A Magical Haute Couture 2016

Now playing: “What’s It Gonna Be?” by Shura (EP Nothing’s Real freshly released today and on repeat)


It’s the time of the year where haute couture comes out to play, and this year shows that it was out to top the last round of collections – bolder, bigger and better.

The magic of haute couture lies in the no-expense-spared, indulgent frivolity of it all. Hundreds of hours of work (to put it in perspective, the average time it takes to make a mass-produced garment is a couple of minutes) are put into bringing an idea to life, constructing every element by hand from start to finish. Watching the extreme attention to detail being tended to by skilled, experienced craftsmen in “Making-of” videos is frankly fascinating and enthralling. I remember watching a video showing the making of a Chanel couture dress – about 20 people were gathered around the train of the dress, each meticulously sewing on individual beads. Good God, is anyone even going to buy this at the end of the day?

When it comes to haute couture, more is more is more. With budget out of the question, this is the chance for designers to create fantasy pieces, items of mere spectacle – with couture being so exclusive and expensive, some pieces don’t even see the light of day after being showcased on the catwalk. But that’s the fun of it all! Yay fashion!

For Fall 2016, a number of the haute couture collections were all about rippling, decadent textures accompanied by a smattering of jewelled embellishments. Here are some of the highlights I’ve picked out.


Christian Dior

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Even post-Raf, Dior still doesn’t fail to capture my heart and confirm that this fashion house is my all-time favourite. One of the reasons I think I’m won over by Simons’ successors, understudies Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux, is because they injected a whole lot of black into this collection. Black, the colour of my soul.

Dear God, it was difficult to pick out just six looks from the show. Every single piece is absolutely beautiful and infatuating. No joke, THEY ARE WORKS OF ART. Call it melodramatic, call it hyperbolic; I have no shame for expressing my doting love for Dior.

There was potential for Meier and Ruffieux to make this go wrong, but they didn’t revert to a stunned dullness or clone-like repetition in facing the pressure of matching Simons (a.k.a God).  Splashes of gold and silver embroidery bejewelled black silhouettes (and meandering white ones) loosely shadowing Christian Dior’s 1947 New Look bar jacket and skirt combo, but without the traditional froth.

Dior’s Fall 2017 is dark, cunning, almost frosty: the hardened Sansa Stark of Season 6. While this collection perhaps didn’t showcase the pair’s abilities to their best – whilst I do love it, I feel like they could’ve gone above and beyond in taking the extremities of haute couture to staggering heights – I think they managed this difficult moment of turbulence (it was only just announced that Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri was to officially replace Simons as Creative Director of the brand) well.


Giambattista Valli

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Valli once said “Haute couture is about pushing the techniques of the atelier furthest.” And this collection, just like its predecessors, echoed just that.

The collection started off with regal ice princesses decked in sweet floral prints on cream canvases, teardrop earrings and pendant necklaces and, last but by certainly no means, metres and metres of chiffon ruffles (this is a Giambattista Valli show, after all – he is the master of multi-tiered ruffles). Puff sleeves, pale tights and neck ruffs gave off the air of an 18th century French empress. Think Empress Joséphine or Marie Antoinette – with the endearment of Kirsten Dunst. 

Following that were willowy figures draped in sheer, flowing gowns fit for a Grecian goddess. Ice white, pink, lilac and grey-blue were the colours of choice, the curveball Valli threw were the dashes of scarlet red in-between.

In traditional Valli style, the show ended with a trio of tiered tulle confections so grand and delicious I almost died a little on the inside.



Natalia Vodianova on the catwalk

Model on the catwalk

Model on the catwalk

Model on the catwalk

Bella Hadid on the catwalk

Kendall Jenner on the catwalk













Tisci proved he was a game-changer last week by once again embedding his women’s 2016 couture collection in his menswear 2017 show.

Like finely crafted statues, the great moving pillars – Vodianova, Smalls, Boscono et al., showcased elaborate pleats and draping, with Tisci keeping a monochromatic simplicity of black, white and khaki, to keep the focus on the rippling structure and delicate beadwork.

Chic, androgynous tailoring was met with futuristic mirrored embroidery, which juxtaposed yet complimented the accompanied 1920’s-style slicked and high-shine hair. Think The Great Gatsby, as stylised by Baz Luhrmann.


(Images (except Givenchy): voguerunway.com. Other: wwd.com)

There’s my quick round-up of Haute Couture season. Which collections are your favourite?

The Style Banks x


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