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High fashion or increased unreality

January 26 2018

Dior high fashion spring-summer 2018. Photo: © Nhu Xuan Hua. Chanel haute couture spring-summer final 2018. Photo: Lucile Perron.

Amongst the 2018 spring-summer couture collections that have been on parade for four days in Paris since Monday's January 22, most fall under magical thinking. And if we could erase the state of the world and redraw it in more beautiful, lighter, more joyful, less cynical too? - Isabelle Cerboneschi.


We may not need the couturiers to tell us that the world is not very round, the information broadcast continuously enough, thank you. On the other hand they have the art to do it with subtlety. They do not just make observations: they launch collections "magical thoughts" that we really want to believe.

And if we could erase the state of the world and redesign everything more beautiful, more joyful, lighter, less cynical especially? The designers let the podium express impulses, desires, projections, hopes. They invoke the spirit of the Earth (Iris Van Herpen), the power of shaman women (Schiaparelli), manga heroines (Julien Fournié) or ancient goddesses (Georges Hobeika). They look at those times when everything seemed possible, even the impossible. It may not be with their collections that they will change the world, but nothing prevents us from taking their "desires for realities" *

Haute couture is only a reality for a few hundred women in the world. For the majority, on the other hand, it is a spectacle, a beautiful show in which the eye likes to wash away the affronts of everyday life. What does it matter if we can not afford this pleated dress of organza color marble and veiled tulle that paraded at Schiaparelli on Monday, because we do not have in her service the camera operator who could to take care. The "high" is a way of life.

Nature is at the heart of many reflections this season: her intelligence at Iris Van Herpen, her magic at Schiaparelli, her beauty at Chanel, who has made her collection run in a French garden decorated with fragrant roses. For his beautiful return in the official calendar, Christophe Josse imagined a monastic bucolism of another world. The materials offered by nature inspired Bertrand Guyon who added to the already difficult exercise of sewing, that of creating it with poor materials and impossible to work like raffia, to which he added nylon and plastic bags, all ennobled by the gesture in the workshops.

The magic - of the Earth, of the women, of the workshops - crossed these collections, sometimes with the fulguriousness of a trip in space time. Past and present collide with Alexandre Vauthier who wants to believe that by injecting into the present the energy of the London 80 years, the one that animated the New Romantic, was a trendwe can modify it. Ditto at Elie Saab or at Frank Sorbier who both refer to the crazy years, those years before and before world catastrophes, where the bridles had dropped and the women had taken a new power. Because ultimately, that's the issue, always: the power.

* "Take your desires for realities", slogan of Enragés who, a few months before May 68, left on the walls of Nanterre graffiti, including this one.

SCHIAPARELLI (click to read)


The parade begins in a wise way, silhouettes of modern women walking towards their destiny, or rather towards the photographers. They are dressed in wool, shantung, cashmere, organza. Only very normal: these materials belong historically to the world of haute couture. Then appears the first fishnet and raffia jacket, a poor material much used during the Second World War.

"This collection was particularly important to me," says Bertrand Guyon, director of the Schiaparelli style. I wanted her to be rich: A lot of work was done on materials, on embroidery, prints, hand-painting. This is the most advanced studio work we've done to date. "

Some pieces took more than a month of work. "A dress or two asked for 600 hours. Haute couture is also that, says Bertrand Guyon. We made embroidery in raffia, a material difficult to embroider because it remains rigid: it is not like a silk thread, it handles badly. "

There are masks on the bags and embroidered symbols everywhere. "I am very superstitious, and there are always small signs in what I create," he says. At my belt I wear a lucky bird, I am very sensitive to these small traditions. But in the context of the collection, a hint of voodoo lent itself well: as a distant evocation of Africa.

Bertrand Guyon appealed to Lucie de La Falaise to create three bags: Selene (named after the goddess of the moon), Sotéria (a Greek deity of feminine spirit and healing) and Selkie (a Scottish imaginary character) . "It's a pretty mystical collection, with fairies, and shaman women," she says. It was so poetic that I had no trouble getting into those vibrations. Bertrand invited me to discover his work last November and he gave me carte blanche to create bags. I chose the simplest idea: a kind of commission net. We created three. And as Bertrand introduced plastic into his collection, I thought about using this material too, as an encouragement to recycle it. "Magical thought ...

IRIS VAN HERPEN (click to read)


Iris Van Herpen scrolls during the week of haute couture, but she could as well present her work at the FIAC as it is on the border of fashion and art. Perhaps it is elsewhere, beyond both, because art exists only if there is artistic intention. But she does not have this claim and to prove it, Iris Van Herpen always invites an artist to collaborate on her parades.

