Haute Couture Fashion Week in a COVID Time

“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.

How To Get Kate Middleton’s New Low-fuss Lockdown Look

The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s new straight hair look is quickly gaining fans for its low-fuss, easily achievable style.  

She’s previously stuck steadfastly to her trademark bouncy blow dry and glossy waves for periodic appearances via video messages, despite being stuck at home like the rest of the UK. 

But it seems the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton has finally decided to fall instep with much of the rest of the country that hasn’t seen their hairdresser for months, and go with a more relaxed, low-fuss approach to her hair for her latest appearances. 

During two video call messages posted on @Kensingtonroyal in the past couple of days. Kate has worn her locks relatively straight and smooth for the first time in recent memory, her longer length hair another relatable nod to the extra time spent at home in recent months while the UK grapples with a high number of COVID-19 cases. 

In the most recent video call alongside her husband Prince William, Kate thanked Scottish NHS staff for their work during the pandemic and gifted them a haggis dinner in acknowledgement of Burns night, an annual Scottish celebration of the life and poetry of the poet Robert Burns, the author of many Scots poems.

Dressed in a tartan Emilia Wickstead dress she first wore during the Queen’s 2019 Christmas lunch, Kate completed the look with understated makeup and a remarkably shiny but low fuss hair look. It’s likely all the time spent at home without excess heat styling has contributed to the healthy state of her hair.

While as usual, there will be no detailed breakdown of her hair styling approach from insiders, there are a few easy steps to follow when aiming to recreate the same smooth style. 


Step one: Although the actual steps required are simple and fairly quick, if you want to keep hair smooth with few flyaways, prep starts in the shower. Choose a good quality hydrating shampoo and conditioner like Joico’s Moisture Recovery Shampoo and Conditioner, $38 each, for your hair type, applying a treatment mask once a week to keep strands strong and shiny.  

Step two: Towel dry gently without roughing up hair by squeezing or patting rather than rubbing.

Step Three: Before you blow dry, apply a small amount of smoothing serum or styling creme like Kérastase L’Incroyable Blowdry Lotion, $44, to fingers and run through the lengths of hair, making sure it’s evening distributed. Look for one with heat protectant that will provide nourishment and help keep the cuticles of each strand flat and smooth while warding off any damage from the heat of a hair dryer and flat irons. 

Step Four: Use a blow dryer to dry your hair by angling it down from the  roots of each length toward the ends of strands, gently tousling locks with your fingers to encourage drying but without causing too much movement that will contribute to frizz. Using a flat densely- bristled paddle brush to smooth out locks while drying can help with a straighter finish. 

Step Five: Heated flat irons are helpful for maintaining a straight finish that lasts all day but overly pin-straight hair can look slightly lifeless. The key is not to squeeze them too tightly, nor leave them in one place too long. Instead, take wide sections and run a straightener smoothly from root to tip and then let each section fall and cool. A good quality straightener like Dyson’s Corrale Straightener, $749, will not get overly hot and will distribute heat evenly so you don’t have to do more than one pass on each section, something that can contribute to dryness and damage. For layered styles, you can try turning the ends under slightly by twisting your wrist inwards as you get to the ends so hair retains slightly more shape.