L'Enfant Terrible de la mode never stops to surprise. He dropped the bomb announcing over social media that this 50th anniversary Haute Couture show would've been the last, shaking up the whole fashion system. Then, continuing with his subtle approach, he started the celebration with the (fake) funeral scene from William Klein's 1966 movie "Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?." Lights down, curtain up and the show started. The beginning was a reprise of the film scenes where on stage, models dressed in black were mourning around a horned coffin carried by dancers. Inside, the rebirth of fashion: model Issa Lish in a white ribboned puffy sleeved mini dress started the feast of unforgettable entertainment. He celebrated themes which have always been obsessions to him: from denim to corsetry; the mariners; androgyny; tailoring; to world's traditions. It was a bash of happiness, and there was not even a second of nostalgia during the whole performance. Fashion-wise, in the expansive collection, he focused on upcycling by reclaiming clothes and fabrics from past seasons and from the vintage items he bought in the flea markets, giving them back a new life. For this occasion, he stated that the world is full of garments, often useless, so this show is also a spur to reuse, recycle because an article of proper clothing is alive. It sounds strange to write about the last runway show of Jean Paul Gaultier, as this is the chronicle of another column of the history of a style that will cease to excite us with his vision. In these confusing days (not only for fashion) of ephemeral talents, these sheer geniuses are also reassuring. Is it, maybe, another joke of the Enfant Terrible?
John Galliano at Maison Margiela Artisanal followed the same philosophy. Starting from the cyber-industrial revolution, we are living in he went back to analyse the XIX Century Industrial Revolution's society and its bourgeoisie investigating how those codes are still existing. It's a recycling process of manners (both aesthetic and social) that reuse old traditions to update modern etiquette. The designer turned gestures into clothes with constructions as expression of the body language like shrugging the coat off the shoulder or draping a plaid over the arm, researching in the past something that could be exciting in a society that turbo consume everything. The artisanal philosophy slows down and create the garments reclaiming the majority of the material used, and what is appreciable is that concept is not stressed as a sustainable marketing tool but just a will. The show was co-ed, and the Victorian aesthetic has been disassembled à la Margiela and reassembled in Galliano style: every look blended the spirit of that society, and its aesthetic proposed a new decadent image of a glorious fallen world. The women wore long perforated dresses, longuette skirts made in men's fabrics like checked or herringbone wools, voluminous coats and trench mixed with fake fur details, tulle and chiffon as memories of lavish festal evenings. The men swung between the bias cut sirene dresses from night excesses to the core of the masculine seriousness of the pinstriped or black suit dismantled and reworked as destructured tailleur or evening dresses. John Galliano's extreme constructions made the show visually intense. Still, the collection was bit cliché and stuck in his beloved references, as it would've been more exciting to identify and dissect the codes of a contemporary blurred bourgeoisie, disrupting it through the filter of his eyes.
At Valentino Haute Couture, Pierpaolo Piccioli moved a bit away from his signature design, by reshaping the figure. Together with the airy construction that made him built the dream, Piccioli narrowed and parted the silhouette adding new pieces to his repertoires. Tailored tuxedo jackets with lingerie laces; humble materials, such as tech fabrics or vinyl looking synthetic leather, paired with precious cashmere or silks introduced a new language for his work. Piccioli, referenced the fashion masters such as Roberto Capucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Emanuel Ungaro, and this was apparent yet if reshuffled with the Valentino Garavani heritage. The vertical silhouette was catchy: often with godet skirts, some other with deep slits, for erotic winks, or, when in black with a tapered line with beautiful and voluminous hairdo, it looked like the Italian singer Mina the fabulous host of the "Studio Uno" famous programme in the nascent Italian television in the Sixties. The evening part stressed on the ribbons one of the leitmotifs of the whole collection, adding some Piccioli elements. Everything started from the subconscious of every single person, the dream of the couture that could be both personal and collective. The designer dreams of creating a collection that then makes people imagine about fashion. A duality around which makes magic happens. Piccioli cleverly challenged himself, exploring a different path to evolve the style formula of his couture défile. Yet, this new version looked a bit soulless lacking pathos he used to infuse in his shows.
Viktor and Rolf threw it back to Seventies for their Haute Couture with a collection inspired by the "Little House on the Prairie" book by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Holly Hobbie, the character invented by illustrator Denise Ulinskas. It is the fourth season that the Dutch designers worked with their patterns archive to create the collection. Up until now, the upcycling process pushed them to exhaust their supply of unused fabrics, so for today's show they worked with the samples gathered throughout the years and reworked them with the patchwork technique adding value to something that in the recent past would have dismissed as waste. The nostalgic mood embodied the aesthetic of the delicate references adding an Haute Couture touch: full cloaks and longuette to mini dresses beautified with several frills. The result was more funky than romantic, as the look reminded us more of Harajuku girls than Holly Hobbie because the warm hues and the soft silhouette of the famous illustrations were missing in favour of brighter colours and very structured shoulder constructions.