Spring-Summer 2020 haute couture collections in Paris ended today, having started on Monday, January 20. Haute couture collections are one of my favourites. Why? Because they represent the ultimate expression of fashion; the creation by hand of the most exquisite clothes – art really – in the most immaculate of detail, innovation, creativity and craftsmanship. The culmination of a vision, coupled with endless hours of talent, precision and execution of these exquisite pieces shown publicly to their clientele is true inspiration. Just imagine it all. The entire process is really mind-blowing. Have you seen the documentary, Dior and I? If not, I really encourage you to do so.
Below are a few of my favourites shows and looks from the Spring-Summer 2020 collection. Throughout, is also a brief summary of the origins of haute couture and who the current designers are of each fashion house, as to be honest, this was elusive information to me previously.
Haute couture is the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute Couture stands out by the uniqueness of original models created each year, and the customization of these models which are then crafted to fit the client’s measurements. Its origins are attributed to Charles Frederick Worth who in 1858 founded the first true Couture House at number 7, rue de la Paix in Paris. Worth was also the first to use live models in order to promote his garments to clients, and to sew branded labels into his clothing. Before that Rose Bertin, Marie-Antoinette’s « Fashion Minister » had foreshadowed it, being the first to start freeing up the female body, all the while adorning her creations with embroidery, lace and rose petals.
The Occupation of Paris during World War II nearly destroyed Haute Couture. Post-War, government authorities started implementing policies to support it, which led to legal protection of its activities in 1945. Only a commission of professionals, appointed by the Ministry of Industry, is allowed to award (or withdraw) the label Haute Couture. The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (the body who awards the designation) is one of three divisions alongside women’s ready-to-wear and menswear within the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode. To be considered a haute couture house, brands must, to name a few, own an atelier in Paris with at least 15 full-time employees and present at least 50 original looks in a show, twice a year.
There was a total of 34 shows this year; 16 Haute Couture labelled Houses (ADELINE ANDRÉ, ALEXANDRE VAUTHIER, ALEXIS MABILLE, BOUCHRA JARRAR, CHANEL (Virginie Viard), CHRISTIAN DIOR (Maria Grazia Chiuri), FRANCK SORBIER, GIAMBATTISTA VALLI, GIVENCHY (Clare Waight Keller), JEAN-PAUL GAULTIER (*final show for Monsieur Gaultier), JULIEN FOURNIÉ, MAISON MARGIELA (Martin Margiela), MAISON RABIH KAYROUZ, MAURIZIO GALANTE, SCHIAPARELLI (Daniel Roseberry), STÉPHANE ROLLAND); four corresponding (foreign) houses (GIORGIO ARMANI PRIVÉ, ELIE SAAB, VIKTOR & ROLF (Viktor Horsting, Rolf Snoeren), VALENTINO (Pier Paolo Piccioli) and 16 houses were invited guests (AGANOVICH (Brooke Taylor & Nana Aganovich), AELIS (Nana Aganovich), ANTONIO GRIMALDI, AZZARO COUTURE (Maxime Simoëns), GEORGES HOBEIKA, GUO PEI, IMANE AYISSI, IRIS VAN HERPEN, JULIE DE LIBRAN, RALPH & RUSSO (Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo), RAHUL MISHRA, RVDK/RONALD VAN DER KEMP, ULYANA SERGEENKO, XUAN (Xuan-Thu Nguyen), YUIMA NAKAZATO, ZUHAIR MURAD).
Top Image: Amelia Rami, Anya Lyagoshina, Lulu Valentine, Megan Bull & Nyasha Matonhodze all in Alexander McQueen. Styled by Leith Clark and photographed by Erik Madigan for Harpers Bazaar UK February 2017 via tumblr.