Haute Couture Week Fall/Winter 2017

Design Lists Fashion Week

Following the Spring/Summer 2018 men’s shows in Paris, this season’s haute couture runway sprang to life in full dazzling force and form. From Chanel’s classic tweed coats to Schiaparelli’s celebration of friendship, this season marked new ground for several fashion houses, especially A.F. Vandevorst, as the Belgian husband-wife duo made their couture debut with loads of latex, military details and other “pedestrian” materials, which they reinforced with high-level handcraftsmanship. Here are the best collections from Haute Couture Week Fall/Winter 2017.


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When it comes to French fashion houses, there’s no name as iconic as Chanel; and this season, they celebrated their bond with Paris and French couture with a finely crafted outing underneath a reconstructed Eiffel Tower—which they simply dubbed the “Chanel Tower.” This fall-winter haute couture collection showcased some of the atelier’s best works, ranging from feather embellishments to elaborate embroideries and sharp pleating. Beyond that, this collection exploded with tweed coats, arced shoulders and beautiful bell shapes; it’s classic Chanel at its best.


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As the first-ever female creative director to be at the helm of Maison Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri took to the fall-winter couture runway with notes left behind by the late, iconic founder himself: “A complete collection should address all types of women in all countries,” as he wrote in his 1956 autobiography. What resulted was a travel-themed collection—and Chiuri’s second couture outing as CD—that was chock full of jet-set essentials circa the late Forties and early Fifties, and complete with classic tapered silhouettes, belt-cinched waists and subtle ethnic references. Overall, the velvet bustier gowns and the velvet patchwork coat (layered over a feathered gown) were strong looks in a collection filled with covetable coats.


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For their first-ever couture show, the Belgian husband-and-wife duo Filip Arickx and An Vandevorst took an unconventional approach to creating their fall 2017 collection. Instead of using lux fabrics, they opted for more “pedestrian” textiles—latex and plastic bags to name a couple—in a clever juxtaposition to the collection’s fine craftsmanship. Bodysuits and bustiers contrasted the designers’ eccentric array of rhinestone-embellished sleeves, floor-grazing tiered skirts and tapestry patters; all of these were instant favorites and played perfectly on the label’s formal-informal aesthetics.


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No haute couture recap would be complete without mentioning Elsa Schiaparelli’s namesake label. Though the late legend may be known for her bold surrealism and often-eccentric creations, her modern reincarnation has resulted in this season’s toned-down (but all-together stunning) collection by creative director Bertrand Guyon. Instead of drawing on archived motifs and past favorites, Guyon found inspiration in the strong women that inhabited Elsa’s life. Including such names as Lee Miller, Nancy Cunard and Marie-Laure de Noailles, these modern (and sometimes rebellious) women inspired several key looks this season, like the distorted tartan pleats and embroidered bustier dresses; all with subtle references to Elsa’s love for padlocks, hearts and the lobster print she created with Salvador Dali. Welcome to the Schiaparelli universe.


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Relocating from its usual show space at Les Invalides to the salons of Maison Margiela HQ, this season’s Artisanal collection showcased creative director John Galliano’s search for new glamour. Inspired by icons such as Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, he inserted several trademarks of grab-and-go glam, ranging from red nails and high heels to the cape, feather and sequin; and somehow one became the focus of the collection, the trench coat. You could find this traditional English outerwear staple characteristically distorted, twisted and shredded as Galliano deconstructed and reconstructed these looks into a collection of trench coat iterations. From the avant-garde to the relatively toned-down, this was an easy-to-love collection from beginning to end.

Brent Taalur Ramsey is an American writer living in Paris.

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