Chanel, Dior, Versace, Oh My! Notes from Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week – Fall 2016

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Chanel, Dior, Versace, Oh My! Notes from Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week – Fall 2016
With Menswear Fashion Week come and gone, now it’s time for one of the most hotly anticipated events of the season: the Fall 2016 Haute Couture Fashion Week, which took place in Paris the first week of July. Haute Couture is the type of garb most people think of when they think of a runway show: elaborate, ornate gowns and ensembles, costing thousands of dollars and unattainable to most of us mere mortals. Haute Couture items are among the most grueling, difficult, and impressive creations given to us by the fashion world. All the heavy hitters were out for the festivities: Chanel, Dior, Versace, Valentino, Jean Paul Gaultier,  Armani Privé, J. Mendel, Givenchy, Alberta Ferretti, Viktor & Rolf, and more. (Of note: anyone looking for a new scent should try out Viktor & Rolf’s perfume Flowerbomb – it’s a floral, magical, cornucopia that has earned me and others many a compliment.) Chanel’s backdrop at its show was befitting of the house, as helmed by Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld is a visionary (albeit a controversial one; see: comments made about Adele, Pippa Middelton, and others). The larger-than-life Lagerfeld decided that the show’s backdrop at the Grand Palais would include all of the Chanel ateliers’ dress makers from Rue Cambon, along with their work materials. Lagerfeld said, as reported by Vogue: “Behind the girls in the show, there are 200 more who make what they wear—that’s quite a lot, no?—and I thought we should show them to the public too.” Celebrities were in attendance, comme d’habitude, with the likes of Oscar-nominees Jessica Chastain, and Will Smith, who was there supporting daughter Willow Smith (also in attendance). Willow was recently named a Chanel Ambassador. She told The Telegraph in regards to the honor: “It’s not every day that a 15 year-old black girl with dreads gets elected to be the Chanel ambassador.” Over at Dior, blacks and whites were the theme. Simple, classic – two colors that never go out of style. Inspiration for the looks was said to have come from the design of Dior’s New Look Bar jacket (from 1947) and crinolined skirt. Large skirts and black taffeta dresses were out in full force, with stitches of gold and silver threading. But the biggest news at Dior at the moment is not the clothes, but rather the fact that the house is on the cusp of announcing who will be the next appointed person to helm the house, after an unexpected departure by Raf Simons last fall. Fashion is an industry of constant change and motion, so the house’s news (rather, soon-to-be news) of big change is right at home. Oh la la, Versace. House head and maven, Dontella Versace, told Vogue in advance of the reveal of her latest collection: “This collection is different for me. I put a lot of attention on draping, and less on embroideries and super-sexy.” Light blues, lavenders, and ballet slipper pinks were all part of the palette which was noticeably more muted than usual. The draping was elegant and classic. Bella Hadid worked the runway, alongside other gorgeous Gisele-esque models. Armani Privé boasted front-row A-listers like Cate Blanchett. The show’s theme was ample black velvet fabric and embroidery with Swarovski crystals. Pant suits, capes, long jackets, stunning gowns, and bold, dangly statement earrings were hits on the runway. Valentino’s stunning show was all about a Shakespearean era, with high-necked, white, fluffy collars and tall boots fit for the Bard, with Romeo and Juliet look-a-likes donning gold hair bands flitting down the runway. Having played Queen Elizabeth twice in Oscar-nominated roles, one imagines Blanchett would’ve enjoyed the Valentino numbers as well. Givenchy rolled out a smaller collection, but the quality more than made up for quantity. Frocks in whites, blacks, and forest green were stunning and ornate. And so, yet again the transformative power of fashion was on display at Haute Couture Fashion Week, as models embodied the “vision” of the houses they walked for on the runway. Like Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, a little flair can go a long way – down a brick road or even just the sidewalks of Paris. We’ll see what the next season has in store.
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Lead photo credit : A close up of the new Giorgio Armani Privé Fall Winter 2016-17 collection from backstage before the show

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Anne McCarthy is a contributing writer to BBC News, Teen Vogue, The Telegraph, Dance Magazine, and more. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Westminster and is the Editor in Chief of Fat Tire Tours’ travel blog. She lives in New York City.