Although Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week is over, there are some beauty looks you won't want to miss from the French catwalks. While the shows herald high-on-style looks for Fall, some can be converted for your remaining summertime adventures. From the lime green eyeliner at Dior to the braided bun at Elie Saab, peep the best hair and makeup styles from one of the year's biggest fashion fetes. Be forewarned, though: some of these styles are only for the bold.
Elie Saab's Fall 2012 Couture collection was nothing short of a red carpet affair. By “infusing the collection with imperial splendor,” Elie's Constantinople era-inspired collection was filled to the brim with a decadent beading and lace awash in pretty hues of pale pink, gold, nude, and even a few pops of teal. The show kicked off with a line of dramatic, shimmery black gowns (led by model-of-the-moment Karlie Kloss) followed by a pretty regalia of softer hues, some of which highlighted cocktail appropriate knee-length dresses. Fancier eveningwear showed intricate sheer lace detailing, high slits, and luxurious embroidery. We already predict a bevy of A-listers anxiously waiting for their next red carpet premiere just for a piece of this glamorous collection.
- Trends: Lace, sheer detailing, and high slits
- Colors: Black, nude, pink, light blue, teal, and gold
- Key piece: The gold lace column gown worn by Karlie Kloss hits all notes of perfection.
- Accessories: Skinny belts, black, gold, and light blue sandals
- Who would wear it: Red carpet stunners like Zoe Saldana, Emma Stone, and Gwyneth Paltrow
Dark-hued luxury in rich brocade and midnight-navy silks dominated Valentino's Couture collection for Fall 2012. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli revisited the ethereal silhouettes and deep palette present in Fall's ready-to-wear, but explored new shapes in evening wear too, this time topping their gowns with capes and raising the hemlines and necklines of slim-cut brocade sheaths. We get both a sense of the regal — most obviously from the capes sweeping the runway — but also in the intricacy of embellishments and the sheer weight of the brocade fabrics. Necklines cited more sophistication than sensuality, though there's certainly a fair share of skin to be seen in the sheer insets and cutouts of the more fluid gowns. The designers married their influences, French painter Gustave Moreau mixed in with the elegance of a modern woman, calling to mind stylish ladies like front-row attendee Olivia Palermo or Charlize Theron. Like their own appeal, the beauty of this collection was all about nuances that came together to frame a larger, richer, big picture.
- Trends: Brocade, sheer, florals, capes, embellishments
- Colors: Navy, red, black, soft yellow, and pink
- Key piece: The brocade pastel yellow sheath and the sheer and lace-inset navy gown with cape
- Accessories: Lace-up heels, ballet-slipper inspired pumps
- Who would wear it: Red-carpet beauties like Charlize Theron
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli kept up the dark streak from their Fall ready-to-wear line when they created their evening-focused Fall 2012 Couture collection. The show was partly inspired by the painter Gustave Moreau, who, according to the house, was "a lover of dark colors but never painted with black." The resulting assortment traveled to visual extremes: at times it relied on heavy brocades, painted floral patterns, and intricate beadwork for a sense of richness and luxury, and at others the simplicity of long-sleeved dresses in dark, solid colors made for stark contrast. But even the dresses in basic black carried more than meets the eye — the first dress that came down the runway, a sheer, pleated number in black chiffon and crepe de chine, took 500 hours to create. Offering both forms of high-concept design seems an effective strategy: Valentino CEO Stefano Sassi said couture orders are now back to the volume they enjoyed in 2008, when Valentino Garavani was still designing.
Karl Lagerfeld showed Chanel's Fall 2012 Couture collection in Paris's Grand Palais to a star-studded crowd that included Diane Kruger, Clémence Poésy, and Sofia Coppola. Themed "new vintage," the collection highlighted a chic array of the brand's signature tweed cut in true ladylike fashion — skirt sets, dresses paired with cropped jackets, and slouched trouser suits inspired by Coco Chanel all emoted an understated elegance, while slouched beanies and metallic tights injected a dose of modernity. But that's not to say the drama was missing, as eveningwear highlighted the designer's decadent side. Lagerfeld's intricately beaded separates, silver lurex gowns, and silk dresses were the perfect mix of vintage modern glamour. However, the pièce de résistance was the closing look worn by Lindsey Wixson: a white tulle and pearl embellished gown, which reportedly took over 3,000 hours to make. More details from the collection below.
- Trends: Ladylike tweed, metallics, loose trousers, beading.
- Colors: Gray, pink, purple, black, silver, blush.
- Key Piece: The slouched trouser sets and jaw-dropping tulle and pearl embellished white gown.
- Accessories: Metal cap-toe pumps, metallic leather fingerless gloves, metal belts, slouched beanies, shimmer tights.
- Who Would Wear It: Girls who crave chic looks with a twist like front-row attendees Diane Kruger and Clémence Poésy.
For Chanel's Fall 2012 Couture show, Karl Lagerfeld threw a garden party in Paris's Grand Palais — complete with wicker chairs, bushes of camellias, plates of macarons, and a ceiling painted to look like the sky.
The show, themed "new vintage," was an homage to Chanel's design history. Lagerfeld remade Coco Chanel's classic jackets in pink-and-gray tweed, then added tulle to their wrists and hems. Other versions of the jacket were cinched at the waist with metal belts and paired with tweed skirts or flowing, printed pants, and a double-breasted variation on the theme was shown with metallic fingerless gloves.
The collection's dresses were eye-catching — one combined jagged layers of gray tulle and stiff pink ribbon to create horizontal stripes, while a few others used tulle to accentuate the shoulders. Anna Wintour and her daughter, Bee Shaffer, were seen whispering to each other as a model walked past them. Lagerfeld attributed the hushed excitement his collections receive to the hard work of the seamstresses in his atelier. "They toil over the clothes. The tulle with pearl took 3,000 hours," he said. "Couture is for a world of privilege."