For her latest couture collection entitled "Ludi Naturae" ("Nature's Games"), she turned to Peter Gentenaar and her floating paper sculptures. The Dutch artist makes his own paper and creates his forms first in 2 D with a wet material placed on bamboo ribs. When the dry matter, the pulp retracts (it loses about 40% of its material) and it takes shape in a partially random way.

"I like the way Peter Gentenaar captures movement and how he is able to express organic forms," ​​says Van Herpen. He created the installation for the show. I did not get literally inspired by his work but I turned around. I also watched a lot of aerial photographs and how organic shapes mixed with urban forms. There is something contradictory in this collection: both dresses that evoke nature and others that are much more graphic. I like the way the gaze is deceived by these geometric effects: the movement takes place inside the eye and the patterns give the impression of moving. What blurs the body: it changes the silhouette and the lines. "

To accurately describe the technique used by Iris Van Herpen, a process initiated by Delft University of Technology, would remove all magic from the result. Let's say it's usually about 3D printing, distortion, laser cutting, hot pressing. Short.

Iris Van Herpen has the art of showing the invisible. And that season, what did she want to reveal? "In summary, I wanted to reveal the subtle nature of Nature, his intelligence. It's an endless exploration. And I know that I will never be able to get close to that intelligence. "

GEORGES HOBEIKA (click to read)


Georges Hobeika was inspired by the style of ancient Greece, with its blurry dresses, drapes, embroidery, and gold wings. "We used blue, which is the iconic color of Greece, just like green. We also find the motive of the meander and the wheat wreaths worn intertwined in the hair, "explains the designer. A collection for a clientele detached from reality.

An ode to women goddesses? "We are a company that works to empower women and is committed to equal rights between women and men. On the podium, we are scrolling queens. "

DIOR (click to read)

DIOR SPRING / SUMMER 2018 COLLECTION. Monday 22, 14h30

Only the inevitable theatricality of life interests me. This sentence by Leonor Fini opens the note of intent of the Dior show.

Ears, noses, hanging from the ceiling of the temporary structure in the heart of the garden of the Rodin Museum where the Dior fashion show was held: Maria Grazia Chiuri wanted a surreal spring-summer 2018. A place between dream and reality where words also play a role. If you love love you will love surrealism, announced a cashmere sweater, taking the slogan of a butterfly 1924.

The clothes are not what they seem to be: like this black and white checkered dress that seems to have undergone a distortion, the dress cage or the one that sports a feminine nude in grisaille, actually formed of an infinity of pearls that draw the shadows of the body. Who wears who?

On the evening of the parade, Dior invited his guests to a Grand Ball. The scene had already been planted: on the place of the parade, Nose, ears, mouths, hanging, waiters painted in blue on which passed clouds, like so many elements of a painting of Magritte. Only the inevitable theatricality of life interests me, said Leonor Fini.

RALPH & RUSSO (click to read)


Megan Markle, Prince Harry's fiancée, is wearing their clothes. It's hard to find a better natural ambassador. The style of Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo, a fairly classic seam with a few touches of extravagance, including dresses that dress less than they undress, corresponds rather well to the spirit of the English court. Apart from transparencies, of course.

Ralph & Russo's 2018 Spring / Summer Couture Runway has been designed in 56 Passages, as well as day and evening outfits in a disparate style. The 1930 years, which we have described as crazy, are never very far with these fringes, these dresses below the knee, or these hybrid pieces between evening dress and undressed. And because the Orient and Art Deco have always been good, the influence of the East was felt from the first look: a kimono dress decorated with hand-painted peonies.

The entire collection gave the impression of having been conceived as a wardrobe in itself, intended for a traveler who moves from one time zone to another. The ideal wardrobe, which can be relied upon in any circumstance, when one is about to enter the British royal family.

ANTONIO GRIMALDI (click to read)


They advance, hieratic, as if they could undo a government, and that certainty, that of their strength, is enough for them.

For his 2018 spring-summer couture collection, Antonio Grimaldi was inspired by Vietnam and Cambodia. "I have been to the two countries for a long time this year, and I have been inspired by those people who fought for their country," he says. Hence the khaki colors, the safari jacket, and long shirts born from the military wardrobe and these metal embroidery on one arm way anatomical shield. And here and there, some embroidery inspired by the temple of Angkor Wat.

