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The Magic of Haute Couture Fades Against the Digital Backdrop

Traditionally, the beginning of July is the time of the couture fashion shows with the best of the best, who have managed to maintain their positions in the current market and adapt to the new rules. Due to the pandemic, however, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode decided to have the shows filmed.
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© Balmain

28 brands, 28 videos and no answer to the question why? Why on earth would Fashion Week happen at the height of a pandemic when hardly anyone cares, to say the least (nobody, to be honest, nobody at all)? A comparison with Aleksandr Pushkin's A Festival in Times of Plague comes to mind - but we have also longed for beauty and the illusion that nothing happened. We also wanted to escape current world events in the hope that beauty would save the world. Did we succeed or not? A little of both. Look for yourself


"If you can't go to Paris, Paris will come to you" could very likely be the motto for the entire new Dior Couture collection. However, the concept of a travelling exhibition goes back many years: fashion designers tried something similar after the Second World War when they created the traveling theater Théâtre de la Mode and presented fashion in 1/3 the size of a person.


Matteo Garrone was entrusted with writing the history of modern times, called Le Mythe Dior. The result was 37 brand new works that can be considered true masterpieces, unlike anything Maria Grazia Chiuri has created over the course of her career in the couture house.


The story shows a Pandora's box - a chest of miniature Dior robes - making its way through an enchanted forest, and the brand's customers are mythical creatures, such as mermaids, nymphs, and even snail girls.


As already mentioned, the Dior Haute Couture Fall / Winter 2020 is one of the most mature and well thought-out collections that the designer has ever designed for the fashion house. The 37 designs are an example of making the impossible possible.


Despite their miniature size, every garment features the same number of folds that we would see on full-size models, and even tiny zippers and concealed bustiers. The enchanted forest motif was developed in embroidery with microbeads and flower petal patterns, creating a multi-layered effect. Maria Grazia reinterpreted Dior's signature dress by hand creating a pleated crinole element, adding multiple layers of flounces to the look and emphasising the waist with a corset.

The video of the new show was viewed more than 3.5 million times in the first few hours. However, there was a fly in the ointment: Maria Grazia was accused of improper occupation. That is today's reality - the need to please everyone while forgetting the true goal of the haute couture world. But, this time, the most essential things were given priority. Bravo, Maria Grazia, bravo!


Olivier Rousteing's army was the first to go into action. Even before the official start of Fashion Week, the designer and his team embarked on a journey along the Seine and millions of people around the world were able to watch the show. Olivier organized an entire two hour stream on TikTok! But it didn't go as well as planned - at first, the sound was lost and then the video dropped out. In Paris, on the other hand, on a large barge with 50 dancers, girls wearing dozens of pieces from the couture collection, and the singer Yseult, everything went perfectly!

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© Balmain

The collection itself was perfect, too, and included both new clothing items by Olivier Rousteing and vintage items from brand founder Pierre Balmain and his successors, Erik Mortensen and Oscar de la Renta.


As expected, the new show was nothing out of the ordinary. The same mini-dresses (too short to be just dresses), the same power suits that perfectly matched the concept of a powerful and independent female character in fashion history, the same baroque patterns of embroidery and decorations, the same black and white palette with elegant lapels as a longstanding signature of this fashion house. Beautiful? Yes. Impressive? Also yes. Can we call it a retrospective of a couture house with a 75 year history? Probably no. That would really overwhelm the imagination.


On the other hand, nobody can blame Rousteing for a lack of inclusivity and diversity among his models, even if he wants to. "I'm the current creative director of the Rousteing brand. As I'm half Ethiopian and half Somali, I am an example of the difference between the present and the past. You can see the development not only in the clothes, but also in the way the world has changed. I think it's kind of a message of hope that we made it together," says the designer, inviting models of all races to his impromptu dance party, focusing on innovative designs and new ways of self-expression that we, frankly, haven't seen yet.


Collection Imaginaire is probably the most intriguing story of all to be presented during Fashion Week. It's a story about nothing - something that doesn't exist yet in reality. It is the story of an idea that may one day be realised. It's a story that takes us to the heart of the fashion world - the process of creating looks for the new collection.

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© Schiaparelli

A mask, empty streets of a big city, an equally deserted park, a bench, and a lonely man who, in seclusion, drafts designs for a future collection. That could be quite a plot for a post-apocalyptic movie or television series, but not for a fashion video that depicts something sublime and beautiful.


This could-be collection strictly follows the traditions of a couture house with a rich and somewhat absurd history. The designs for the new collection contain images of animals, this time the main image being that of a dog. Whether it is a ruffled dress that resembles a Shar Pei, or jackets adorned with tassels like the one on the Komondor - literally everything was connected to Elsa Schiaparelli's deep connection to nature. Familiar eye patterns were evident on clothes, jewellery and accessories. While it is only conveyed as a sketch, every glance is already clearly recognizable - Daniel Roseberry fills sketches with clear and meaningful details, such as bulbous sleeves or S-shapes.

About the author: Stephan Rabimov, Editor-at-Large.

Stephan Rabimov is an award-winning American journalist and fashion critic.

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© by Sarah Jane Barnes

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