Rare and Exquisite. Alaïa AW17 Couture

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The haute couture week in Paris couldn’t end in a better way. In accordance with his manner of doing ‘everything at your own pace’ and after a six-year long break, Azzedine Alaïa‘s couture collection was like the sweetest, priciest dessert in the menu of a gourmet chef. Naomi Campbell, Alaïa’s ultimate muse, opened and closed the show wearing a delightful fur coat and incredibly pleated velvet gown respectively. The models were transformed into modern-day Nefertiti queens, thank to Julien d’Ys magical coiffeur skills. Also, what got everyone talking wasn’t a far-fetched venue or another celebrity in the f-row – most of all, the focus was on the garments. From a python coat in red and a hand-crafted leather maxi-skirt to floral motifs on a jacket and high-boots covered in leopard print, Azzedine’s rare fashion universe is as exquisite as it was when he started out few decades ago. Marvellous!

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Celestial. Valentino AW17 Couture

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Whenever a priest wearing a soutane crosses the street, you can’t help but look at the way his garment flows and shapes in motion. Pierpaolo Piccioli, the creative director of Valentino, had a vision for his couture collection: to grasp the sense of holiness and striking simplicity behind canonical robes he observes everyday on the streets of Rome, and convey it in the most haute way. Floor-sweeping capes had a ceremonial aura about them, just like sharply cut coats. If you think ‘Vatican’, you think ‘ornamental’ – Piccioli’s take on sacred is a lot more modern, but equally celestial.

Valentino’s collection might be the couture season’s most intriguing line-up, and if you’re still not convinced, note the one-of-a-kind metal bags with enamel mosaic details made by Harumi Klossowska De Rola especially for this occasion. Each of the bags’ shape reassembles an animal’s head – put together, they symbolize the seven deadly sins. How ironic, thinking about the sources of fortunes of some of Valentino’s richest clients…

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

A Russian Tale. Ulyana Sergeenko AW17

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A beautiful, Russian tale was told at Ulyana Sergeenko‘s autumn-winter 2017 haute couture show. The brand is known for its ultra-focus on traditional, slowly dying craftsmanship coming straight from Russia – take the Yelets and Vologda lace techniques, which make Sergeenko’s lady-like dresses look truly one-of-a-kind. The collection orbited around two themes. One was especially intimate for the designer herself –  it was a photo of Ulyana Sergeenko’s grandmother taken 64 years ago in eastern Kazakhstan, wearing a black dress with white-collar. Ulyana dedicated the collection to her beloved grandmothers – Sonya, Nina and Zina – making her lucky clients feel the love embedded in these intricate embroideries. The other, darker side of this collection was inspired by Old Holywood’s elegance and Soviet crime stories feauturing spies and gangsters – the all-black looks had something sexy badass about them (for a reason). Fancy, very femme fatale fur coats are here, too.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki (backdrop: a still from Renata Litvinova’s ‘Rita’s Last Fairy-Tale’).

Single-Minded. Dior AW17 Couture

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Looking at Maria Grazia Chiuri‘s time-line at Dior, which started about a year ago, one thing’s sure – she doesn’t care about the critics and suggestions of others. She likes going one clear, single-minded direction per season, making her overall work feel like a set of trends, rather than a consistent story told by an experienced designer. Let’s go navy this season, let’s do ‘feminism’ this time, oh, maybe let’s do a Western theme!

So, what’s on the table this couture season? Fifty shades of grey, literally (expect three, four looks kept in multi-coloured patchwork). Heavy masculine coats, fedora hats, dusty ball-gowns for cosmopolitan ladies of early 20th century – you would expect something more radiant for a brand’s 70th anniversary. “Honestly, it’s completely different to see the real archive and the image that some people have about Christian Dior. There’s so much daywear.” Thought it’s a haute couture show, where you don’t give a damn about something like ‘daywear’ and instead go for imagination. Talking of Dior, the man – the  bar jacket is here. With this exhausted piece, Chiuri checks the box every season, saying that she finds a connection with the brand’s founder. But Maria Grazia should focus on making Dior feel contemporary, even for a billionaire’s wifes who will buy it later in the atelier. Or, I guess, this sells well, if she’s still at the maison

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki (backdrop: Gordon Parks’ photo).