Haute Couture Fashion Week in a COVID Time

By MiNDFOOD

Maria Grazia Chiuri, designer for fashion house Dior, works during a fitting session ahead of the Spring/Summer 2021 Haute Couture collection presentation in a digital format in Paris, France, January 20, 2021. Picture taken January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Maria Grazia Chiuri, designer for fashion house Dior, works during a fitting session ahead of the Spring/Summer 2021 Haute Couture collection presentation in a digital format in Paris, France, January 20, 2021. Picture taken January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

“Go big and stay home,” was designer Giambattista Valli’s adapted signature battle cry from this year’s Paris Haute Couture week.

Valli joins the exclusive few (emphasis on “few” this year with mainstays such as Jean Paul Gaultier opting not to show and Elie Saab deciding to withdraw at the last minute after a strict new lockdown in his home Lebanon) this week presenting fantastical, hand-created masterpieces.

Chanel is so far the only fashion house to opt for a live show, and limited its guests to a select few – including Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Vanessa Paradis and her daughter Lily-Rose Depp – who sat in carefully spaced chairs.

Always a highlight of Couture Week, not least for spectacular settings each more dramatic than the last, this year Chanel set up in the majestic Grand Palais for a collection inspired by a village wedding, incorporating a spectrum of elements from nods to men’s suiting and tuxedos to folk flair, the more traditional tweeds and plenty of sparkle, pastels and classic black and white.

In the absence of Karl Lagerfeld, who always walked the traditional bridal finale model down the runway, this year saw her enter riding side saddle on a horse.

Maria Grazia Chiuri, designer for fashion house Dior, works during a fitting session ahead of the Spring/Summer 2021 Haute Couture collection presentation in a digital format in Paris, France, January 20, 2021. Picture taken January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior presentation came in the form of an intriguing short film shot at a Tuscan castle and referencing the inspiration for the breathtaking designs, which came in particular from a 15th-century tarot deck designed for the Duke of Milan.

Another major couture player, Valentino, with head designer Pierpaolo Piccioli in lockdown in Rome, chose to showcase designs via a filmed runway show with a collection that toned down the house’s signature extravagance and instead tapped into a clean, highly wearable offering with subtle nods to streetwear. 

An opulent yet understated palette of creams, caramels and soft metallics was punctuated with washes of paintbox brights in hues from lilac and neon lime to hot pink and saffron adding energy.

Fendi joins the haute couture schedule for the first time in their 95-year history – the digital womenswear show is rumoured to star Kate Moss and her daughter Lila and Demi Moore.

Alber Elbaz, who the fashion world has dearly missed since his departure from Lanvin in 2015, launches his new brand AZ Factory with a digital collection and a live streamed event.

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