Couture is a special kind of fashion week. It is, in essence, a big publicity drive for fashion brands. The market for couture is incredibly small, many of the labels showing will be happy to sell one or two pieces from these collections. When you consider the price points for these garments (generally over £5000), this is hardly surprising! What a good couture show does do, however, is tell us more about a designer, his skill, propensity for innovation, and his appreciation and understanding of quality.
There were a couple of labels this season that really played to the "big publicity stunt" idea, and gave us some looks that were perhaps a bit wild for most tastes. Most notably, On Aura Tout Vu, with their bizarre legs and arms sprouting from weird places, and Iris Van Herpen, who put out a lovely collection that appears to be inspired by sound waves, using curves, ripples and spikes. I rather like this dress, soundproof rooms are surrounded in this kind of triangular surface. (You can zoom into any of the photos by clicking on them)
The week as a whole has left me a little flat to be honest. McQueen is notable by their absence, the injection of sheer decadance is slightly lacking this season, and overall I wasn't as impressed as I have been previously. But their were a few lovely moments. The big winners were those who took couture ideas and made them into something both wearable and beautiful. For me, this was Armani Privé, Stephane Rolland, and by far and away the king was Gaultier.
Armani Privé had a lovely concept (and I love a good concept), mixing traditional Japanese shapes and fabrics with modern formal tailoring. There are some lovely, very wearable pieces at the start of the collection before the arrival of some stunning evening wear. This is a label that will sell couture, so the mixture of wearability and beauty is key. My favourite is this fitted look:
Gaultier also had a very clear concept. Oh, how I would have loved to be in their studio when this was going on. Looking through this collection you step back into the time of Al Capone, and, a few dodgy male model choices aside, the gangster and his moll are very clearly represented. If you check out one collection, it should be this one, go on, look here! There are a couple of knits here (they are almost entirely absent from couture), and as expected, they are very exciting.
Third of my favourite collections was Stephane Holland. A much smaller label, this collection, like Armani's, mixed in a lot of formal tailoring into what was overall just a beautiful, feminine and interesting collection. I absolutely love this oversized jacket:
Lastly I couldn't not show you this knit, as you're bound to see it at some point. Harking back to "couture for publicity" this gown of cables surely fulfils that brief!
All photos from catwalking.com