by Jeremy Danté

admittedly, i’ve been on the fence about whether or not i should cover couture this season. givenchy has not shown for two seasons now which has created a sense of disconnect and disinterest. one has to wonder also, how functional is couture? it’s not. but does that make it relevant? does the non-functionality of haute couture as an art form hold as much value as say, street wear? with runway, you see the influence from the catwalk to the sidewalk. does couture actually have an influence aside from toting pure fashion fantasy for such a small grouping of consumers? how necessary is it for us real consumers? while i have no doubt that the ideas or inspiration hold substance; i do have my reservations on dedicating too much time to aspects of style that may create too large a departure between real people. while design is intended to elevate, couture isn’t always as easily identifiable in influence as ready-to-wear. but this season, there were noted happenings on the couture catwalk and what would my return to runway be without the inclusion of such reporting?


VERSACE – naomi-fuckn-campbell opened the FW13 haute couture season. proving that she is still as powerful as she was during the hey day of the supermodel. what more of an appropriate opening  the season? versace returned to what is true of their brand DNA this season, which i loved. after their menswear collection showed, you could feel the cohesion from menswear to couture, which is necessary. versace, as a brand, has some of the strongest brand history that is easy to see in the market. almost as iconic as the label’s medusa, versace by way of gianni created the supermodels and their rise to power in the 90’s. crystal hooks held captive selective exposed corsetry. there was an understated sex appeal, as naomi both closed and opened the show. it was a show in every sense of the word. most attractive in the collection was the use of reptile skin. in staying with the theme of fall, i felt that the most outstanding element of the collections. while the show was breathtaking, and yes i do mean the presence of naomi; i did feel as though the collection hinged on vulgarity in many senses. there was too much thigh in some places, which is not as surprising for a label like versace. but this sense of sexuality wasn’t as well played as some of donatella’s archived works. while gianni was known to push the envelope, donatella brings a feminine cool and sophistication that doesn’t look to extremes the way gianni had. body suits, gowns and what appeared to be swimwear climaxed to the close of the collection and all in all, the show was fair. i think the versace label enjoys really pushing the design decadence to the brink, that with which they did this couture season. inspired by a black and white image from the 30’s, the collection fused femininity and sexuality in a way that only versace can get away with. from menswear to this, you can feel a sense of awareness with the brand. almost like them reminding themselves of what they’ve represented in fashion for all these years. which is power.

2SCHIAPARELLI – naomi wasn’t the only one making a return this couture season. label of the past, elsa schiaparelli made a return by way of another returning creative, the incomparable christian lacroix. while i found myself underwhelmed by the overall presentation, i do feel it necessary for returning labels to pace themselves. a presentation style debut, the collection seen lacroix taking on a guest role- which i didn’t expect. i was under the impression that he had been permanently installed at the house. while one thing was certain, lacroix was present here. as for schiaparelli, im not so sure. extravagance was ever present as a vivid array of color was provided. but the aesthetic that was presented was distinctively lacroix. with a huge push for label’s revival following the spring 2012 metropolitan museum of modern art exhibit which merged with iconic italian powerhouse, prada; fashion is always unpredictable with such hopes of re-introduction. in the modern market, schiaparelli is not a label as commonly identified with the fashion evolution as some of the more popular christian dior’s, balenciaga’s or givenchy’s. these labels are much more widely regarded as contributing to the ways that women dress. the 2012 met exhibit was split into pieces, with each portion of the exhibit aligning the relativity between the forgotten label and the unavoidable prada. part one was waist up/waist down, which showcased decorative detailing in fashion design. ugly chic was part two, which self-explanatorily presented the unattractive in a way that was almost accidentally chic. hard chic preesnted the fashionization of uniformity, and structure or regularity, repitiion in fashion; a common taste level for most new age minimalist labels in fashion. the remaining portions of the exhibit showcased girly aesthetics with naîf chic, expected femininity with the classical body, sultry eastern influence headlined for the exotic body and surrealism contemporarily headlined the surreal body finale and close of the exhibit. while this collection seemed to only scratch the surface of the schiaparelli brand heritage, it’s a start. im curious to see what will happen next. other iconic labels have tried and failed, most recently american label, halston has been stalled. even despite the involvement of celebrity consults and big budget owners of stakes. couture was able to get it’s feet off the ground, but will they drop ready-to-wear and who will be involved?