The fashion designer wanted to sing the strength of women, who do not always need to make war to win battles. And if only one sentence should remain to qualify the message contained in this collection? "A man can build a house but a woman can build a family. "

CHANEL (click to read)

CHANEL. Tuesday 23: 10h

No Eiffel Tower, no rocket to escape the Earth this season. Why escape, when France would start to regain its luster, in the eyes of Karl Lagerfeld, thanks to the new presidency?

Under the dome of the Grand Palais, an extravagant installation point (in appearance), but a French garden with its groves, its large waters, its climbing roses, its jasmine and its trellis gallery under which paraded mannequins flowers, hair to the end of their boots.

A delicacy that this bucolic collection Marie-Antoinette style, with evocations of French dresses. "I wanted the opposite of the Hamburg fashion show: French fancy, lightness," says Karl Lagerfeld.

The Chanel fashion show is an ode to a woman-garden, a hymn to femininity that blossoms gently, under flights of silk tulle, chiffon and pleated organza. On her clothes, in her hair, is embroidered a delicate flora: camellias, wisteria, thoughts, anemones, curls, carnations, poppies. Each passage reveals a work of embroidery and extraordinary plumasserie.

Everything is sweet, even the colors, tender as sweets: pale pink, almond green, coral, light gray, with some flashes of fuchsia, bright silver or electric blue. Mannequins walk with their hands in their pockets, nonchalantly. Very few accessories except veils and mittens, and absolutely no bag this season. Women who dress in haute couture do not usually need it.

A collection that sings a new spring. Perhaps also that of Karl Lagerfeld, appeared during the final with his new white beard, reminiscent of the one he wore in 1973. A beard that blurs the contours of her face and makes talk about her on the canvas almost as much as the collection: it's been more than twenty years that the look of the designer is immutable. The time would be change, whatever the nature of it ...

ALEXIS MABILLE (click to read)

ALEXIS MABILLE. Tuesday 23: 13h30

"I did not want to frame this collection with a specific theme and I decided not to choose. I wanted to show the big panel of what can be done in sewing. This collection is a summary of all the personalities of a woman. In a couture spirit, of course, with multiple materials and shapes: pants, a peacoat, a little dress, lace, a long dress, "explains Alexis Mabille.

A woman who puts what she likes, when it pleases, to wear her jewels in the back hung at the end of her braids. "There is a little gangsta princess with these braids of boxers and jewels that fall in the hair or around the ankles. These are details but we are not in a romantic world. "

So what? Seem to be the girls who parade in lace negligee, in guipure dress, in knotted shirt, or simply dressed in a long navy coat cut like a man's, or with this evening dress adorned in the back of an XXL node. How do you get in a car? "We're doing," Alexis Mabille replies, bursting into laughter. The knot is unhooked like a bolero that would have tied at the waist, he replies. In any case, these big dresses are the ones we sell first. "

A versatile collection where the extremely feminine rubs the masculine, the matte materials oppose the brilliance of brocade and satin duchess. A way to meet the desires of a customer just as versatile as his clothes.

JULIEN SUPPLIED (click to read)

JULIEN SUPPLIED. Tuesday 23: 15h30

Since Julien Fournié received the prestigious name haute couture a year ago, in January 2017, it's as if he had taken a new flight. His latest collection goes to the essentials of a style that is refined and asserts itself every season. A sort of silent conversation between lightness and dress, a gentle rigor. He has always excelled in structured outfits, here he allows himself the blur, the flexibility without structure. And on the catwalk he let flying dresses in the colors of dawn ...

"It's been years that I want to talk about Asia, but not a literal Asia, rather like a dream that I can not catch up on waking up and that finally escapes me, explains Julien Fournié just before his parade. The obsessions of this collection come from all these films which I fed myself: Farewell my Concubine of Cheng Kaige, Wives and concubines of Zhang Yimou, the empresses represented in old engravings, but also all the mangas and the "anime" that I loved when I was young.

"It's a vision of tradition and innovation blending together. The collection is futuristic, while being stamped with ancestral know-how. The wisteria that Geishas normally put in their hair, and that I put on one shoulder, were made by a Japanese woman in Japan. We used real kimonos that we deconstructed to redo clothes. Obis become Basque 1950 years and suddenly we do not recognize them.

The silhouettes are very fifties, except for some nymphets who get lost here and there. They wear dresses entirely at an angle, whose construction is very complicated, drapes ... They are heroines of mangas. "

When I ask him if these silhouettes between the past and the future are intended to reach a new clientele, Julien Fournié replies that no. "Women who come to dress at home also like to have fun with their wardrobe, to embody different characters. They like telling each other stories. We do not buy a couture dress if we do not tell stories! "

You have to see his dresses closely to understand the subtlety of the bias, to touch them to grasp the complication of the work of leather that comes to play the necklines in yoke.

