Haute Couture; it’s all about the fancy. It is as beautiful as it is outrageous. In fact, one could argue that it’s not clothing at all. No. Haute Couture is art. Ever since English tailor Charles Frederick Worth established the first haute couture house in Paris, the form has continued to challenge norms and push boundaries. But couture isn’t just about pretty dresses. Couture is bespoke, hand-made by expert artisans, and fashioned out of the highest quality fabrics and materials available to the creator. As a result, garments scream luxury and radiate a sumptuousness that most of us mere mortals can only dream of.
It is no wonder Paris, one of the world’s most elegant fashion capitals, has dedicated an entire week to showcasing couture’s dazzling grandeur. Year in year out the rich, the famous, (the infamous), and the beautiful congregate in the city of lights to celebrate the creations of haute couture’s finest. From Dior to Jean-Paul Gaultier, Bulgari to Valentino, guests are treated to the opulent collections by the crème de la crème of the industry’s seasoned pros. After which it is time for contemplation, for critique, and for champagne.
Not unlike ready-to-wear shows, there are always season favourites. Stand out collections so astonishingly beautiful they leave jaws dropped and eyes opened wide. But this year, it was hard to surpass the splendour that was Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel casino. Seated in a fabricated gambling pit, guests watched on as actresses Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart and Chanel’s newest face Lily-Rose Depp as well as some other beautiful people partook in games of Russian Roulette at an open table – decked head to toe in Chanel gowns and jewels, of course.
But (thankfully) it wasn’t the celebrities who stole the show. Slender models, bewigged in short jet-black bobs, sashayed around the celebrity gamblers in distinctively Chanel attire. Quilted tweed blazers and skirts were on show, rumoured to be tailored using a new laser technique that binds dissimilar materials. It was a production move that reportedly tickled Lagerfeld pink; one of the world’s most iconic garments recreated anew for the 21st century woman.
Technicalities aside, the collection was decidedly breathtaking. Old school glamour triumphed, with bead-encrusted gowns, romantically layered cocktail dresses and ballerina-length toile skirts in delicate tones of olive green. Opulent coats were also on display, crafted from fabrics that looked good enough to eat.
The show ended with model Kendall Jenner, who closed the catwalk in a sharply tailor bridal-esque ensemble. Taking to the casino floor in a white double-breasted blazer and matching slim-leg trousers, Kendall radiated strength, elegance and class. Accessorized with a long tulle wrap that trailed delicately behind her, much like a veil, she floated amid the roulette tables as if on a cloud. In stark contrast to her white suit, her makeup was theatrical and bold: prominent brows, a strong red lip, with generous dustings of rouge.
The collection proved that like so many things in life, fashion is a gamble, a sentiment that Lagerfeld echoed after the show. “I gamble with collections more than ever,” he said. And perhaps that is why Karl and couture get along together so undeniably well. After all, couture isn’t just about pretty dresses. No. Haute couture is art.