Best shows from Paris Couture Fashion Week FW17: Schiaparelli, Christian Dior, Ralph & Russo
It's Monday, the second day of haute couture week in Paris, and the day we finally get a glimpse at Maria Grazia Chiuri's second couture collection for Christian Dior. But first, Schiaparelli, at the legendary designer's Place Vendôme apartment then later, Ralph & Russo's star-studded runway show at the Grand Palais. Don't forget to tune in daily as our fashion correspondent Brent Taalur Ramsey continues to recap the best shows from Paris Couture Week.
SCHIAPARELLI: FUTURE COUTURE
Designer: Bertrand Guyon
The inspiration: Now entering his third year at the house, creative director Bertrand Guyon approached this season quite differently than how he has in the past. Instead of browsing through archives for inspiration, he focused on celebrating the women in Elsa Schiaparelli's life. The influential figures — such as Leonora Carrington, Lee Miller, Nancy Cunard, and Marie-Laure de Noailles — were ahead of their time. They lived modern lives, rebelled against conservatism, pushed social boundaries and inspired others within their group, together forming their own feminine society, not unlike the strong women of today.
The collection: Spot the iconic founder's signature motifs — subtle padlock detailing and vibrant sunbursts, as well as her keen tendency for surrealism — presented along heavy-duty yet delicate confections. The fan-pleated skirts, crystal embroidery and even a pair of white leather overalls (look 6) garnered double takes. Each of these looks took us further away from the heavily archive-inspired, imitation-heavy collections of the past and more toward reinforcing the foundation of the modern Schiaparelli universe.
Favourite looks: This season's surrealist jackets (looks 12 and 15) were true-to-quirky-form Elsa, complete with Picasso-esque faces and abstract puzzle pieces, but it's the crimped tulle and fan-pleated skirts and dresses that are all the rage.
CHRISTIAN DIOR: THE TIME TRAVELLER
Designer: Maria Grazia Chiuri
The collection: Still in her freshman year as Dior's first female creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri took note of the musings by the late, iconic founder. He said in his 1956 autobiography, "A complete collection should address all types of women in all countries" — a philosophy that resonates to this day. Transcending culture and geography is the lust in the wander, so Chiuri's travel-themed collection obliterates borders. Her second and latest couture outing at Dior, chock full of voyager essentials plucked straight from the late '40s and early '50s, echoed the maison's New Look. Though heavy in elevated pedestrian nuances (if all life's passers-by got super haute, that is) through the grounding fabrics applied to clandestine wraparound outerwear, Chiuri didn't forego a more archetypal couture presentation at the finale, ushering panelled plisse, drop-waist silks and even a touch-and-go experimentation with trompe-l'œil, the rugged and the romantic cinched together with slim croc leather belts. Pun intended.
Favourite looks: Chiuri's belted moments of timeless sophistication, including the velvet bustier gowns (looks 51 and 53), the patchwork coat worn over a feathered frock (look 28) and pretty much all the enigmatic coats (looks 16, 17, 20, 41, 52).
RALPH & RUSSO: THE PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN
Designers: Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo
The collection: Inspired by the works of the grand masters of photography, Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton and Norman Parkinson, Ralph & Russo's fall/winter collection attempted (and succeeded) at capturing the portrait of a woman; not with paint or camera, but with the light and animation of their crystal embroideries, their devoré white feathers, as well as this season's iridescent colour palette of mint, lavender, aqua blue and rose gold. It's not clear who this woman is, but the young A-listers causing the flashing frenzy on the FROW (we spotted Zendaya and Michelle Rodriguez) are clues. Either of these leading ladies would look lovely in this season's ruffled layers, ribbons of metallic chainmail or the ever-elegant floor-sweeping trains.
Favourite looks: Zendaya would head best-dressed lists in the rose-gold metallic lace cocktail dress with foil fringes. Look 13 is Joan of Arc meets modern fairy-tale princess, making it a flawless, hands-down favourite of mine.
All coverage from Paris Couture Fashion Week fall/winter 2017.