The Look – Chanel SS20 Couture

In times like this, quarantine and all, I gravitate towards something beautiful, yet profound and calm. Virginie Viard‘s phenomenal spring-summer 2020 haute couture collection for Chanel – inspired by the convent of Aubazine, where Coco Chanel was raised – is an example. For this (another) laid-back Friday evening, I highly recommend you the A to Z video by Loic Prigent which is dedicated to this impressive collection.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Look(s) – Vera Wang SS19 Bridal

I really don’t care for bridal-wear. Except for Vera Wang‘s. Vera doesn’t play by anyone’s rules. In the world of wedding dresses, white of course predominates. The New York-based designer, however, indulged in vibrant, sumptuous colours for spring-summer 2019. “I wanted to explore translucency and movement, and obviously color, but in a new way,” she explained back then, “in order to ignore certain ‘bridal’ dictums, like white, beading, acres of lace, and traditional ball skirts.” Drawing inspiration from the canvases of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, she delivered tulle-heavy romanticism with a touch of edge.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Look(s) – Valentino AW18 Couture

What if Henri Matisse met Valentino‘s Pierpaolo Piccioli? The designer’s joyful autumn-winter 2018 couture collection, with some prints and embroideries inspired by the French painter’s work, was all about the fantastically bold colour palette that Henri would definitely applaud. And clothes that make you dream!

Collages by Edward Kanarecki.

The Choice – Valentino AW18 Couture

A few days ago I asked you on my Instagram stories to pick one of your favourite collections ever and I would make a collage with it. Here’s @kozlic_’s choice: the holy Valentino autumn-winter 2018 haute couture by Pierpaolo Piccioli. “With ready-to-wear, your vision of beauty relates to the times you are living in,” Piccioli stated back then after his magnificent show. Then, he concluded: “couture involves a deeper and more intimate perspective, to go further into your own vision of beauty.” Take a look back at this collection right here.

If you missed the game, you can still write me your favourite collection and I will do the work. Got plenty of time. Culture isn’t cancelled, fashion isn’t cancelled!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Grand Finale. Jean Paul Gaultier Couture SS20

Euphoric. Bold. Joyous. Fantastic. Pushing boundaries. Forever iconic. That’s Jean Paul Gaultier. Many of the conversations we are having today – about such issues as diversity, gender fluidity, recycling, and sustainability – are built into the Gaultier DNA, and reused by other designer subconsciously. Since his first show in 1976, he has shown pan-generational models of all sizes, genders, and ethnicities on his runway, because they reflected the real-life people on the streets who inspired his style. Rossy De Palma, Blond Ambition Tour cone bras, Dita Von Teese, leather, trompe l’oeil, Beatrice Dalle, France, queer, sailors, sex, body… COUTURE! Although it’s Gaultier’s last fashion show ever, it’s not the end of his career. Can’t wait to see what he’s up to next!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Shades of Elegance. Valentino Couture SS20

From all the couture shows this season, I (of course) anticipated Pierpaolo Piccioli‘s line-up for Valentino the most. For spring-summer 2020, a very different facet of Piccioli’s imagination transpired. The designer challenged himself to stop the operatic volumes and begin his search for a new silhouette. This time, it was structured, linear, fishtailed, modular, yet still drenched in color and pattern by turns. Looking back at the previous, ecstatic collections he dreamed up for us, he decided it was time to step off the path. “I hate it when people talk about ‘storytelling.’ I am not a storyteller. I don’t have the feeling that Cristóbal Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Charles James, Mainbocher, whatever—I don’t feel they had stories of the season.” Trusting himself to free-association meant exploring form and emotion in ways that emphasized choice, variety, and the ingenious devices that only the Valentino craftspeople are able to realize. There were more trousers, more columns than before; an interest in constructing layers in ways which only the wearer will know about. Bubbles, bows and plenty of Valentino red recurred. There was a gorgeous color palette – purple, eau de nil, scarlet, pink, mint… and black (this one looked super refined in the eveningwear section). As usual, the best.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

