Shows & Trends

Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2017

While most of us spend July counting down the days to a relaxing holiday or packing for an idyllic getaway, the fashion world redirects its gaze to Paris where the fall/winter 2017 Couture collections were unveiled. True to its tradition of grandeur, Haute Couture Week transported us to a marvellous spectacle in which floor-length gowns, intricate floral details, fluffy feathers and shimmering details came together and delivered us a dreamy picture that expertly displays fashion's element of fantasy and wonder. 

by Chloé Bauwens

Birds of a feather

While feathers used to be reserved to those with a certain social standing to display their status and wealth, the fluffy detail has since gained immense popularity. No longer restricted to headpieces or corsages, we saw feathers being amply used for the fall/winter 2017 ready-to-wear runways and now, true to tradition, reinterpreted for Couture. Where the bird-inspired frocks took on a wearable approach on the ready-to-wear catwalk, Couture opted for full and awe-inspiring plumage. Elie Saab's Lebanese designer showcased a 'Game of Thrones'-inspired collection where he embroidered a sense of romanticism on floor-sweeping dresses with colour-matching dancing plumes. Another Lebanese designer, Zuhair Murad, stayed true to the feather's heritage and presented a feminine 'Gibson Girl'-inspired collection. Murad's signature nude effect gowns were adorned with floaty feathering, further enhancing the seductive elements. Tamara Ralph captured the perfect amount of old-school glamour on the Ralph & Russo runway where embellished cocktail dresses, embroidered gowns and showstopping headpieces were supported by an abundance of ostrich feathers. While a Bollywood-inspired wedding gown was the show's true masterpiece, the blue and white ombré, layered, feather dress made an equally astounding impact. 

Opera gloves

According to proper etiquette, evening gloves or opera gloves need to reach beyond a woman's elbow and need to be kept on when shaking hands, dancing or presenting your hand to be kissed. Obviously, nowadays this tradition is lost in our day to day lives, where gloves have been limited to the sole purpose of keeping our hands warm on cold days. That's probably why it was so refreshing to see these formal gloves make a comeback on the Couture runways. Both Maison Margiela and Schiaparelli presented us with fine tulle gloves. While creative director Bertrand Guyon decided on colourful gloves to add an extra dimension to the Schiaparelli silhouettes, John Galliano made sure that the gloves at Maison Margiela appeared to become one with the look, reaching even beyond the elbow virtually touching the sleeves. At Jean Paul Gaultier, Gaultier went for a modernised approach of the glove, by slightly adjusting its length to below the elbow. Similar to Maison Margiela, the gloves' colour palette neatly matched to clothing, making for a striking unity that lengthens and refines the existing silhouette. 

Glimmering greens

Couture FW17 showed no shortage of colours, but it was the subtle presence of greens that requires some extra attention. The Pantone Color Institute declared green the colour of 2017, so it only makes sense that the tint was integrated into both ready-to-wear and Couture collections. For Haute Couture, the rich shade acquired an additional sense of opulence by pairing the hue with gold, silver and glittering details. At Elie Saab, the 'Game of Thrones' inspiration was translated into a mousseline gown in a deep shade of emerald green adorned with golden embroidered details and pleats. Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino in his turn, hinted at a detail of velvet green, layered underneath a demure, yet modern brocade gown. At Guo Pei, it was the green fabric itself that became iridescent, which was combined with emerald jewellery seen throughout the entire collection. 

Floral appliqués

The green inspiration developed even further, be it less literal, into the presence of floral applications in collections envisioned by several designers and maisons. Karl Lagerfeld created for the Chanel Couture AW17 show, a life-size replica of the Eiffel Tower where tweed suits and patent leather boots strutted down the runway as if they were walking on the Champs-Élysées. The showstoppers of the show, however, were feather trims, full skirts, rainbow make-up and feathered rosettes. The three-dimensional flowers topped long gloves, off-shoulder straps, necklines and hemlines, drawing attention to feminine features. At Fendi, Karl Lagerfeld took his floral garden inspiration one step further and created magical gardenesque dresses on which colourful floral appliqués and petals seemed to live a life of their own. Maria Grazia Chiuri toned the element of appliquéd flowers down for Dior's Couture show and featured elaborate floral embroidery on softly draped silk gowns, neatly balancing out the warmer silhouettes in thick wool and cashmere that also walked the runway.