Our couture correspondent, Amine Jreissati, travels from Beirut to Paris to take in the shows. Here, he reports on his favorite moments from Spring 2013 Couture Week.
The Makeup at Chanel
The models at Chanel looked like ravens lost in a forest. Nude facial makeup and unfinished, trashed, wild eye makeup gave the look a certain appeal. Elegant, different, and refined, the models’ eyes looked like those of a bird ready to escape.
I love that designers always try to create a new kind of headpiece. They feel the need to add something to the look by covering the models’ heads, and they do so differently. Raf Simons was inspired by horse riding, Lagerfeld thought of his models as birds, Armani had his models’ heads covered by fez/cloche hybrids, and, to soften his looks, Jean Paul Gaultier used a simple oversized veil.
What surprised me most this season was the fact that designers included some very casual looks in their shows. They decided to kill the couture routine that we’re used to by adding casual pants, jackets, clutches, and accessories, which made some of the looks very read-to-wear. Armani used tribal patterns, albeit hand-made and extremely costly, Raf Simons invented a “mini cape” that was easy to wear and looked so nonchalant that, for a second, I thought I was watching a ready-to-wear show, and Donatella Versace, who is known for putting sexy looks on the runway, started the show with casual ensembles that were hard to qualify as couture. Nevertheless, the techniques and the finishing remained impeccable.
The Jean Paul Gaultier Finale
The music and the scenography at the Jean Paul Gaultier finale were by far the best this season – although Chanel’s finale carried an important message as well. Gaultier’s bride lifted her dress as four kids ran out from underneath it to an Indian remix of La Vie en Rose.
A Trend in Haute Couture
I loved the fact that, while trends are originally inexistent in couture, that wasn’t the case this season. Most of the designers showed an obvious inspiration in the form of flowers; printed, embroidered, 3-D, on hair, on hips, on hands – flowers were everywhere. And, to be honest, it felt like a breath of fresh air and a welcomed change from the usual excess of leather, fur, and prints. This season, the trend seemed to impose itself proudly.
The Similarity of the Sets
I have always loved similarities between brands and have rarely witnessed a similarity in show concept as strong as the one between Dior and Chanel this season. The brands showed in similar setups, reminiscent of nature. Dior showed first in a green, sunny garden, while Chanel showed in a wintery forest. At Dior, the dresses were covered with flowers, and, at Chanel, the models were birds. They were not similar as much as they were compatible. I loved the fact that these two houses had, for once, a more or less similar idea at the same time.
Elie Saab approached the necklines of his dresses like paintings, leaving us not knowing where they started or where they ended, or whether they were see-through or embroidered. We had the impression that the dresses were glued to the bodies of the models, giving the silhouettes a certain elegance.
Charlene de Monaco
Front rows are very important during Haute Couture and will usually be filled with clients, who are long standing patrons of the brand, and celebrities, who either love the brand or who the brand wants to dress. Seeing Princess Charlene of Monaco at the Atelier Versace Show was very surprising. I would have expected her to attend a French label show or to see her at Armani, as she got married in an Armani Privé dress. Versace is definitely not a brand that I would expect to see her wearing, but I would love to know what her favorite look was.
The Gloves at Dior
I thought that these summer gloves were a brilliant idea. They complete a look, they make your outfit stand out, and they are beautiful to look at. These flowers embroidered on tulle made me think of flourished gardens growing on the arm, just like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
The Best Look at Dior
There is not doubt that this is, for me, the most beautiful look of the collection. It follows Dior codes, Raf Simons’ minimal touch, and the glamour of French couture. The color is stunning, the length is perfect, and the cut is flawless. This dress is a résumé of the show and contains all the components of Raf’s inspiration and message. Not too much, not too long, yet stunning and minimal – this is French couture!
The Best Look at Chanel
Although it’s not characteristic of Chanel, this look is the simplest, the nicest, the most romantic, and the most glamorous. It could fit both a bride and an actress at the Oscars. I think this look is a good summary of the entire collection that relies on birds, flowers, and the feeling of being lost in a forest. The model looked like a white bird that got lost on its way home to Chanel.
The Best Look at Versace
I don’t know why, but whatever Karlie Kloss wears is always, for me, the best look. She wears this particular look incredibly well, and, as simple as it is, it looks great on her. She always looks good in everything and everything looks great on her. Yes, I adore Karlie and I love Versace on Karlie.
The Best Look at Armani Privé
This is not the most ‘couture’ of looks, but what makes it my favorite is the styling. I think that the mix of colors, materials, and accessories is perfect. The length of the jacket and the fringes of the top paired with these silk black pants are a very good match. The styling may make it casual, but it still has a certain twist that makes it stand out.
The Best Look at Jean Paul Gaultier
Inspired by India, Gaultier showed a collection filled with colors, patterns, and layers. The look that caught my eye, however, had nothing to do with India. In 1990, during her Blond Ambition Tour, Madonna’s corset with conical breasts attained iconic status. Jean Paul Gaultier made this one of his trademark looks and reinterprets it differently every season – and I can’t help but love every reinterpretation.
The Best Look at Elie Saab
To be honest, it took me some time to pick a favorite look at Elie Saab. I have always been a fan, and I think that he did a wonderful job reinventing himself this season by using different techniques and cuts. I love the color; this icy grey gave me goose bumps. The dress looks like a garden that has been frozen for years and is now being brought back to life. It’s like a sculpture.
The Best Look at Zuhair Murad
Although a white and short dress might sound like déjà-vu, this wonderful piece made entirely by hand is worth every penny. Murad is known for his love of baroque and gold, which were his inspirations for this collection, and this dress is a perfect combination of the old and the new.
The Best Look at Rami Al Ali
This season, Rami Al Ali, our beloved Dubai-based Syrian designer, made his Paris debut. It was as if his transition from Rome to Paris had made him see things differently. His collection was beautiful, very simple, summery, and detailed. This yellow dress may look simple in a picture, but its movement represented a lot. It is the only colored dress in a nude, black, and white collection; it’s a sunbeam.
The Best Look at Maison Martin Margiela
Always different, on the edge, and with a twist, Maison Martin Margiela doesn’t stop surprising us. Using masques, paint, unique vintage pieces, and otherworldly ideas, I can only image that the Margiela studio had a lot of fun designing this piece, which was part of the last look. It was, for me, the only worthy one. Made of silver candy paper, this dress, called Bonbon, is by far the most interesting piece of the collection.
The Roger Vivier Presentation
Bruno Frisoni was very attentive to the brand’s heritage this season. He revisited some iconic styles by Mr. Vivier, building a dialogue between classic models and innovative designs. Working on the ‘Rendez Vous’ collection, it was a challenge for Frisoni to keep the identity of the brand clear all the while lending a twist to the designs. Unique pieces that should be in every woman’s closet will be on sale starting September 2013. Good luck choosing your Cinderella pair; it’s a tough choice!
Backstage at Dior
Being backstage at Dior reminded me of the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. Most of us can imagine how hectic it must be, but living it and experiencing it firsthand is different. The makeup and hair stations and artists, the different looks, the models, the photographers, the entire team, the press, and Raf Simons were all there in this relatively small space. Models were reading or sleeping while others were being transformed. Identical wigs were prepared and delicately placed to cover their hair, giving me the impression that I was surrounded by a multitude of twins. It was a garden of women. The backstage area was actually underneath the stage, so the models came out of the ground like flowers. It is definitely a new era for Dior!