3CHRISTIAN DIOR – with versace returning to the heritage of their brand, schiaparelli looking to reinvigorate the market with their’s; the house of christian dior remains on a steady course to simplification. raf simons is somewhat of a minimalist gangsta. in the context of design, christian dior has been intricately weaved with the theatricality of john galliano. the design drama, the cinematic shows, the juggernaut aesthetics- this is what we’ve associated with dior. now, in the year 2013, we’re slowly but surely drawing back to the label’s classic feminine appeal. that simplicity was beautifully provided to us this couture season. though not an easy pill to swallow initially. the collection was said to be inspired by freedom. it was natural with the use of stripes, almost resembling a new age american flag of sorts in my own mind. while the collection didn’t feel as much like couture, i am leaving the christian dior collections to take on their own presence as oppose to weighing them down with my own galliano-esque ideas of what dior should be. there was a blending of ideas, which i really appreciated. there was classic dior with raf simons simplicity. you felt that marriage happening in this collection, which was done very well- in a refreshing format. shapes have begun shifting and transformation is not an overnight process, nor is it a two season process, these things take time. as long as creative freedom is allowed to be expressed, translated and represented over time, the aesthetic of the house will successfully transfrom. the use of color in this collection was not my favorite, but i appreciated the change and deviation from such aspects of couture that rely too heavily on glamor or opulence. understated with greater delving into redirection, the collection was good.

4VALENTINO – of the many labels that have experienced changes in the last several years, my favorite stands as valentino. amdist creative transitions, they’ve never once fallen off their creative game. and i say fuck what critics said. fantastical while also representing function for real women and celebrities alike. of course, the sense of real women i speak of are a fantasy themselves; there is a blending of realism in these clothes so strongly that it allows you to dream about being able to live it. the collection the house of valentino presented focused on daywear, which is a different level of taste that added dimension to the set of collections presented for the haute couture season. overcoats with decadent details, accents of fur- there was a real wearability factor with this collection, which i enjoyed. the house has looked to all of their collections to fuse that sense of function with powerful construction detailing in all elements from their footwear to their menswear. always a stand out for me, i understand and appreciate the culmination of house heritage and modern trend as told by maria grazia chiuri and pier paolo piccioli. this season seen the label take on a palette of golden tones with decadent details that really elevated valentino’s presence as a full scope fashion house. as one of the only modern fashion houses that remains exceptionally true to their legacy, i loved this collection the most of all others this season. it didn’t feel like a transitory collection, as the dual creative directors have settled into their creative groove nicely. while i’ve made no attempts to rank collections in this season’s report, this was absolutely my top choice.


CHANEL – there is no competition for a house like chanel. there is no competition, really, for karl lagerfeld either. but with all that hype, my natural reaction is almost to shy away. yes, we see a different variation of chanel style design elements; but is this an upholding of signatures or redundancy? im almost desensitized by the house of chanel. i expect to see a black and white campaign, i expect an over abundance of tweed. all those elements were present, as i expected them to be, this couture season. i guess it’s one of those, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ situations and the label definitely doesn’t have issues selling anything. girls still clamor over the houses classic handbags, as the prices go up as often as gas prices. chanel is a staple in the luxury market, and i guess the label will continue to thrive until that comes to a stop. i think lagerfeld, though a genius, has such a large influence that everyone just kind of buys into it. they buy into the hype of it all. not to discredit the creative potential, but to speak frankly on the existence of versatility, variation and the evolution of a label from season to season. while each collection has a theme, this one was a merging of old world and new school, even the show staging is dramatized. though drama is necessary for any great show, it’s almost like a distraction. while details created a differentiation from last season, as did that slew of hats- the collection wasn’t anything new or exciting to me. it was everything i would expect chanel to be, because it’s so annoyingly similar from season to season. from ready-to-wear, to couture- it’s always the same. where’s the excitement? certainly not at chanel. at least not in my mind.

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