Report: Paris haute coutureweek

Whilst the Galliano affair continues to cast a shadow over the Paris Haute Couture fashion affaires, not only the house of Christian Dior has tried to write a new page in its history for next winter. Fashion designers are trying to find their bearings. It is vital to find new strategies to make a success of this period of transition.

To overcome financial problems, Franck Sorbier presented his first fashion collection to the public together with a bonus performance by singer Shy’m. The French fashion designer offering payed seats between 31 and 8,000 euro. As for the various marketing initiatives seen in the haute couture week, Didier Grumbach stated that “at the same time, a commercial collection, does not need to be on a podium.”

The Dutch designer Iris van Herpen has mastered creating wearable art: the leitmotiv for the new crafts industry. Her dreamlike designs use a new technique based on digital images. At her parade, followed with close interest by Manish Arora, Julien Fournie and Steffie Christaens, the young woman unveiled a lovely work of revolutionary materials: plastics and technological fibres from fields as varied as architecture, shipbuilding or even applied mechanics.

Recycling and sustainable development are of prime importance to the Brasilian Gustavolins. “To breathe new life into fabric and make something beautiful out of practically nothing”: this was the principal objective of his second haute couture collection: eleven looks, made entirely from fabric waste (gossamer gauze, silk, georgette crepe and fur), arranged in a mosaic pattern.

Fashion designers showed a “new tailor-made luxury”. The haute coutureclothes have become less flashy and more wearable. For example, with Didit Hediprayseto, a simple cotton or braided tulle T-shirt is worn with a straight skirt with a feather belt, or with Christophe Josse, a skirt in anthracite neoprene lacquered with asphalt.

This season, the “ON” schedule was as tightly packed as the seats in the most popular rooms in the capital with 23 fashion shows scheduled between 4 and 7 July, a rate of about eight shows a day.

The busy “OFF” schedule forms the eternal dilemma for fashion editors: give the greatest coverage to the large fashion houses or hedge their bets by supporting less well known designers such as Yiqing Yin (who came second in the 2011 Andam Prize) in the hope of making a real discovery?

Lastly, the big return of Azzedine Alaïa at 71 years of age or Jean Paul Gaultier’s 35 year career which coincides with the participation of new arrivals such as Giambattista Valli, Maxime Simoëns, Alexandre Vauthier or Julien Fournié "gives muscle to the designer clothing calendar,” observes Didier Grumbach, delighted at the programme which is testimony to the richness on offer in Paris in the world of haute couture.

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