A Lesson In Parisian Style. Bouchra Jarrar Couture SS20

So happy to see Bouchra Jarrar back at work on her name-sake label. After her traumatic time at Lanvin, one would wonder if she ever comes back to the industry. She did this couture season, quietly, yet with confidence. “I wanted to do fashion that resembles me,” Bouchra said moments before her intimate show. Staged in her own apartment, with a slender sheaf of wheat leaning against the wall and raw quartz crystals displayed under a glass dome on a marble mantel, the presentation of Edition n°1 brought together a dozen or so of her very recognizable signatures, primarily influenced by menswear. A backless gilet was ticked out with feathers and pearls. Ample trousers were grounded by a merch-style T-shirt. Feather Maasai-inspired bracelets reprised her sports stripes. Other standout pieces included a very pretty fringed bias-cut tweed top; a sublime khaki overcoat with silver buttons; a flawless perfecto with ribbed shoulders. The presentation was a lesson in Parisian style: take a white shirt, impeccably cut black trousers, and eclectic accessories (like a fringed Berber-weave scarf) and suddenly you’ve gone from standard to elevated chic. Jarrar called those Berber weaves “ethnic with a perfume of couture.” A Paris-based couture artisan with whom Jarrar has collaborated everywhere she has worked makes each one after Jarrar picks the yarn and the dyes. She chose a russet hue, for example, in tribute to her Moroccan roots. “These are my colors. They remind me of how my grandparents wore their shawls. They carry all the warmth of my origins,” she said. The loyal, couture-buying client base of Jarrar will be more than pleased.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Haute Upcycling. Maison Margiela Couture SS20

Upcycling the heritage of the craft to make something for the present that is beautifully creative: John Galliano tackled the challenge of our times with his glorious Maison Margiela haute couture collection. For a designer who began his career with a graduation collection about the French Revolution in a time when young people in London were chopping up vintage clothes from markets, this was almost a reclamation of all of Galliano’s first principles, elevated and reenergized amid the 21st-century youth rebellion against waste and overconsumption. Most of the collection was made from materials that already exist: “memories” of bourgeois classics, recut, turned inside out, dissected, collaged, and punched through in a riot of color. Galliano spoke in a house podcast about how he and his studio team had sat and decided “there are too many clothes in the world.” He reflected on the rise of the bourgeoisie and capitalism after the 19th-century Industrial Revolution. Next thing his assistants were out scouring thrift shops for materials to work into the collection. Haute upcycling is not just possible; it can look refined, intriguing, incredible. For instance, bedsheets were repurposed as evening capes, a delicate elegance found in wisps of pink and apricot chiffon draped and taped in place as in a spontaneous Madame Grès–like moment. The attitude of a girl in an emerald 1950s ball gown veiled with a black tulle cape seemed to symbolize it all. Striding forward in an echo of an Old World couture pose, she held one arm elbow out, her yellow-gloved hand in a fist. Cut, mix, create, amaze.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Big Romance. Givenchy Couture SS20

Clare Waight Keller’s spring-summer 2020 haute couture collection for Givenchy was rooted in her memories of visiting the garden rooms planted at Sissinghurst Castle by Vita Sackville-West and by reading the passionate love letters between Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. “It’s one of the most romantic places in England,” Waight Keller said. “I’m quite obsessed by the place.” Famously it was Woolf’s involvement with Sackville-West and dreaming through the Elizabethan history of the Sackville-West family house that inspired Woolf to write her time- and gender-traversing novel Orlando. Coming back to the collection: Waight Keller once again proved her strengths in tailoring. But what truly stunned the audience were the summer-garden colors and swirling 3D-petal forms of dresses. For the designer, it was “my own love letter to Hubert de Givenchy because I went into the archive for this collection and looked into the history of the house from the very beginning.” Photographs of the pristine flower-lace gowns he made in the era he designed for Audrey Hepburn were pinned to her inspiration board. Givenchy, as it happens, was dedicated to garden design too. The outside edges of the jacket of a neat black pantsuit were implanted with a halo of gypsophila embroidery – this one looked incredible. There was a bit of “couture” casual: multilayered tulle petal-pink skirt overlaid with Chantilly lace was worn with a sheer black T-shirt. Waight Keller finished up her show by sending out Kaia Gerber as the ultimate fantasy bride in an off-the-shoulder cut-lace white chemise and umbrella hat that swooped back over the shoulders, amplifying the volume of the entire look.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.