While the girls dress in backstage, Nicolas Degennes, the artistic director of make-up and Givenchy colors since 18 years, makes some retouches. "I wanted to offer Julien extremely precise lines and especially not faces all white, too traditional. The white lines cut the face and the eye in half, so as to give this slightly slanted impression, but not too much, because it was not the story. I wanted to work with whites, while remaining extremely modern. The lines come to enlarge the eye: it is used in the mangas. In this collection, we talk about a woman, we talk about a Sakura flower, we talk about that femininity that Julien carries with passion. "

ALEXANDRE VAUTHIER (click to read)

ALEXANDRE VAUTHIER. Tuesday 23: 19h30

From the first look I recognize them, the New Romantic, was a trend who made the teenager dream that I was. "That's exactly it," says Alexandre Vauthier after the parade. I loved preparing this collection, this parade, with this mix of styles, the energy of girls ... New Romantic, was a trendit was the end of the punks, the beginning of New Wave. They were politically engaged, broke and I wanted to inject that spirit into the sewing. "

Alexandre Vauthier summoned to the podium the spirit of a flaming fauna. It was London in 1980 and in the street strange characters were crossing each other without mixing: the Punks on one side and the News Romantics the other. On one side recycling, refusal of consumption, No Future assumed, the safety pins, and on the other hand the white frilled blouses, the striped jackets, the baggy trousers and a dancer's make-up with the black eyes stretched to the temples.

There were plenty King's Road these extravagant characters. At number 430, had opened 10 years ago the shop Sex Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm MC Laren. Quickly renamed Let It Rock! We listened to Kate Bush and Adam & the Ants and the nights were spent The Embassy. And we dreamed of another world ...

Alexandre Vauthier wanted to exhume this energy by launching on the podium his private women ready to board, but what? From whom? They wear baggy trousers with exaggerated white blouses, corsair jackets trimmed with trimmings with large belts, crocodile bermudas and Iridescent Star Wars boots, tulle ball coats and duchess satin capes. "At that time there was a spontaneous and instant desire to change everything," says Alexandre Vauthier. And that's what I wanted to express. "

FRANCK SORBIER (click to read)

FRANCK SORBIER. Wednesday 24: 11h

In the lobby of Hotel Regina, a piano and a stage. The parades of Franck Sorbier are always halfway between the sewing and the show. It was at the cabaret that he decided to invite us, a cabaret of the roaring twenties, where he had scrolls of dresses that are equally.

"I wanted to work on the transparency effect of Murano glass, opalines, stained glass, and make it on organza, a material that has the holding," notes Franck Sorbier after the show.

Transparency for a world that has become opaque? "I think we mostly need colors, freshness. The collection is inspired by the 1920 years. At that time, who succeeded the Great War, people needed to let go, to have fun. It's a time when women felt a huge need for freedom, "says the designer.

While the able-bodied men had gone to fight at the front, the women had replaced them in the factories, in the workshops, everywhere where the needs were felt. But we do not go to the factory with a corset. Hence the liberation of the body by the dress without constraint. An exercise in style that Franck Sorbier is not used to. "Silhouettes are usually kept here. But with this collection, I looked for lightness. I realized that these dresses need a body. They can not be self-sufficient: you have to see them moving, dancing. "That's why he asked dancers to play these hand-painted organza dresses by Isabelle Tartière-Sorbier, his wife.

"The roaring years are the reign of the boy," continues Sorbier, women are cut their hair, the dresses are much flatter, some are bandaged the chest. It is a silhouette that changes radically from what preceded, including the style of Paul Poiret who was inspired by the Empire with tall sizes. We are witnessing the first female emancipation. It is also the time of the great dressmakers, Jeanne Lanvin, Coco Chanel, Madeleine Vionnet. There is then a destructured side of the garment: it moves away from the body and it makes long silhouettes.

And all this freshness, this lightness inspired by another century, after a very painful period, Franck Sorbier calls it his wishes ...

ELIE SAAB (click to read)

ELIE SAAB. Wednesday 24: 12h30

For once, the grand staircase of the Espace Cambon plays a role in a parade: it is part of the decor and as in the cabarets of the 30 years, it is down to majesty and leave the room that is in his feet, voiceless. This is the effect on the guests of the appearance of the first model, dressed in transparencies and feathers and a headdress embroidered crystals Victor Victoria way. She makes everyone agree: she is divine. But she will not sing. She is content to open the Elie Saab fashion show.

