more details below.
- Trends: Sheer detailing, colored fur, fringe, patchwork, jumpsuits.
- Colors: Red, light blue, gold, black, silver, purple, chartreuse.
- Key piece: The simple yet seductive black silk gown worn by Constance Jablonski.
- Accessories: Choker necklaces, netted headpieces, top hats, printed tights, chandelier earrings, platform pumps.
- Who would wear it: Girls looking for a subversive look; Lady Gaga, Rihanna.
Armani offered up dramatic menswear-inspired separates as a mainstay for his Fall 2012 couture collection, and yes, there's wearability tied to most everything here. Armani began with fluid sets of jackets and pants in easy proportion. The wide-cut, boxy jackets and fluid, wide-leg, and velvet-finished pants don't short on volume, but there's an element of practicality in it all, most notably from the simple flats and the black velvet berets paired with every outfit. If you were dressing in Haute Couture every day, then this might just be the most accessible, especially in a palette that flows so effortlessly from easygoing daytime to high-impact, midnight hues. Lilacs and soft blues on Armani's separates and sheaths quickly gave way to something darker and sequined in the eveningwear that followed suit. Gowns were dressed up in rich navy blues and blacks, a flash of Swarovski sequins, or a pretty organza that answered the call of after-hours glamour.
- Trends: Sequins, veils, suiting, sheer, peplum, boxy jackets, wide-leg trousers, and velvet fabrications
- Colors: Soft blue, pink, and lilac; black, white, navy, and royal blue
- Key piece: The strapless pink sequined gown
- Accessories: Embellished veils, fascinators, black berets, sleek clutches, T-strap pumps
- Who would wear it: Hollywood A-listers with a sleeker sensibility; Cate Blanchett