>> Versace just released images of its Fall 2011 Atelier Versace couture collection. Teal fur chubbies, vintage Versace prints pulled back out of the archives for voluminous skirts, and metallic minidresses printed with "I heart Versace" populate the offering, which also includes the dress Katy Perry recently wore to the MTV VMAs.
>> After eight years of eschewing the runway, Azzedine Alaia closed out the Fall 2011 couture season. Models in velvet gowns and Mongolian lamb coats stomped out to Josephine Baker singing “Je suis snob” and Beyonce's "Girls Who Run the World," as guests Sofia Coppola (with daughter Romy Mars), Kanye West, and Donatella Versace looked on; no one from Vogue was said to be in attendance.
It took a 10-minute standing ovation and French culture minister Frederic Mitterrand dragging Alaia shyly from backstage for the designer to take a finale bow. Afterwards, Versace rushed backstage to congratulate the "master" designer: “It was amazing. I’m so glad I’m here. I wanna steal the boots actually, but I better not.” When asked why Mitterrand chose to attend only Alaia's show during couture, he replied: “Designers all have a world — but Alaia has a universe.”
>> Couture season has come and gone once again, and although we have a great appreciation for the runway pieces painstakingly hand-embroidered, hand-sequined, and hand-pieced by each atelier's petites mains, we also love the fresh dose of street style that the shows bring. Roitfelds and cat eye sunglasses galore — we've distilled our favorite street style snaps from the Fall 2011 Paris couture season in the slideshow.
>> After seeing Black Swan a few months ago, Jean Paul Gaultier decided to give his label the ballet treatment for Fall 2011 couture. Hence, tutu-like peplums on jackets, toe shoe-inspired heels, and a prevalence of black feathers (in a nod to the Darren Aronofsky's aforementioned film). Gaultier didn't leave his punkish roots behind, however, giving his signature Breton stripes the mink treatment, turning trenchcoats into evening dresses, and casting Eve Salvail, the '90s model with the bald, tattooed head, who hasn't set foot on a runway in 15 years. French pop icon Mylene Farmer closed out the show — which included a ski sweater composed entirely of exotic feathers — as bride.
>> Elie Saab says his Fall 2011 couture collection — red carpet-ready, as always — was inspired by skyscrapers, but stylist Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou, who has worked with Saab for three collections, laid it out in layman's terms: "We wanted to explore the fragility of femininity. These dresses have a diaphanous fairy like feel to them but remain empowering. It's always a challenge to relate Elie's inspirations and themes to his couture customers but he remains mindful of this at all times." The collection, filled entirely with dresses — most of which reached the floor — was presented in a kind of ombre formation, each section exiting by color: first aquamarine, then white, blush, mauve, bronze, and finally, navy, before the couture bride brought it back to white.
>> While Riccardo Tisci is having a white moment, Karl Lagerfeld is continuing his play with the dark. Held at 10:30 pm, after the Paris dusk had faded to night, the Chanel show, called "Les Allures de Chanel," was dominated by blacks, greys, and midnight blues (save a couple of pops of fuchsia). The set this season featured a statue of Coco Chanel placed atop a neon-lit rendering of the Place Vendome column, and for the finale, the toecaps of the models' boots lit up. Lagerfeld said his focus for the collection was "a play on masculine-feminine — pairings of straight up-and-down silhouettes, versus curvy ones, cut from the same fabric." He continued: "I like the idea of metamorphosis — a female evolution from boyish to woman."
>> With all the high profile weddings this year, it's no wonder that the idea of a white, floor-length gown has seeped into Riccardo Tisci's mind. For the Givenchy Fall 2011 couture collection, he produced ten such dresses, shown grouped into three rooms named "tears of angels," the "cloud room," and "bird of paradise" after their respective inspirations.
Explaining his color of choice for the dresses, Tisci said: “I try to find the light in the darkness . . . White has become very strong — when women want to be sexy and romantic at the same time, white is there.” His favorite dress of the collection, covered with hand-cut tulle paillettes, was inspired by his graduation project at Central St. Martins.
>> Giorgio Armani, who says that he has always admired “the captivating culture and the refined sense of aesthetic” of Japan, and was “profoundly moved by the tragic events unleashed by the earthquake last March,” deemed his Fall 2011 Prive collection a homage to the country. Printed floral silk patterns graced skirts, bow belts emulated the obi, stiff headdresses — into some of which Philip Treacy snuck chopsticks — suggested the sculpted hair of a geisha, and the primarily black collection stuck to a pin-thin silhouette.
>> Giambattista Valli finally got the opportunity to show his own couture collection yesterday (when designing at Emanuel Ungaro from 2001 through 2004, he focused on ready-to-wear while Ungaro himself held the couture reins) as a guest member of the Paris couture calendar.
“The most beautiful thing about the couture is the devotion,” Valli noted after the show, which encompassed a whopping 45 looks focusing on the Valli DNA — bicolored dresses, volume and endless amounts of chiffon, pops of vivid color, and animal prints. The opening look was inspired by the blouse de cabine — the white tunic shirt of the atelier worker — which Valli intended to symbolize his couture as a “work in progress,” and his partner, jewelry designer Luigi Scialanga, was also involved, contributing metal belts that Valli wanted to "suggest the arms of the man around the waist of the girl — savage, wild, strong, against the fragility of the clothes.”
>> At the Dior Fall 2011 couture show yesterday, studio director Bill Gaytten and first assistant Susanna Venegas took the finale bow. Just last week it was rumored that Gaytten may be in the running for the top job at Dior, and Gaytten, when asked backstage yesterday if he wanted to be Dior creative director, replied, “Yeah, I do,” adding: “I’m not a fool.”
However, despite the rumors and Gaytten's wishes, WWD determined that after his architecture-inspired Dior couture show yesterday (which Style.com called "a misjudged effort to impress an alien thumbprint on an aesthetic that, for better or worse, is one of the fashion industry's most clearly defined"): "If a germ of truth ever existed there [to the rumors of Gaytten taking over], this show likely squashed it."
Cathy Horyn, too, agreed that Gaytten should not be Dior's next creative director (a feeling that seems to have been held across the board): "I like Mr. Gaytten. He’s a sweetheart, but he is not a designer. The collection presented today, with modern architectural shapes as the reference (at least that explains the dumb cubes and balls embedded in the models’ hair), was a hodgepodge."