Jan 25, 2024
The Haute Couture Week dedicated to the collections for Spring/Summer 2024, which comes to an end on Thursday, featured the most sophisticated and ethereal creations, such as those by Giambattista Valli, who drew inspiration from flowers, and Alexis Mabille, who played on the make-up palette, as well as more unusual and inventive looks, such as the skilfully shredded dresses by Viktor & Rolf.
A threatening sound of scissors echoed in the darkness, when a blinding light suddenly illuminated the room. The first model stepped onto the catwalk, dressed in a majestic black taffeta trench coat, followed by the haunting clatter of the soundtrack. The first victim of this “horror film” was not long in coming, with the next model wearing the same coat, this time ripped open with scissors. Large holes let the light beige lining show through, forming cow-like patches. A third model appeared in the same garment, this time shortened at the front.
Designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren took great pleasure in cutting the piece to create four variants from a single garment, playing on the contrast between the black looks and their flesh-coloured linning – suits and corsets. As if in a painting, the different silhouettes followed one another against an immaculate white background, revealing the dexterity of the duo, who cut, slashed, ripped and teared, then recomposed and sculpted lacerated outfits or even constructed new ones from twirling shreds of fabric, at once modern and surreal.
The classic little black dress with long sleeves was transformed into a strapless minidress. The evening gown with moiré silk ruffles was split in two, revealing a transparent flesh-coloured jumpsuit, for a bare effect all the way down the left side of the body. In another version, it was shortened and the ruffles were used to make a cape with oversized shoulders. Stripped of the top and bottom, a strict trouser suit was transformed into a sexy bustier, while an ample tulle dress was slit wide open.
Giambattista Valli also gave a lesson in haute couture. But instead of proceeding by elimination like Viktor & Rolf, he gradually fleshed out his outfits. The Italian designer started with the classic Stockman, the couture bustier used by couturiers to create and adjust their clothes, embodied on the catwalk by a simple silk velvet bodysuit, which he embellished as he went along. The neckline of this first model was trimmed with a garland of white roses.
The same white roses bloomed on the bustier of a long black taffeta puff dress, on the waist of a pink chiffon skirt and on the shoulders of a white dress. Flowers were omnipresent in this N°26 collection, whether through the delicate palette of different shades of pink, wisteria, lilac and hyacinth blue, or through the many floral prints. But also in the sumptuous headpieces made from fresh roses cascading through the hair.
Inspired by the beauty of nature, Giambattista Valli seemed to make his creations blossom through vaporous volumes of crystal-encrusted tulle, puffed sleeves and silk crepe feathers used to make a long coat. Dresses with whalebones or crinolines resembled flowers in full bloom, spreading out to the sides and back with their cascade of airy fabrics. A straight dress with a wide-necked bodice and a blurred, sequined floral print was reminiscent of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies.
Alexis Mabille was also all about lightness, making simplicity the must-have of elegance in an intimate wardrobe. The sober, candid outfits were embellished here and there with precious but discreet details, such as Lyon lace, sometimes embroidered with crystals, which featured in a number of models, like the bottom of the trousers of a white satin dinner jacket suit or the shoulders and sleeves of a minimalist shirt dress in silk faille.
For this collection, entitled Mirror, Mirror, the French couturier chose the theme of cosmetics, playing with a palette of delicate, powdery shades, right down to a gradient of twilight orange, inspired by the nuances of various lipsticks in a long, draped dress.
The colour skin, in particular, is present in several boudoir-inspired models. Like this sequin-covered jumpsuit, this shimmering Chantilly lace corset paired with a bolero embroidered with mother-of-pearl, or these tight-fitting sheaths in jersey-satin embroidered with a large red mouth or an eye. Still in the boudoir spirit was a sensual negligee in silk crepe trimmed with gold ostrich feathers.
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