Schiaparelli Haute Couture
A lot has gone on over the past year in Schiaparelli- hot on the heels of the last couture show, head designer Marco Zanini was let go from the revival brand, leaving the conception and production of the Spring 2015 show to the skills of an in- house team. It’s easy to discount the work of a committee- produced collection since clear-cut ideas and themes often get lost amongst contrasting points of view, but this season’s collection was a happy surprise! The clothes themselves couldn’t match the firecracker sensibilities of Mr. Zanini, but they were impressive in their madcap exuberance and vividly hyper impact.
The team retained some of the designer’s spirited ideas in terms of silhouette, colours and prints, but they adjusted and refined the excess to achieve a sort of Schiaparelli -esque surrealism. Hence fabrics printed with bright technicolour pins, bejeweled lady’s hands, Cupid’s bows and hearts, fluorescent zig-zag lines and harlequin checks. There was a lot going on on the runway too: loose tuxedo suits appeared in the same sequence as hot pants and patterned khaftans, draped trousers, slouchy jumpsuits, camisole tops, draped blouses, headscarves, embellished leather jacket dresses and floor-length gowns.
Zany as it sounds, the whole the collection reminds me of a romanticized 1920’s version of the Arab world on ecstacy: the colours were bright, the embellishment fabulous, and there was a certain Middle- Eastern flair to everything sent down the runway- a notion that occurred even before I spotted a jaunty blue velvet fez.
The imagery stays in my head and I’m glad for that, since the wilder the thoughts provoked, the more in keeping the collection is with Schiaparelli’s madcap aesthetic.
That said, it’s a very wearable offering. Spring 2015 is the most ‘mainstream’ of any of the House’s recent collections and it’s one that’s attractive to both the couture crowd and commercial consumers. Spring 2015’s offering didn’t feel like a filler collection meant to tide us over until a new creative director settles in, it felt like more of a template for modernizing the Schiaparelli legend.
Valentino Haute Couture
The House of Valentino’s head designers, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were definitely in a flirty mood when they started designing the Spring 2015 Couture collection. With the romantic figures of Shakespeare, Dante and Marc Chagall being central to their design, this was a collection rife with amorous ques.
They particularly turned to Marc Chagall and his Russian heritage to influence the central motifs of this season’s work. Spring 2015 is full of patterns and embellishments reminiscent of traditional Eastern European handiwork: leather flowers appeared appliquéd over rough linen, hand embroidered needlepoint and decorative smocking were seen all over dresses and separates, gowns were ornamented by glimmering beads and paillettes or dripped panels of frothy lace.
Exquisite as it all was, these pieces were somewhat lacking in comparison to the glamorous workmanship of Signor Garavani. They missed the master’s deft touch when it came to manipulating these visual elements to full effect and in the resulting product bordered too heavily into the costume realm.
The real highlights of the collection are a variety of sheer evening gowns straight out of Verona’s Renissance that were shown towards the show’s end. These pieces were everything you could hope for from a Valentino Couture gown; regal and sophisticated, sensuous, luxurious and allll grown-up. Other high points were found in a selection of silk gowns with skimmed the model’s bodies, all embellished with graphic patterns of metallic stars, rainbows, clouds and geometric shapes. My particular favourite is a gown with a molten gold bodice and full skirt stitched with a line from Dante’s Inferno in metallic thread. SO DAMN FAB!
On the whole it’s a good- if somewhat discordant collection. Spring 2015 is beautiful as always, but the runway lineup could have benefited from some editing in lineup and details. That combined with a lot less kitsch would have resulted in a truly spectacular show.
Alexis Mabille Haute Couture
The works of poet Alfred Samain struck an inspirational chord with designer Alexis Mabille, who was particularly transfixed by a 1893 work starting with the words, “There are strange evenings when flowers have a soul.” Monsieur Mabille strove to achieve that idea of flowers having souls with his Spring 2015 collection by uniting the female and floral forms into one vision.
Considering the number of times this theme has been previously tried, this was definitely a tricky undertaking… and this collection is by no means one of the successful attempts. The collection could be condensed into one look: dramatic form- fitting gowns trimmed with excessive planes of flounced fabric and contoured draping in bold solid colours. Some departures featured lace bodices and feathered trims, some bore sequins, others were accented by outsized floral appliqués and some looks featured plunging necklines and trailing kimono sleeves. There were stiff tulip- shaped capes to be seen as well, along with a few draped evening jackets and even the odd jumpsuit or two.
It was too much. The decadence of the show read more as overkill than lavish, making another another case where the main theme got lost in the designer’s obsession with overworking his designs. The most impactful pieces looked awkward and poorly executed, while the most minimalist ones lacked a certain level of taste. The best moments came when Monsieur Mabille struck a middle chord in his simpler evening looks: a sequence of draped mermaid gowns in sequined fabric and heavy silk were effortlessly glamorous- even versions with trailing capes and cascading shoulders. These are perfect red carpet fare and they’d look fabulous on almost anyone. Everything else however…
Monsieur Mabille is a lover of excess, and as in previous showings, Spring 2015 would have greatly benefited from the input of an editor. Plainly put the show wasn’t great, but future incarnations could be salvaged if the designer finally manages to focus on his strengths and trim the fat from his designs. I look forward to that day since the he surely has the makings of a great couturier if only he’d learn to tone it all down!
Please sir, hold back a little!