Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

Paris Haute Couture: The best from Chanel, Givenchy and Armani Prive – in pictures

As couture week continues, three of the biggest labels take to the runway

Haute couture can be a difficult concept to grasp.

Aimed at a monied few (and it really is just a few hundred women worldwide), the question I am so often asked is, why is couture such a big deal? If it is totally out of the reach for almost everyone, what, pray tell, is the point?

The answer to that is very simple. Couture is important – I would even say vital – because it is on these storied runways, during this privileged, pampered week, the great fashion houses get to unleash pure, unsullied creativity. Unfettered by cost, production supply chains or even trends, the creative designers can indulge whim and imagination, and utilise the astonishing skill at their disposal within the atelier.

As with all skills, they must be used, or they wither and die, and couture is no exception. With so much of everyday life now churned out by machines, there is something quaintly reassuring about the notion of hand made; of a person actually taking the time to sit and make something, from start to finish.

As the very antithesis of fast fashion, couture instead is languidly slow, with each piece taking months to create, and is made to last a lifetime. As we grapple with issues of pollution and unwanted shop stock ending up in landfills, there is something incredible heartening about the whole process that proves, in a plastic-choked age, quality really is important.

Givenchy

Clare Waight Keller has been at Givenchy for two years now, and with each collection seems to be shrugging off more of the pressure and history that comes with the job. Judging by the label's latest couture show, she has relaxed into the process and let her imagination fly. Called Noblesse Radicale (literally radical nobility), the collection was loose and confident, and spoke of luxury that was slightly undone, from the exposed demi-crinolines to the ribbon-trailing ruching (threatening to loose at any moment.) Kaia Gerber was almost hidden under a cloud of feathers, while the gothic lace and brides (both of them) added an unmistakable air of Dickens's ill fated Miss Haversham.

Armani Prive

As a master of cutting, no Armani show is complete without the signature waisted, cropped jackets, worn with loose trousers. While these were much in evidence for the faithful, Armani then detoured into romantic, pastel gowns that were a delight, and felt more spring-like than wintry. With a lightness and barely there quality that was captivating, it was clearly aimed at clients who prefer living in perpetual summer.

Chanel

Of course all eyes were on Chanel, for the first couture outing of new designer Virginie Viard. Staged inside a giant library, Viard called upon her 30 years of experience as Karl Lagerfeld's right hand, pored the Chanel archives and delivered a show that was as classic as it was refreshing. Yes, the Lagerfeld codes of rounded shoulders and exact proportion were there, as too the no-nonsense practicality of Coco herself. On top of this, Viard layered her own vision – of something softer and more wearable – and while ultimately absolutely Chanel, it was Chanel created by a woman, for women, once again.

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Updated: July 3, 2019 03:58 PM

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