Paris Haute Couture Day Three: Armani Privé Haute Couture’s Precious Folk between Past and Future

“This is a collection hinged on past and future. It got back all the details we lost in the turns of time,” said Giorgio Armani before the show of his Haute Couture Privé collection for the Fall/Winter 2019/20presented at the Petit Palais. “I wanted to also express the era in which we are living, with these deep changes; that’s why I wanted this collection to be neither rètro nor avantgarde.” In fact, Giorgio Armani went back to the years spanning from the late the 80s and early 90s when the fashion system was still immature (he was one of the creators of it) and he was introducing the urban folk style. After 30 years he reinterpreted it, updating it for today's needs. At the time the privé didn’t exist (it was launched in 2005), so the atelier approach gave a more deluxe and light touch to all the looks. There are a lot of see-through effects: “Of course, I’m aware that this is not a new design, but what makes it special is the execution,” Armani explained. “The transparencies are nonchalant and ironic, never too serious.” The preciousness of the outfits gave a modern hint to the rigorous style of the designer. The masculine silhouette is another staple of Armani culture, the savoir faire of which is exploded in a softened tailoring where jackets were slim with spiky or soft rounded shoulders paired with tapered pants and skirts. The printed dots, in different sizes, were a leitmotif and everything had a continuous gleam because of the shiny silks and the long skirts and trousers always dubbed by crystal-embroidered tulle.

Giorgio Armani Privé Fall/Winter 2019 Haute Couture show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

The rounded library built in the Grand Palais was the set of the second show by Virginie Viard at Chanelwho took the helm of the maison after Karl Lagerfeld‘s demise. Her first Haute Couture collection followed the last Fall/Winter 2019/20 Prêt-à-Porter, the first she presented alone. The touch of the designer, longtime righthand of the “Kaiser,” is lighter and immediately recognisable, but yet linked to the pre-existing DNA ingrained by him. The pace has not changed, but her simplicity is adding a new soul to Chanel. It was a culture-couture show inspired by Mademoiselle Coco and Lagerfeld’s avid passion and love for books and reading. Elegant bookworm ladies (some of them were cute with nerdy glasses) walked quietly in the library through a smooth atmosphere like they were discovering the variety of publications and choosing what to read. The show started with a few coat dresses that reminded us of the precious Middle East kaftans with side slits with shiny silk lining. The tailoring was very strong: tight jackets with wide pants, tailleurs with cropped puffy shouldered jackets in bright orange and purple and one blue tuxedo. The signature bouclé wool was also very present in different colour and sizes. The girls quietly walked into the evening looks: black velvet became a tuxedo long dress, then satin, organza, laces for the gowns. Viard’s Couture debut already has her strong mark even if it looked delicate, nearly whispered.

Chanel Fall/Winter 2019 Haute Couture show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

The forgotten and lost 17th and 18th century castle was the main inspiration of the Couture collection of Givenchy by Clare Waight KellerThe ladies walking in an imaginary chateau picking up materials from everywhere and creating their clothes. “I envisaged these women remaking their dresses using what they found in the building,” said the designer backstage after the show. “The beautiful gowns were made with the fabric found, the hangings, all the skirts were made with drawstrings. I wanted this to look like you pulled the elements on yourself in a beautiful combination.” The contrast between the natural make-up and the impossible coiffure explained the mix of lost aristocracy and rebellious modernity. Every passage was a story, from punk effigies that popped up with night owl shaped hair and the stiletto plastic ankle boots and pumps to the most dreamy feather dresses that reminded us of swans and other birds that could have lived in the garden of the beautiful villa. Not for nothing, the title of the collection was “Noblesse Radicale,” and it perfectly set these clothes on an imaginary journey amidst past and future adopting new textures and volumes with ancient traces. It travelled around the world to India, too, collecting hand-painted palampore and mordant-dyed motifs, the silver filigree and the oversized earrings. The collection looked beautiful, but the main inspiration is a field deeply addressed by others and in which they built their strong DNA. They mastered the forgotten castles, nobles, and punk ladies, and around this they built an incredible imagery that is hardly forgettable. Even if Waight Keller’s references were deeply personal and different and the execution was masterful, the results immediately reverberated to other collections instead of the magic world she was inspired by. 

Givenchy Fall/Winter 2019 Haute Couture show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

During couture, Diego Della Valle presented his new long-awaited project with Alber Elbaz, Lanvin’s former Creative Director, and in partnership with Tod’s, and shared his happiness in launching a new shoe. The starting point was a very simple question: “Can a pair of shoes make you happy?” The answer was the result of long and deep thoughts by both Elbaz and Della Valle, who together share the same Italian values. “We’re living in a revolutionary time in a world that is constantly evolving,” explained the entrepreneur. “We need to evolve with it, adopting different business models and being aware that new things constantly happen. That’s why ‘Tod’s happy moment by Alber Elbaz’ project was born.” “I’m on the same page as Diego,” explained the French designer. “In these 4 years of breaks, I had the possibility to observe the fashion system as an outsider, and I kept asking myself how we could deal with these big changes. Is fashion today creating or curating? Is it only about fame or still about talent? Then, relieved, I realized that we cannot stop this evolution; it would be like Don Quijote against the windmills. Nowadays fashion is just needs and solutions.” This crystal clear analysis led Elbaz to work on a shoe that should be the next hybridization between a classic and a more sporty accessory. Della Valle is well-known to have invented, years ago, the most cross functional shoes with his Hogan brand, so he is chasing the new object that could become the 24/7 urban footwear par excellence. The trick was easy: the iconic Tod’s gommino driving shoes become more aerodynamic, made with catchy and funny colors, metal finishings, and neoprene in tune with Elbaz’s style and mounted on a redesigned sneaker sole. The result is a new and unexpected shape that surely mixes all these elements, but it must compete with all the other designs already on the market. The years when uber successful “Traditional” (1986) and “Interactive” (1995) models by Hogan were launched seem so far gone, the competition was almost zero and the lifestyle completely different, but Della Valle built a company that always kept the competition at way along with the ability to interpret consumers’ needs so he can now do the same with this Tod’s project.