As old adages go, slow and steady does seem to win the race. It’s a bit of a contradicting statement the pace fashion has been going, raring at maximum speed. And ‘fashion weeks’ no less, days turning into weeks, into months of 24/7 parties, presentations and shows. It’s been a taxing few years of changes raising questions about what works, what doesn’t, what should go and what should stay.
Congregating on the what’s left of the famed cobblestone streets that once lined the Champs-Élysées, notable American and European houses gathered again for another round of their show-off, fated to cross paths once more in 2 months time. Couture week albeit a small slice in the market is still a significant chunk of the pie, last estimated in 2016 at €650 million of the industry. Although tagged with a high price tag and seemingly unwearable every day pieces, for designers it’s a perfect exercise in design.
Awarded the official status of Haute Couture in the beginning of this year, the house of Schiaparelli’s has recovered its iconic label it held dear before shutting down its doors in 1954. Its long awaited revival has been met with abated breath. And in recovering its couture status, creative director Bertrand Guyon carried through Schiaparelli’s surrealist legacy.
2017 is a big year for comebacks. In following Schiaparelli, Azzedine Alaïa made his return after disbanding from the couturier circle six years ago. Exiting in 2011 due to scheduling struggles, his comeback collection reflected authenticity, an often-overlooked ingredient in the hodgepodge of fashion week crossovers. It’s a widely known fact that Alaïa does what Alaïa wants.
It was a lesson that many designers took to heart with couture week reviving fashion’s true nature. Absent were overarching trends weaving intermittently throughout the collections – it was large doll heads on top of puffer couture pieces à la Viktor and Rolf style; a flower show blossoming vividly on Fendi models Monet would have been illustrious to; Galliano’s distorted and shredded vision fused upon organza and cardboard with a touch of glamourous gold; and lastly, Iris Van Herpen’s famed illusions – flowing filaments from pleated organza interspersed with waved silver lace, a study in sci-fi and the ethereal.
Haute Couture members entered the ring like champs, flexing their individual expertise. However, Schiaparelli and Alaïa, the two fashion juggernauts stole the show at this season’s couture week, an individual approach to coming back in fashion surely does seem to beat the see-now-buy-now movements. Perhaps fashion isn’t so doomed after all.