Couture And Its Visual Cues

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Couture collections are always the most mesmerizing. This is of course largely due to the no-expenses-spared approach to detailing, but also I generally think couture collections have the best points of reference – and will explore these references in more daring ways.

Here are some of my favourite looks from this years’ Autumn/Winter couture collections so far, and some of the visual inspirations that may lie behind them…

Christian Dior – pierrots

I have a thing about pierrots. Every year I consider dressing up as one for Halloween just so I can do my make up like one, then realise I don’t have anything to wear for the dress (I always decide on costumes at the last minute, and with a minimal/non-existent budget). If someone wants to buy me this Dior creation, I’d be happy to actualise my pierrot plans this year. Thanks.

Alexis Mabille – Robin Hood

Alexis Mabille wasn’t the only designer to drawn upon medieval points of references – as you will see – but he was the only one to take medieval menswear as his inspiration. This look in particular was very Robin Hood.

Illustration by Louis Rhede
(Interestingly enough, I’ve also pondered dressing up as Robin Hood before. Maybe this is why I like couture collections so much – it’s a goldmine for fancy dress ideas.)
Giambattista Valli – Rogier van der Weyden

For his debut couture collection, Valli gaves us the feminine ruffles we love from ready to wear collection – topped off with headwear like that found in a Rogier van der Weyden portrait. This one dates from c. 1460.

Armani Prive – ukiyo-e prints

Armani Prive went for a very Japanese aesthetic for this collection – so woodblock prints are a natural source of inspiration. Many ukiyo-e prints depict women from the infamous ‘Pleasure Quarters’ of Edo (Tokyo), such as this one by Utagawa Kunisada: I guarantee there were some similar images on the moodboards for this collection.

Givenchy and Valentino – Queen Guinevere

There were lots of similarities between Givenchy (left) and Valentino (right)’s couture collections. The long, elegant silouhette. A tendency towards a lighter palette, despite it being an Autumn/Winter collection. A weightless aesthetic, aided by sheers and chiffons. Natural, dewy make up. Breath-takingly intricate detailing. All of these point towards the same woman: Queen Guinevere, painted here by William Morris.

Chanel – Boy George

Okay. I admit it. This probably isn’t the aesthetic that Chanel hoped to evoke in their couture collection. But it really was the first image that popped into my mind when I saw that hat/eyewear combo. And now I can’t think of anything else when I look at it.

Elie Saab – Ginger Rogers

Elie Saab’s collection oozed thirties glamour, just like Ginger.

Jean Paul Gaultier – Roxy Music, and Art Nouveau

Finally, Jean Paul Gautier’s collection was a diverse one. Though the eighties make up was a constant (hello Boy George again), different looks reminded me of radically different departure points. Amongst these, Roxy Music’s iconic album cover for For Your Pleasure, and Art Nouveau illustration…

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