Haute Couture Spring 2012

The city of Paris is abuzz with models, critics and elite ladies as the Spring Couture 2012 collections kicked off  yesterday with Versace, a line not seen on the Paris Couture schedule since 2004, and will close with Valentino on Thursday, January 26th.

In the preview of Dior’s spring haute couture collection, Bill Gaytten, creative director since the demise of John Galliano, spoke of viewing the “iconic look” of the house with x-ray vision. Gaytten went on to say he was thinking, “about transparency versus opacity, of clothes having to be perfect enough to be held up to intense scrutiny”. The collection was a study on transparency vs. opaqueness, positive vs. negative, black and white with a smattering of red and plum throughout. The feel was one of old Hollywood and ladylike lunches of the 50’s viewed through a collection of dresses, full skirts and coats, with a finale of grand ball gowns.

While there is a void for pretty, ladylike, well crafted clothes, and when surmising on who might fill it, Dior is the first name to roll off people’s tongues. It needs to be a Dior with a more modern vision, a sense of bravado, that has been missing since Galliano’s departure.

Vogue said it best when it described Giambasttista Valli’s second haute couture collection as, “an assured study in the marriage of old-school couture techniques with desirable contemporary clothing”. Valli’s voice came through the collection of fragile lace, chiffon skirts, photo prints of flowers over organza crinoline skirts, black sequin skirts that revealed panels of filmy black lace and plenty of bare leg and bouclé jackets with “new look peplums”, loud and clear. Valli’s brilliant choice of Luigi Scialanga’s silvered bronze belts and necklaces to anchor his airy chiffon pieces aided in the modernity of the collection. Giambattista post show statements, ” I love the idea of wearability, bringing an old-fashioned idea of what couture should be firmly into the twenty-first century” sums up this gorgeous collection precisely.

In contrast to Dior, Versace was an infusion of color after a prologue of grey that began the show. Backstage, Donatella described the collection, “I call them my warrior women”,  and indeed, with dresses cut second-skin tight and accentuating the hourglass curves of a woman’s body, with extra padding at the hip and shoulders, this was a collection for fierce women on a mission to rule the red carpet.

A small yet strong collection, save for the 2 one-shouldered dresses that looked hurried and unthought, consisted of gowns, super-short mini dresses– some with matching zip-front jackets — and a strapless maillot and short number. A collection not for the faint of heart.

First section – clockwise from top left: Christian Dior, Christian Dior, Giambattista Valli, Giambattista Valli, Giambattista Valli, Christian Dior – all Haute Couture Spring 2012.

Second Section – all Atelier Versace Haute Couture Spring 2012


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