Traditionally, we look to flowers in bloom, foliage, and the prettiest kinds of dresses for Spring: Karl Lagerfeld does that, too, but we don't get all the trappings of tradition without Lagerfeld's eye for edgier nuance and modernized femininity. For Chanel's Spring Couture, Lagerfeld transformed the Grand Palais in the heart of Paris into a private forest. Models stepped out onto a runway that resembled a hidden pathway, dotted with moss and greenery, making Lagerfeld's foray into Spring territory all the more authentic — and all the more lush. Gauzy, plush layers finished with feathered hemlines, floral appliqués, and pleated tiers gave dresses, both short and floor-length, a whimsical touch that Lagerfeld countered with straight off-the shoulder necklines and again in accessories. Never leaning too far toward romance or toward looking too far ahead to something entirely unfamiliar, the collection balances vintage-inspired silhouettes — ladylike elbow-length sleeves and gloves, Chanel's tweedy finishes, and a black, white, and navy palette — with lace and metallic thigh-high open-toe boots. It's very much about the neckline — attention must be paid to the layered off-the-shoulder cuts exposing yet another layer or the halter necklines revealing the collarbone and shoulders. And even when Lagerfeld delivers Spring bridal wear, he can't help but play with tradition — and not just because his two brides may be construed as a nod to same-sex marriage — but with a wedding dress done up in creamy white feathers and finished in layers of dreamy tulle. He marries the strong and soft — and makes us weak in the knees with every floaty hemline and every expertly crafted detail that results. Click through to see the collection in its entirety.
For her Spring 2013 Couture collection, Donatella Versace imposed the high-impact codes of her house — bright colors, intricate appliques, lots of skin — on strong-shouldered suits, slinky gowns, and minidresses whose hems started at mid-thigh but ended up skimming the floor.
But for all the body-conscious and curve-hugging pieces she sent down the runway (staged underneath the glass dome of the old Paris bank Le Centorial), this offering had a surprising amount of geometry in it. Kristen McMenamy opened the show in a black suit with gold pinstripes, and that linear motif was repeated elsewhere in the collection with pleated skirts, the parallel lines of quilting on a few leather motorcycle jackets, and the slim strokes of fur sewn onto a vest and a denim minidress decorated with bits of metal.
Other embellishments here included oversize crystals tucked just inside those many pleats, and neon leather tubing used to give a little structure and a lot of edge to some of the simpler dresses Versace showed. But even those dresses were fitted with pieces of mesh that showed off their wearer's legs and thighs.
In a whirlwind week of Haute Couture, it's not an easy task to pick the crème de la crème (after all, isn't it all the best of the best?), but we did. After taking in the confections from Couture Week's heavy-hitters, we made it a mission to pick the most gorgeous gowns — the ones that totally took our breath away. From the lacy gowns at Valentino, finished in fairy-tale-like capes, to the all-out siren strapless numbers at Versace, there's nothing short of stunning in this curated collection of our favorites. Giambattista Valli said it with flowers, Givenchy with regal-inspired luxe — in any case, these truly are the most glamorous of them all.
There was no shortage of glitz at Atelier Versace's Fall 2012 show on Monday, the first full-on runway outing for the couture label in nearly a decade. In fact, Donatella seemed intent on summoning the flamboyant spirit of the label's founder, Gianni. The show was held in the storied pool room of the Ritz Paris — the same place Gianni used to hold his show — with the pool covered over and three sleek glass panels providing an electric-hued backdrop.
The theme, the show notes stated, was "deconstruction and reconstruction in all its various forms." This manifested itself in the perforated-leather jackets, plasticized-strip minidresses, and pieced-and-stitched gowns — with slits up to there — that came down the runway glittering with crystal beads and in pastel metallics. Silhouettes, too, played with the idea of juxtaposition and revision, in skin-revealing layers and curve-enhancing forms: the skirts of gowns billowed out from second-skin corsets, and sharp-flared jackets nipped in at the waist with tough leather belts.
Photos courtesy Versace
We've officially wrapped up Paris Couture Fashion Week, and there's certainly a lot to take in. From Chanel's quite literal flight of fancy to Jean Paul Gaultier's runway tribute to Amy Winehouse, we were pretty delighted with the high-end offerings. While some pieces will undoubtedly hit the red carpet on Hollywood's A-list, others are probably best suited for Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj — but either way, there was surely enough gorgeousness to put us in a bona fide couture coma. We've rounded up 35 of the best looks from the past week — click through to see them all now.
Paris Couture Week never disappoints lovers of innovative hairstyling and makeup, and this season took many of your favorite beauty trends to new levels of drama and decadence. Of the looks that Chanel, Dior, Versace, and all the other big names sent down the runway this week, though, which deserve your thumbs up? See what the big houses had to offer and decide for yourself.
Now that Paris Couture Fashion Week has showed off its last collection, we thought we'd put your couture knowledge to the test. Whether it be a pretty pastel-hued frock or an intricately embellished gown, were you paying close attention to the Spring 2012 looks coming down each couturier's runway? There's only one way to find out — test your haute knowledge with our fresh-out-of-the-atelier game!
Givenchy's Spring 2012 presentation just validated our longtime desire to play basketball in a couture gown — Riccardo Tisci brought total glamour to the hardwood, showing beautiful '20s and '30s-inspired looks reminiscent of classic science fiction films. It took 350 hours to complete the silk jersey gowns, which were embroidered with scales of crocodile skin, curve-contouring zippers, and opaque beads — making for extraordinarily one-of-a-kind pieces that are sure to bring the ultimate drama to any red carpet. The feminine, slightly edgy collection was simply breathtaking, and we can't wait to see which starlet will sport the pieces this season.
- Trends: Crystals, sequins, and lots of intricate beaded detailing; crocodile scales embroidered on silk tulle.
- Colors: White, black, and mocha.
- Key Look: The long-sleeved, full-length crocodile scale gown.
- Accessories: Embellished nose rings and oversize, shoulder-sweeping earrings.
- Who Would Wear It: Risk-taking red-carpet stars like Tilda Swinton, Evan Rachel Wood, and Cate Blanchett.
Gowns swathed in toile-inspired prints and soft, wallpaper florals hinted at Jane Austin era romance at Valentino. There's a distinctly feminine feel, and a hint of both Parisian decadence and Victorian propriety in the collars, bows, and capes that topped delicate silver-embellished gowns and sheer-topped confections. Everything feels emphatically pretty — the softness, the bow and floral-appliqué adornments; even the slipper-style loafers are done up in the same florals and details.
- Trends: Sheer, antique and toile-inspired florals, Victorian collars.
- Colors: White, cream, and soft pink, blue, and green.
- Key Look: The soft floral-print and embellished strapless gown; the creamy white shift.
- Accessories: Embellished and printed loafers.
- Who Would Wear It: Claire Danes, Kate Bosworth; the ultra-femme red-carpet beauties.
That's a wrap on Couture Fashion Week. We've seen everything from neoprene brights and peplum at Atelier Versace to sheer cutouts and sequins at Chanel to beautiful pastel embellishments at Elie Saab — all of which, we predict, we'll be seeing on an A-list red carpet very soon. While the couture collections were nothing short of gorgeous, it's time to take one last look at the fresh front row style. At yesterday's Valentino show, Cameron Diaz worked it in a lacy white Valentino minidress and nude pointy-toe pumps, while Dita Von Teese vamped it up at Jean-Paul Gaultier in all black. Keep clicking to get a glimpse of these stylish stars at the Haute Couture shows.