Day three: Couture Fashion Week

Spring couture: Jean Paul Gaultier, Elie Saab and Valentino

Day three of Paris’s Couture Fashion Week, and with a schedule including Jean Paul Gaultier, Valentino and Elie Saab, things were showing no signs of slowing down.

As fashion’s enfant terrible, Gaultier can be relied upon to add a subversive touch to the season’s proceedings. So while his contemporaries relied on intricate detailing to prove their artistry, Gaultier turned to transparency, creating a collection where swimsuits became evening gowns, and décolletage could be considered an accessory.

Cherry picking from a vast archive, the collection revisited some of his most iconic, and loved looks. And so the corset – perhaps the garment that has defined his career – was back, constructed from an array of ribbons, velvet, chain-mail and crystals, and worn atop nude chiffon dresses or leggings. 

Another Gaultier favourite, bullfighting, provided the collection with lace toreador trousers, cropped boleros, and frothy tulle flamenco gowns, which offered a sneak-peek of the models’ lingerie beneath, while structural shoulders and sharp pinstripe tailoring were instantly reminiscent of the designer’s Eighties heyday.

Onto Elie Saab, where things may have been slightly more predictable, but were no less intriguing.

A restrained palette of nudes, dusty violets, blue and oyster was broken up with subtle elements of the East, the odd obi sash and kimono sleeve-coats. Silhouettes were enhanced with layers of chiffon appliqués, 3-D in appearance.

Catering for his legions of celebrity fans, the feminine, yet glamorous, eveningwear will surely wing its way to next month’s Oscars red carpet, as with its sparkling embroidery the designs could be custom-made to compliment a sea of flashing cameras.

Ending the day, and Valentino divided the critics, as its two new creative directors took the helm for their first season. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli had a hard task at hand; their predecessor, Alessandra Facchinetti, lasted just two seasons, and so the stage was set, with their ultimate judge, Valentino Garavani himself, taking a ringside seat in the front row.

Clearly keen to please, the collection gave a hefty, respectful nod to the label’s heritage. The result took the Valentino label back to familiar ground, so the draped red dress, collared suits, and swing hem coats were all present and correct, but it was this politeness which had some arguing that the collection lacked any innovation, failing to breath any new life into the Italian house.

The real test will come next month, when the pair make their first stab at ready-to-wear. Until then, the jury will be out.

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