Best shows from Paris Couture Fashion Week FW17: Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Guo Pei, A.F. Vandevorst

Best shows from Paris Couture Fashion Week FW17: Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Guo Pei, A.F. Vandevorst

Day 1

Text: Brent Taalur Ramsey

Proenza Schouler and Rodarte bring savvy American chic to Paris; Guo Pei reminisces on the golden age of haute couture; A.F. Vandevorst makes its couture week debut in true, unconventional form

Welcome to the first full day at haute couture week. It's Sunday in Paris, and our fashion correspondent Brent Taalur Ramsey is already busy gallivanting around the City of Light, from Proenza Schouler's Parisian debut to Guo Pei's celebration of Old Hollywood. Tune in daily as he recaps the best shows from Paris couture week.

Designers: Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez

The collection: Breaking the couture schedule with a combined resort-slash-spring show, the design duo from across the ocean sought to create a collection around "a commitment to beauty, optimism and a celebration of French craft," according to their show notes. That inspiration later entailed a more commercial spin to what we're typically accustomed to seeing on the couture catwalk, but also called for a clever montage of artisanal creations mixed with their signature balance between creativity and wearability. Everything we love about the brand was there — the asymmetry, the corsetry, the artful layering, the ruffles — in a dressed-up yet relaxed series of seriously chic looks. Think: Body-con ribbed knits with leather corset bras for a bit of extra edge, or simple lace dresses with ruffles cascading down the front; and for eveningwear, dense layers of ruffles for a strong, lasting impression. For sure, "savvy chic" was all that was on mind.

Favourite looks: Though Proenza Schouler's clean shapes and soft ruffles seen earlier in the collection were strong options, the abstract floral cut-outs that appeared later kept our attention well beyond the final walk (looks 36, 38, 40). The way these garments float across the models' bodies makes it seem as if they were moulded onto each woman mere moments before the show started. 

Designers: Filip Arickx and An Vandevorst

The collection: For their first ever couture show, the Belgian husband-and-wife duo Filip Arickx and An Vandevorst decided to take an unconventional approach to their fall 2017 collection. In lieu of luxury fabrics and embellishments, they opted for pedestrian materials, focusing on handcraftsmanship. And from the very beginning, it was total couture-level quality: Plastic bags were transformed into a bustier gown, latex into bodysuits, and jackets into quasi head coverings. Eventually, they beefed up their debut effort with an eccentric array of floor-grazing tiered skirts, rhinestone-encrusted sleeves and tapestry patterns; this was A.F. Vandevorst's usual play on the formal-informal at its best.

Favourite looks: With a collection like this, there are bound to be several favourite looks, but the tiered skirts (looks 26, 27) and the tapestry patterns (looks 10, 31, 32) stood out as instant hits. Agree?

Designers: Kate Mulleavy and Laura Mulleavy

The collection: The second American duo to make their Parisian debut on day one of couture week, sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy. They appeared true to form with a spring collection chock full of their special brand of twisted glamour. Models, with locks draped with baby's breath, walked out as dream-like spectres of Mother Nature in tulle and lace — mostly sheer. Rodarte's good girl dabbled in her wild side, apostrophizing the ethereal floral, flouncy hems, and petite dots with a good dose of edgy energy. Cue leather biker jackets, densely ruffled bustier and distinct bows in punk remix. The result was an artistic and intellectual milestone collection for a brand making their way into the European circuit.

Favourite looks: Without a doubt the sheer frock, both polka-dotted with cascading ruffles (look 18) and floral embroidered, personifying the Rodarte goddess within (looks 42 to 47).

Designer: Guo Pei

The collection: Teaming up with Chopard's Caroline Scheufele, Guo Pei delivered daydreams, masquerading as dresses chaperoned by their own fantasy-inducing jewels. This collection, with many an homage to the golden age of haute couture, explored the most classic of silhouettes — from ornate bustiers to voluminous gowns. Of course, no Guo Pei show would be complete without major wow factor, so the Chinese couturier did away with gravity. See looks 20 and 29 for the supersized shapes, seemingly suspended by invisible thread. Her Chinese roots, decoded in the red lanterns spotted peeking out of the sleeves of look 38, were juxtaposed with cinematic Old Hollywood rigmarole by way of hand fringing, heavy sequins, and gold leaves in sweeping pageantry silhouettes. How Guo Pei pulled this off within 30 days, when her equally robust previous couture effort took two years, is a mystery — and a damningly beautiful one at that.

Favourite look: Few couturiers get high-octane drama like Guo Pei, a muscle she is adept at flexing. Look 25's seafoam green and its aggrandized peekaboo shoulder is prime example.

All coverage from Paris Couture Fashion Week fall/winter 2017