That privilege must extend to getting to touch the clothes before anyone else does. As Lindsey Wixson walked past in the "tulle with pearl" dress at the end of the show, its train brushed the wicker chairs in the front row.
There was no shortage of glitz at Atelier Versace's Fall 2012 show on Monday, the first full-on runway outing for the couture label in nearly a decade. In fact, Donatella seemed intent on summoning the flamboyant spirit of the label's founder, Gianni. The show was held in the storied pool room of the Ritz Paris — the same place Gianni used to hold his show — with the pool covered over and three sleek glass panels providing an electric-hued backdrop.
The theme, the show notes stated, was "deconstruction and reconstruction in all its various forms." This manifested itself in the perforated-leather jackets, plasticized-strip minidresses, and pieced-and-stitched gowns — with slits up to there — that came down the runway glittering with crystal beads and in pastel metallics. Silhouettes, too, played with the idea of juxtaposition and revision, in skin-revealing layers and curve-enhancing forms: the skirts of gowns billowed out from second-skin corsets, and sharp-flared jackets nipped in at the waist with tough leather belts.
Photos courtesy Versace
Raf Simons set the scene for his Couture collection with wall-to-wall flowers in a private home on the Avenue d’Iena in Paris — lovely as they were, they still played second fiddle to the craftsmanship of his Dior debut. In perfect balance, Raf celebrated both the fashion legacy at Dior, while staking out a claim for his own. He married the history of the house's '40s aesthetic with re-creations of Dior's archival patterns sewn into the backs of his ornately embroidered dresses, but the skillful tailoring told a much more contemporary story. Slim trousers, topped with fit-and-flare dresses and peplum trim were part of Raf's own modern narrative, as were the full, voluminous gowns topped with sheer, t-shirt like tops. Right down to the pointed-toe pumps, red lips, and pearls, Raf honed in on our favorite parts of ladylike dressing without building caricatures, thanks to proportions, functionality in evening wear, and trends that play to today's woman and her point of view. For Raf, vintage Dior was the jumping off point — but it wasn't the full story.
- Trends: Menswear, peplum, cinched waists, outerwear as evening wear, dresses over pants
- Colors: White, navy, black, petal pink; a splash of canary yellow, red, and fuchsia
- Key piece: Ladylike coats, cinched at the waist and worn as dresses; fit-and-flare dresses over slim-cut pants
- Accessories: Classic, pointed-toe pumps, wide metallic belts, pearl-encrusted chokers and cuffs; ladylike gloves
- Who would wear it: Demure, classic beauties like Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams; we'd love to see Diane Kruger in the full-skirted, blue-floral print gown.
Designers, editors, socialites, and royalty were among those who watched Raf Simons's debut couture show for Christian Dior at a flower-filled Paris mansion Monday. The high turnout seems almost as significant as the garments themselves: Cathy Horyn noted that having such a large number of fellow designers in attendance — the group included legends Pierre Cardin, Azzedine Alaia, Diane von Furstenberg, Alber Elbaz, Riccardo Tisci, Donatella Versace, Marc Jacobs, and Simons's Dior Homme counterpart Kris Van Assche — was "surely a first in fashion."
Anna Wintour and Hamish Bowles were also at the show — Wendi Murdoch sat between them — and so were fellow editors Grace Coddington, Glenda Bailey, Alexandra Shulman, Stefano Tonchi, and Edward Enninful. Emanuelle Alt said she hadn't "been this excited to see a show in a long time. Today I'm going to see something I've never seen before." When Derek Blasberg saw Marion Cotillard, Stella Tennant, and Charlotte Rampling arrive at the show, he observed, "Raf is one popular boy!"
Popular indeed. Bernard Arnault, who owns Christian Dior, attended the show with his daughter Delphine — sat next to Princess Charlene of Monaco — his son Antoine, and Antoine's girlfriend Natalia Vodianova.
Despite favorable reviews and warm accolades in general, the applause at the end of the show was described by some as "lackluster." Simons himself may not have noticed — the designer "only waved for a second and left."
A series of rooms filled with an abundance of flowers set the stage for Raf Simons's thoroughly modern couture debut at Christian Dior. But even though the blooms, arranged by color across five salons, were mesmerizing — Anna Wintour was overheard saying to Grace Coddington, "Isn't this amazing? A million flowers." — their beauty didn't distract from the glory of the show.
With respectful nods to the house's past, Simons created a collection that interpreted Christian Dior's 1947 design aesthetic for women living in 2012. Some said the collection represented a New New Look, and with its generous peplums and updated versions of wasp-waisted dresses and balloon-skirted gowns, this collection certainly belongs to that tradition.
The backs of some dresses were covered in reproductions of Dior's archival embroidery patterns, while the fronts were decorated with Simons's version of the same embellishments. Pastel feathers were used in the embroidery work to inject the house's signature colors into the offering. Cathy Horyn tweeted a picture of the house's classic bar jacket, which was treated with black beads that looked like caviar and paired with cigarette pants. The garments that were left unadorned — like a slim strapless cocktail dress in pale pink — displayed subtle details like gentle pleating. Derek Blasberg proclaimed that "in the last 13 minutes, Raf Simons just single-handedly altered the contemporary haute couture landscape."
Other important faces in the industry, including Alber Elbaz, Pierre Cardin, Stefano Tonchi, Franca Sozzani, Marc Jacobs, Donatella Versace, and Azzedine Alaia, attended the show. Diane von Furstenberg said the offering was "superb" and exclaimed "another talented Belgian!" Nina Garcia, meanwhile, said Simons's show was "beautiful, perfect, and simple." And it was.