The phrase 'haute couture' can be traced back as far as 1908, but it was in 1945 that the current specifications of Le Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture were established. To be included, a design house must have a workshop in Paris that employs at least 20 full-time technical people and present a collection of at least 50 original designs to the public twice per year in January and July. Although the Couture is only for the very wealthy, as ever, this season was filled with inspirational looks that will undoubtedly impact several markets.
1. The big reveal
Impact: red carpet gowns
It's been ten years since the Oscar ceremony where Angelina Jolie, dressed in Atelier Versace, gave the crowds a thigh-high leg flash at the Oscars and set in motion a perennial red carpet trend. Several designers at the Couture SS22 showed gowns slit to the thigh. At Chanel it was a body-con satin slip dress with the slit in the center; Zuhair Murad's striated blue gown had cold-shoulders and a tulip skirt and Valentino's black one-shouldered affair had a side slit showing thigh high stockings. Tony Ward's turquoise blue ball gown had a side slit that revealed heavily embellished footless stockings.
2. She wears the pants
Impact: tailored looks
Couture is as much about tailoring as it is about frothy evening gowns. In amongst the variety of daywear shown this time around were some two-piece pantsuits that stood out. At Christian Dior it was a heather grey version; a fitted jacket with hidden placket over straight leg pants. Ulyana Sergeenko showed pleated slouchy pants with matching two-button blazer accessorized with large corsages and white driving gloves. A slouchy hot pink version with matching bralette could be seen at Valentino and Chanel had a tweed two-piece with baggy pants over a fitted jacket.
3. A walk down the aisle
Impact: the bridal market
Couture is known to be a big influence on the ever-effervescent bridal market and SS22 was no exception. Traditional versions were shown at Julien Fournié, Rami Kadi and Zuhair Murad. Chanel's bridal gown had a twenties feel to it; a narrow slip dress with drop waist was shown with the sort of headdress made popular at the time. Y/Project and Diesel designer Glenn Martens was invited to present designs based on the archives of Jean Paul Gaultier. His bridal gown was a showstopper.
4. An intimate moment
Impact: lingerie and hosiery markets
Leg flashing looks were accessorized with show-stopping stocking choices. Black hold-ups peeped out from short dresses at Valentino. Dior’s fishnets dripped with crystal embellishment and at Fendi vine like leaves curled up and down black stockings. Body suits and body stockings, often heavily embellished, were shown at Dior, Zuhair Murad, Alexis Mabille and On Aura Tout Vu.
5. Anatomy of couture
Impact: Diversity and inclusion
According to the show notes, designer Pierpaolo Piccioli “imagined this Valentino Anatomy of Couture collection not on one single and idealized house model, but on a variety of women with different body frames and ages.” The goal was to “create a canon that reflects the richness and diversity of the contemporary world and promoting an idea of beauty that is not absolute.”
Now just shy of 60 years old, supermodel Kristen McMenamy kicked off the show. Other runway veterans Mariacarla Boscono, Anna Ewers, Lara Stone and Marie Sophie Wilson walked the runway. Curve model Jill Kortleve was joined by up-and-comers Levie Hsieh, Antoinette Walford, Nyangath Lual, and Apollo Yom. In sum, it brought a refreshingly modern aspect to the Couture, a reflection of female body types and age range found in the real life world of fashion.