Wearability in couture was a somewhat alien concept, since the art of couture was about birthing new ideas and techniques that could not be duplicated easily. John Galliano was a master at that. But couture in general, since Raf Simons’ stint at Christian Dior, has become more ‘wearable’.
Don’t get me wrong, the workmanship, detailing, and fabric choices are still top notch, but the general feel of the clothes are approachable, relatable, and realistic. Is that a good or bad thing?
The Fall/Winter 2016 couture season ended on Wednesday with a stellar show from the duo at Valentino, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli. It featured Elizabethan necklines, ruffles and spare tailoring.
At Giambattista Valli, drama (save for the trio of voluminous tulle gowns that closed the show) was restricted to sleeves, bodices and draping.
Mr Armani’s Privé show was strict but sensual. A combination that Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett, who was affixed in the front row, embodies.
In the confluence of what looked like re-purposed bits and pieces, artisanal ingenuity and experimental construction, this collection felt like the best marriage yet of Margiela and Galliano.
Gaultier’s woodland fantasy nymphs looked liked they came from a Tim Burton production of “into the woods”.
Donatella Versace’s girls were sensually sexy: a dishabille approach to draping lent her glamorous warriors a softer feel.
Viktor & Rolf went green. Their clothes were made from scraps of fabric from past collections, woven and stitched together to create a masterful cacophony of wearable art.
Master Karl Lagerfeld recreated the Chanel atelier at his show venue, presenting a collection that praised the women who are the actual heroes of couture.
Stèphane Rolland stuck to his architectural niche of couture, which he keeps reinventing season after season.
Alexandre Vauthier brought a healthy dose of sexy urbanity to couture, almost like a Versace-Vaccarello hybrid.
Chinese couturier Guo Pei, made popular by Rihanna at last year’s Met ball, offered a collection rich in an oriental flavour.
Ronald van der Kemp brought in street wear to couture.
Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci chose simple silhouettes to highlight the workmanship of couture.
For probably the first time ever, Elie Saab was inspired by New York and delivered his darkest and most glamorous collection to date.
Inspired by cymatics, her clothes were weightless but detailed confections of the Sci-fi variety.
Bertrand Guyon delivered a controlled version of Schiaparelli’s popular summer 1938 circus collection.
Still holding up the Christian Dior forte, design duo Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux sent out the most relaxed Dior couture collection to date. Flat sandals were worn with everything.
Giles Deacon basically showed British couture. You could picture his woman sipping tea on her terrace behind her English country estate.
Alexis Mabille’s collection was a controlled form of exuberance. Striking a balance between the voluminous and the streamlined.
And finally, Gilles Mendel of J.mendel debuted a deceptive array of expensive clothes: heavily embellished columns, masterful drapery, and mink-embroidered jackets.
The connective thread between the collections is that the couturiers stopped offering what they think women should wear and actually listened to what the women suggested they want to wear.
That decision of choosing to dispose off what is superfluous, and champion what is necessary, is what will keep couture’s survival alive. And that doesn’t seem like a bad thing.