The Fashion Statement: Haute Couture's Lightness of Being
The Haute Couture Spring 2011 shows have yet to wrap up in Paris this week and, already, we know the end of the story. Designers are walking the tightrope between pale blush, pinks and nudes on the one side, and bright saturated jewel tones on the other. Similarly, styles are either soft, feminine and ethereal or dramatic and rich.
"There's a sense of lightness that we're seeing, particularly in the materials," says Joanna Manganaro, an editor specializing in womenswear at trend forecasting firm Stylesight. "Chiffon, tulle--everything is done in a light-handed way. It feels featherweight. It's something more modern, more uplifting."
That was clearly the case with Givenchy. Riccardo Tisci, a designer better known for being dark and severe, delivered a collection of gowns in pale yellows, barely-there pinks and light nudes as a tribute to Butoh dander Kazuo Ohno. In the end, he remained true to his reputation for boldness. When the models turned, they revealed the backs of the gowns that were embroidered in neon orange, chartreuse and fuchsia.
Christian Dior (pictured above) had a more traditional view of things. John Galliano paid tribute to René Gruau, an illustrator who created the house's iconic images from the '40s and '50s. Remember Dior's New Look from the '40s? Galliano (who has a new look himself--a shag haircut) reinterpreted the New Look in in electric blue, fuchsia, brown, emerald green and red taffeta and satin. One of the highlights was a flaring white skirt topped with a burnt-orange jacket with shoulders out-to-there.
Gallery: Full Bloom
Chanel went modern and casual (relatively speaking, of course). "The nonchalant way of wearing couture is the newest thing this season," says Manganaro. "It appeals to the way people are dressing today." Sure enough, there were dresses worn over sequined leggings paired with flat shoes. Almost everything was pale pink.
Armani Privé was a collection inspired by colored gemstones...gemstones from outer space. The futuristic designs topped with saucer-like hats were inspired by Lady Gaga, or so some speculate, and made from fabrics that looked like liquid mercury. In fact, fashion critics have not been able to stop talking about the fabrics that seem more like malleable mirrors than textiles (apparently the effect was made by silk threaded with metal).
Jean Paul Gaultier, with a steady parade of black and red gowns, managed to hit a rather dark note. But he was in the minority. Most designers, like Elie Saab, showed flowing, ethereal gowns in lavenders, light greens, pinks and reds--clearly craving a lightness of being.