Best shows from Paris Couture Fashion Week SS18: Schiaparelli, Iris van Herpen and Giambattista Valli
Reporting from the couture runway in Paris, our contributing fashion writer Brent Taalur Ramsey faced rain-drenched streets and umbrella-wielding Parisians as dark clouds descended upon the City of Lights yesterday. Thankfully, the couturiers were equal to the fight, with a few even presenting nature-inspired collections. From Schiaparelli's fantastical jungle influences to Giambattista Valli's stroll through an English garden, here are the best shows from day one.
SCHIAPARELLI: DREAMS OF AFRICA
Designer: Bertrand Guyon
From the archives: At the first show of the day, Schiaparelli's design director Bertrand Guyon launched us into a new season of shows with a celebration of the late couturier's 1938 Pagan Collection. Best remembered for its Surrealist beetle motifs and gold leaf embroidery, this archival collection inspired a modern runway filled with springtime apparitions of European mystics and undeniably elegant African nuances.
The rundown: From enchanting jungle embroideries to embellished safari jackets, this series of Schiaparelli interpretations explored new depths of the iconic fashion house — and it's increasingly current themes. With the majority of his collection speaking to the blending of European and African cultures, Guyon sent out a beautifully diverse cast of models onto a runway that transformed yesterday's gloomy weather into an ethereal jungle in modern-day Paris.
Favourite looks: Whenever a fashion house of this creative magnitude starts to have more fun with textiles, we're bound to find ourselves with a hoard of new obsessions. For example: The elegant, oversized jacket in wool tapestry, cinched with a pelt belt and pouch, paired with a hand-pleated eggplant organza dress (look 14); the breath-taking dress made with woven silk and banana tree fibre and embroidered with multi-coloured raffia (look 17); or the pale jade tulle dress embroidered with the quintessential fantasy jungle scene (look 30). Take your pick.
IRIS VAN HERPEN: A BIRD'S EYE VIEW
Designer: Iris van Herpen
About the set: For her latest couture outing, Iris van Herpen collaborated with the Dutch artist Peter Gentenaar (known for capturing "organic memory" and motion in large-scale cellulose sculptures) for a series of cacoon-like installations that hovered over the runway inside Galerie de Minéralogie et de Géologie.
The rundown: When preparing this season's collection, entitled "Ludi Naturae," Iris van Herpen started by studying the intricate aerial photography by Thierry Bornier and Andy Yeung, among others, for a bird's eye view of our world — including the natural and the manmade. From there, she created a line-up that fused the artificial with the organic, and introduced her show guests to a breath-taking showdown of how wearable her garments can actually be, while still showing off her technical prowess.
Favourite looks: Out of this 21-look collection, it's shocking how this boundary-pushing innovator managed to introduce three different — and equally mind-blowing — techniques: The "Foliage" series, made up of 3D-printed leaf-like patterns as thin as 0.8 mm applied onto tulle (looks 1, 18-20); the "Data Dust", which distorted foam-lifted parametric patterns then laser-cut and heat-bonded onto silk tulle (looks 11, 13-15); and "Entropy," which bonded nude leather and liquid fabrics to mylar, before being laser-perforated and interwoven in gradients (look 4, 7-10). Yes, it sounds like a lot of science, but not all the technology we get behind can we also get within.
GIAMBATTISTA VALLI: BRINGING OUT THE LIGHT
Designer: Giambattista Valli
The rundown: From personal observations, the beauty of most English gardens come from the way they maintain the madness of wilderness; and it seems that, with his most recent show at Paris Couture Week, Giambattista Valli mastered this concept well. Like yesterday's weather in Paris, Valli's show started with dark, gloomy dresses (often styled with vinyl boots), before transitioning into bright dresses and contrasting evening gowns, each of them perfect for that last minute reveal of the sun.
Favourite looks: After a brief sequence of black-and-white looks, Valli delivered a collection filled with a careful explosion of colour, from bright floral contrasts (look 18) to an all-over lime green confection of effortless elegance made from 350 meters worth of neatly pleated tulle (look 51). This season, each look stands as evidence to this designer's unparalleled commitment to bringing lightness into couture craftsmanship.
On the front row: Anytime one of Giambattista Valli's creations is set to hit the catwalk, you can expect to see a wide range of celebrities and influencers — and, more than likely, a few members of royalty. This season, Princess Alexandra of Hanover joined Miroslava Duma and Balmain's creative director Olivier Rousteing in celebration of a new season of couture.
All coverage from Paris Couture Fashion Week spring/summer 2018.