Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week A/W 2014
Paris is the city of art, culture and above all – fashion and what better way to celebrate this than with the iconic Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. From the 6th – 11th of July models and celebrities bombarded Paris as the Autumn/Winter 2014 Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week ran in the decadent City of Light. It’s difficult to believe that fashion can get much higher than in Paris (or indeed, that of London, Milan and New York) regular fashion weeks, yet ‘Haute Couture’ essentially means ‘high fashion’ or ‘high dress-making’. And Haute Couture is a different beast altogether. It displays handcrafted clothes and customised fashion designs that are absolutely to die for and because of the expertise on display, evening gowns debuting at Paris Haute Couture can sell for £50,000 and beyond. As Bruno Pavolvsky, President of Fashion at Chanel, said, these clothes are sold to only ‘the happy few, about 1,000 customers in the world.’ So, yes, pretty exclusive then.
On the Runway
With Paris as their setting there was no better place for Dior to take inspiration from. Simons of Dior put on the most majestic show with beautiful designs clearly influenced by old aristocracy and 18th century France. Opening with pioneer-style silhouettes, Dior’s show was particularly reminiscent of the Renaissance era. For his set, Simons had erected a cylindrical pavilion in the Musée Rodin and it’s fair to say that every member of the audience, front row and all, were taken aback by the use of the magical snow globe. Dior may be the god of gold but this year but white definitely triumph at this show. The walls were of a pure snow-white and decked with orchids. Emblazoned onto the show with its 18th century court dress were slick jumpsuits and flashes of bright flares underneath body-hugging charcoal coats. Did we mention that it was majestic?
Yet white was not the colour of choice for all as red seemed to be the most popular option on the runway. Ralph and Russo displayed bold red lips whilst Armani was referred to as the ‘champion of red’ by Lisa Armstrong. Once upon a time the Italian designer controlled his models’ hair and makeup but this year he had Phillip Treacy headwear in the mix – a dramatic yet flawless collaboration.
No one can forgot the storm Lagerfeld created with his chic, yet bizarre ‘supermarché’ in January. Yet Lagerfeld’s Haute Couture Chanel show treated onlookers to a more muted affair at his minimalist runway in the Grand Palais. A pre-show glimpse of Chanel’s collaboration showed feather and flip-flops which were teamed with baroque-inspired dresses with a modern twist and without a shopping trolley in sight. In true Haute Couture style (the more elaborate the better) many of these dresses were egg-shaped and made out of tweed, the collars often mimicking the beautifully coiffed quiffs that sprung from foreheads. They may have had Kendall Jenner as their leading lady but I can’t say this is a trend we’ll be following this summer.
Kendall Jenner was not the only groundbreaking accessory as Giambattista Valli’s floral prom dresses were paired with white washer women’s headscarves. The majority of his voluminous garments were pastel coloured so the headscarf added a great 50s edge which was also seen throughout the Alexis Mabille show.
As expected, the front rows of both shows were peppered with A-list stars, from Emma Watson in Dior heels that blurred the lines between artwork and fashion (for a while now a regular for obvious reasons – I still dream about that Dior Trouser/ dress ensemble). To Kim Kardashian in Valentino (which caused more than a few raised eyebrows). Parisienne chic was seen at it’s finest with Oscar-winning actress Marion Coutillard, and Jared Leto was also there… wearing women’s trousers. But even overshadowing Jared Leto’s somewhat eye-catching outfit and attracting the most attention, which we can’t imagine Kim was too happy about, was newly-wedded Olivia Palermo. With her husband in tow Palermo looked stunning draped in a printed blouse and black and cream vest at the Dior show (would we expect no less from her). The blouse was not thought to be one of the £10, 000 ones on show but instead more in the vein of the pure silk ones offered at Peter Hahn.
As much as for Dior, Chanel and the pageantry of the French Court, the crowds gathered were there to see the stars. For the bustling tourists and back-row audience members, it was not cake they were offered, but instead the sparkling lights of glamorous lives and sightings of celebrities. As Alexander Fury in The Independent writes, they were there for ‘cheap thrills rather than expensive frills.’ For those of us who missed out on the thrills, thankfully there are lot of frills for us to belatedly pour over until the next Haute Couture week.