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The best looks of Paris Haute Couture Week FW21

From Fendi's tribute to Rome to Chanel's Impressionist-inspired dresses

The best looks of Paris Haute Couture Week FW21 From Fendi's tribute to Rome to Chanel's Impressionist-inspired dresses
Courtesy of Dior
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Paris Haute Couture Week reveals the desire for luxury, art, to touch beauty. From Dior with its textured embroidery to Chanel with its dresses encrusted with brushstrokes, flowers and sequins like an impressionist painting to the creations of Kim Jones for Fendi that evoke the plasticity of marble sculptures, the designers bring to the runway pieces that seem to be made not only to be worn, but to be touched, experienced fully with all the senses. This is the most interesting aspect emerging from the FW21 couture collections, but during the week there were also some hype moments related to Balenciaga's comeback to high fashion (the last show dates back to 1968) and the debut of Chitose Abe as creative director of Jean Paul Gaultier.

Here are the 5 coolest collections from Paris Haute Couture Week FW21.

 

Christian Dior

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No more digital presentations. Maria Grazia Chiuri celebrates the return to live fashion shows by reappropriating the materic aspect of fashion. Thus embroidery, from simple decorative elements, becomes the absolute protagonist of the collection, starting from the set of the show with the walls of the Musée Rodin in rue de Varenne covered by Eva Jospin's work Chambre de soie, a gigantic tapestry that reproduces on a 1:1 scale the Indian subjects of a room in Palazzo Colonna in Rome. Inspired by Threads of Life, the book in which Claire Hunter reflects on the influence of fabrics and materials in history, Chiuri turns cashmere yarns into checks and tweeds, maxi tailored coats, elegant suits with the iconic Bar jacket and high-waisted full skirts. This series of total looks in gray and black and white, which includes both amazon capes and boots and would be perfect for both a woman of the 50s jet-set and a Mod sixties ultra chic, alternate with evening dresses. It's hard to choose the most beautiful among these chiffon creations, characterized by elaborate pleats, feathers, empire waist, long train, plaits that start from the bustier to embrace the body and are declined in nude, terracotta, orange, dusty blue and pastel green.

 

Chanel

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Art, fashion and beauty are combined in Chanel's new couture creations, presented in the courtyard of Palais Galliera, the museum dedicated to fashion and costume housing an exhibition dedicated to Coco Chanel until next March. Virginie Viard started from the works of Berthe Morisot, Marie Laurencin or Édouard Manet and turned them into material creations featuring arabesques of sequins, embroidered tweed, feathers, pearls, drapes, precious lace. Rather than from the ateliers of Masion, the items seem to have come out of impressionist canvases with vivid brushstrokes, such as the bon ton coat in multicolored tweed, the mosaic dress studded with sequins or the one with the bustier covered with tulle pompoms recalling newly bloomed flowers. Along with mini-skirts and skirts embroidered with water lilies, romantic skirts full of ruffles, lace tops and garments that seem stolen from 1920s underwear, there is a selection of black and white dresses inspired by 1880s portraits of Gabrielle Chanel. The show is closed, as always, by a wedding dress a bit fifties, worn by actress Margaret Qualley. The easy-to-copy detail of this couture collection? The black satin bow in the hair.

 

Jean Paul Gaultier

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On January 22, 2020, Jean Paul Gaultier farewelled fashion presenting a spectacular fashion show at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. During the event, the enfant terrible of French style announced that the brand would continue to exist, but each new collection would be under the artistic direction of a different designer. The first of these is Sacai founder Chitose Abe. Revisited by the aesthetic taste of the Japanese creative, we find all the codes of the Maison: from the conical bustiers to the "tattooed" bodysuits recalling Les Tatouages 1994 spring-summer collection; from the pinstripe corsets to the marinière, from the army jacket to the Inut-inspired look worn by Bjork in 1994. Abe adds more dramatic proportions, emphasizes asymmetrical cuts, adds utility touches stolen from military workwear, creating hybrid garments that seem perfect for Gen Z. Any examples? The puffer jackets and bomber jackets become evening dresses, the mini dress made from Aran sweater patchwork worn with platform boots, the trench coat that becomes a bustier dress or the items made with Levi's upcycle. 

 

Fendi

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Kim Jones presents her second haute couture collection for Fendi with a fashion film directed by Luca Guadagnino showing a cast of iconic models moving through architecture echoing the arches of Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, Maison's headquarters. Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, Amber Valletta, Mariacarla Boscono, Paulina Porizkova and Lila Grace Moss are beautiful and almost hieratic as they wear the new outfits inspired by Rome and Pier Paolo Pasolini, as Jones himself points out, explaining "Pasolini observed Rome become modern - and that is what is interesting to me: connecting eras, the old with the new, the past with the present." Italian stone, the works of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the marble draperies of Roman statues, the volutes of capitals, the carvings of Corinthian capitals and mosaics come alive on the clothes. Also here, as in the proposals of Dior and Chanel, everything is textured, rich, full of details that are the result of the savoir-faire of the brand's craftsmen: from bustiers modeled as peplums to coats embroidered with three-dimensional petals, from boleros made of tiles like a mosaic to minidresses in carved lace, from the model in silk mikado and crinoline to the coat worn by Kate Moss covered with mink petals in organza, up to the ramage of flowers and leaves that make the precious gloves. The details such as gold macramé or ostrich feathers are pure luxury couture and tell of an opulent Rome rich in art. As well as the accessories. The shoes have sculpted heels that recall the arches of the Colosseum, the pumps are made with mother-of-pearl mosaic, on the bags appear Renaissance frescoes. The beautiful hand-carved jewels created by Delfina Delettrez seem stolen from a museum. It's hard to choose the most interesting among the asymmetric earrings, the white marble earcuff, the maxi necklaces or the sculptural cuff bracelets.  

Iris van Herpen

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Iris van Herpen's creations are unique. They are always intricate designs that combine craftsmanship and technology, exploring techniques such as laser cutting, 3D printing and digital fabrics. The latest collection is yet another example of this particular mix, but it adds a special focus on sustainability thanks to the collaboration with Parley for the Oceans who provided the plastic recovered from the oceans used to make some of the fabrics.  While three of the 17 dresses proposed were created in partnership with Rogan Brown, a British artist famous for his elaborate origami. The inspirations for them all? There are two. The first is Earthrise, a 1968 photo that gives the collection its title and shows how astronaut William Anders saw the Earth from the Moon. The second is the world of skydiving. In fact, the video that presents the new works of the Dutch designer features parachutist Domitille Kiger who hovers in the air and falls down to the ground in a sky blue long dress.