Fall 2008 Runway Trend: Accents of Haute Couture

PARIS PRET-A-PORTER (PARISFASHION WEEK) FALL-WINTER 2008-2009

PARIS, March 13, 2008 /FR/ — Is it because Paris Luxury Ready-to-Wear is slowly replacing Haute Couture as the new world trend-setter? Is it because Haute Couture houses want to reveal their full identity also in their Ready-to-Wear collections? Is it because the industrial techniques used in fashion are now enabling what was reserved before only to the best made-to-measure craft? Or is it because these pieces are only meant for the runway and will not find their way to retail?

The answer is probably contained in the questions, to some degree. However, judging from the catwalks in the City were Haute Couture was born and where it is still alive, this fall 2008, as if to enhance the general return to elegance trend, witnessed already last season, have many times nodded in their designs to the fabrics, the technicalities and the embellishments of Haute Couture.

At Chanel, one top particularly stood out in this direction. Worn with wide high-waisted pants of black, it consisted in several layers of biased white muslin. Revealing a partly naked back, the intricate draping of several layers of the delicate fabric is wrapped all around the neck in an apparently simple manner. The technical complexity behind this top does not escape the connoisseur’s eye and its elegance is due to the mastering of the best high fashion craftsmanship.

At Christian Lacroix, the turn was marked with a ready-to-wear line which, if not for the first time in the house’s history, was resolutely alluding to Lacroix’s Haute Couture identity.  Particularly in a set of monochrome cocktail dresses, the “bouillonés” and the “choux” (these elaborate drapings and convolutions of fabric forming to evoke three-dimensional flowers), particularly when cut in wonderful silk satin of bright colour, do recall couture and the precise choice of the shade which has made the couturier famous for.

The house of Lanvin, with Alber Elbaz, and the house of Balenciaga, with Nicolas Ghesquière, all have an Haute Couture past. Many journalists, fashion institutions and even official Couturiers would like these two houses to join the calendar of Haute Couture and thus also show their creations on the se occasions. Balenciaga and Lanvin have not yet made any statement about that, but in their ready-to-wear runway show for Fall, they both certainly did give an eyewink in that direction.

Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga has used a thick black silk satin to create a new volume and shape in a sleeveless skirt suit, which definitely uses couture’s tailoring craft. The only unanswered question regarding this precisely fit look lies here: how could it suit different types of women buying luxury ready-to-wear without minimum fittings?

At  Lanvin, Alber Elbaz has walked another track, using a multi-layered black fabric, the drapings of which underline feminine curves in a stunning dress. Its architecture is creating a magic effect: although the wide straps seem to drip from the shoulders, the dress is staying in its due place, but keeps moving gracefully as the woman wearing it walks past.

Many younger designers and smaller houses also had accents of Haute Couture in their collections (Atsuro Tayama, Jose Castro, Junya Watanabe, Martin Grant, Balmain, etc…). However successful they were in their attempts, they seem to indicate that being called “couture” is no longer a curse word or reproach: it might become very “edgy” again to try new ways of adapting its elegance to modern times in ready-to-wear collections, if not to compete in this field in the seasons ahead.

JEAN PAUL CAUVIN

JEAN PAUL CAUVIN

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