Best shows from Paris Couture Fashion Week FW17: Chanel, Stéphane Rolland, Ulyana Sergeenko, Armani Privé
You never quite know what to expect during haute couture week in Paris. Proving that statement accurate in many folds in this fall/winter season is Chanel, Stéphane Rolland, Ulyana Sergeenko and Armani's Privé — the best shows from day three. Don't forget to tune in tomorrow for our fashion correspondent Brent Taalur Ramsey's final recap of the season.
CHANEL: PARIS, JE T'AIME
Designer: Karl Lagerfeld
The venue: Shortly after 10 o'clock this morning, the first looks hit the runway under a gargantuan, reconstructed Eiffel Tower — today dubbed the "Chanel Tower" — that reached high into the dry-ice clouds forming inside the Grand Palais. It's a Karl tradition at this point. With every season, the Kaiser attempts to outdo his previous show set; at this, he excels in spades. Over the years, there's been the Chanel supermarket, the recreated ateliers of Rue Cambon, the Chanel space shuttle and last spring's sparkling hall of mirrors. This time around, however, the set made a statement transcending its architectural feat. Because, like the Eiffel Tower, Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld are two landmarks the City of Light would be lesser without. Memo received.
The collection: When it comes to French fashion houses, Chanel is as Parisian as you can get, and this is celebrated with a finely crafted couture showcase of everything its atelier have to offer. Feather embellishments, impeccable embroideries, fine pleating and beyond, the fall/winter couture was an explosion of tweed coats, arced shoulders and beautiful bell shapes — classic Chanel in full glory.
Favourite look: Where to begin? If I had to choose only one, my heart would settle on look 40; its lattice beading, feather blossoms and silhouette reminds me of a young Coco.
STÉPHANE ROLLAND: DIAL D FOR DIVA
Designer: Stéphane Rolland
The collection: This is an exciting time for couturier Stéphane Rolland. Delivering his 10th anniversary comeback show, Rolland took to the stage of the amphitheatre at the Opera Bastille with a runway presentation filled with sculptural (and often gravity-defying) shapes. It's been weeks since Celine Dion performed "My Heart Will Go On" at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards wearing one of his voluptuous creations, but we can't help but picture the songstress in every other look Rolland sent out, particularly his signature corolla gowns, simple column dresses and orchid-like flourishes — all ideal for a diva of her standing.
Favourite looks: While you can't deny that French mezzo-soprano Béatrice Uria-Monzon, who performed at the show looked spectacular in an all-white minimalist gown (look 25), Rolland's commitment to gold accents was a playful labour complementary of nature's cycle in autumn (looks 4, 5, 18).
ULYANA SERGEENKO: VILLAINS & VAUDEVILLE
Designer: Ulyana Sergeenko
The collection: Russian couturier Ulyana Sergeenko set the stage for an American gangster showdown with his haute couture heist and boudoir burlesque. Complete with late-1940s inspired tailoring and styling that would earn a nod of appreciation from Al Capone, Sergeenko's underworld of elegance makes for a femme fatale collection bearing top-notch craftsmanship of tapered silhouettes. Adding to this effect is her lingerie-like lace topped with cheeky adornments (Spot the pistol brooch, bullet embroideries along hemlines and upside down rose minaudière) that got us whipping out our phones; yet, they never distracted from the core looks of the post-war glam collection.
Favourite looks: As a couture customer turned couture designer, Ulyana Sergeenko knows how to build a narrative around the garments she loves. As always, Sergeenko found something she's passionate about and ran with it. The fruits of which count the masculine suiting as my top pick (look 21). Also can't ignore the gangster-approved fur trims attached to collars and sleeves (looks 9,17, 22, 35).
ARMANI PRIVÉ: WINTER BLOOMS
Designer: Giorgio Armani
The collection: At 82, Giorgio Armani doesn't seem to be slowing down. In fact, quite the opposite rings true for the revered designer. He transported Milan to Paris for his fall/winter couture show, via a photo-reconstruction of the Palazzo Orsini (the site of his atelier), panelling the walls inside Théâtre National de Chaillot with images of the palazzo. It was an intimate setting for a collection that suggested youth to the otherwise "grande dame" aesthetics of the Privé line. Initially, there was a struggle to look beyond the zany hats, but once you do, you'll meet a younger, more modern Armani woman walking down the runway than in seasons past. Overall, his signature tailoring and a clever manipulation of fabrics was aplenty, all finished with an artful flair for the bold floral motifs editors couldn't be more obsessed with.
Favourite looks: There were several candidates, particularly within the floral trope; whether it's the more daring renditions (looks 7, 11, 14, 21, 43) or conservative counterparts (looks 9, 10, 25, 61, 62), these flowery interpretations added a much-needed dynamic to a host of almost exclusively evening options.
All coverage from Paris Couture Fashion Week fall/winter 2017.