It was this free woman of the roaring twenties that Elie Saab referred to. To this "liberated Parisienne", who goes out at night, wearing dresses that do not constrain her, but reveal her body maintained by the sport. It is the reminiscence of Suzy Solidor and the boys, the endearing and desperate characters of Tendre is the night, of Gatsby the Magnificent. We know that this period will not last historically, but nothing prevents us from invoking this enchanted parenthesis and transcribing it on the podium. Elie Saab does not deprive it with a lot of feathers, satin, lace, geometric embroidery inspired Art Deco.

"Come here, quickly! Daisy shouted from the window.

It was still raining, but the sky had cleared to the west and pink and gold clouds were rolling over the sea.

  • Look at that, "she whispered, and after a moment," If only I could catch one of those pink clouds, get you up and push you through the air. " "*

* Extract of The Great Gatsby, by Francis Scott Fitzgerald

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER (click to read)

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER. Wednesday 24: 14h30

The first run, a model wearing a mini dress with black and white lines, long false eyelashes and a cup in the bowl, irreparably think of William Klein's film Who are you Polly Magoo ?, this satire of the world of fashion output in 1966.

The invitation to the parade Jean Paul Gaultier served as teaser announcing a kinetic collection. A dozen models evoke literally this art appeared in 1960, unless one does not take the term in its primary sense of moving art. In which case the whole parade was an expression of kinetic art.

The last couturier's collection is a tribute to Pierre Cardin, where he learned his craft. Pierre Cardin is also in the room. But a tribute in the manner of Jean-Paul Gaultier, with its centerpieces: his trench coat, his tuxedo, his strapless breasts, his 1940 jacket, and his long mermaid dresses.

On the voice of Gainsbourg who sings " Come on baby girl in my comic strip The model Coco Rocha, pregnant, advances on the podium, alongside her daughter Iona. There is always a moment of tenderness or fun in the Jean Paul Gaultier fashion shows.

In the film Who are you Polly Magoo?, Miss Maxwell, molded on the model of Diana Vreeland, Harper's Bazaar, launches this oxymoron so "fashion": "Fashion is dead! Long life in fashion! "...

VIKTOR & ROLF (click to read)

VIKTOR & ROLF. Wednesday 24: 16h

To be part of the very exclusive club of the haute couture it is a question of respecting strict rules, defined in a decree dating from 1945: to make tailor-made clothes, realized by hand, to have a minimum of 20 employees divided in two workshops: blur (for flowing materials) and tailoring (for structured garments). And then you have to create no less than 25 models per season. That's it for the frame. Then the haute couture is recognized, or rather recognized, thanks to the fabrics traditionally used: tulle, organza, chiffon, lace, satin duchess, among others ... So many materials that form the primer of couturiers .

For their latest collection, Viktor & Rolf engaged in a styling exercise around satin duchess. Exclusively. A monomatiere collection in a way. Only one material is a constraint but an unexpected collection, radical in the process, but soft in the result. The satin duchess is thick, it is shiny and smooth, without asperity: a matter on which the problems of the daily life seems to only slide.

Viktor & Rolf have turned around the material, putting it in all its states, including choosing to work in "intrecciato", a form of braiding usually used for leather. Without doubt the most unexpected treatment seen on the first look: a mini dress in soft hue. They treated the satin duchess flying of course, in dresses, in floral decoration, fabric both main and accessory.

If the collection is a questioning around a single subject, we can not help but think that it is also a reflection about sewing ...

ZUHAIR MURAD (click to read)

ZUHAIR MURAD. Wednesday 24: 17h

The decor sets the tone: teepee structures on the podium. We are in the Wild West revisited by the Middle East. The latest collection of Zuhair Murad is titled Indian Summer (Indian summer) and wants to be a free interpretation of the motives and traditions of the original peoples of America.

When we see how much the communities are tightening on their traditions today, how much they support more and more poor borrowing by anyone outside their culture (it is only to see the outcry generated on the web by the African braids of Kim Kardashian), it is difficult to imagine the reasons for the choice of this theme.

Of course, as in every fashion show, we are not in the direct quote, but in the evocation. It is necessary to count with the part of dream of the creator and if one gets a certain idea of ​​the Indian culture, well be it. The result is beautiful, as always with Zuhair Murad, whose workshops master the art of embroidering the impalpable. And perhaps it is better to focus on the art of gesture, on those embroideries that seem to have been made on the skin, on this work of the pen. The models paraded in a halo generated by the light spots that reverberated on the multitude of embroidered crystals, and we forget the theme, which was basically just a pretext ...