The best highlights from Paris Couture Week SS19


It could be argued that there is no place for reality in couture, and should you try to give this twice-yearly week of fantastical excess and splendour any sort of pragmatic context, you’ll undermine the very essence of it. It will continue to deliver an air of prestige, elegance, luxury, and aspiration to the fashion industry that ready-to-wear simply cannot.

As Paris couture week climbs to a climactic close, we round up the new couture collections, from the breathtaking, whimsical gowns to the striking settings.

Schiaparelli

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Bertrand Guyon’s SS19 couture show explored Elsa Schiaparelli’s obsession with astrological signs and flowers through the prism of her lesser-known Fifties designs. A stark contrast to the AW18 couture collection, sheeny silk gowns flowed down the catwalk in soft, delicate palettes and motifs that can only be describes as whimsical. coloured feathers gave some silhouettes a dream-like quality. 

The French designer wants to retain the brand’s DNA while making haute couture more accessible. supermodel Erin O’Connor, who is eight months pregnant, closed the show in a mesmerising tiered tulle gown.

Dior

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Roll up! The Dior circus has come to town. Ring master Maria Grazia Chiuri’s sharp and concise vision paid homage to the symbology of the circus – the glamour and performance, the sparkling costumes – and the fashion world. 

Held in a big top tent in Musée Rodin, an all-female troupe of circus acrobats circled the catwalk, but not without taking eyes away from the clothes. Dusty pastels and high-volume black and red combinations make for a striking entrance. There were bibs embroidered with daring tigers and flamed hoops. Expect to see some of the plissé gowns at the Oscars. The show has been called “Chiuri’s best yet”.

Giambattista

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At Giambattista Valli, models walked over thousands of sparkling Swarovski crystals in a sensational display titled “Paris by night”.  Who else but Valli to show both short, sexy mini dresses and  signature, extravagant trains with eclectic, lively silhouettes in one show? An oversized cocktail bow is the perfect accessory to pair with a chilled glass of Dom Pérignon at golden hour, while billowing, ballooning sleeves make for a brazen entrance. The scarlet frilled taffeta dress with parachute train, left, is a personal favourite.

Armani Privé

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Asia-meets-Art-Deco best describes Armani Privé’s extensive Spring couture showcase. The designer took over a succession of salons in the Hôtel d’Evreux for his leisurely display, which, according to WWD, drew A-listers including Uma Thurman, Céline Dion, Juliette Binoche, Dakota Fanning and Amber Heard.

Models wore flapper caps festooned with beaded fringes or modern conical hats. Pointed shoulders were a recurring theme, as were recognisable Art-Deco motifs emblazoned with heavy, high-shine embellishments. The collection was awash in ruby red, liquid metallic and regal navy.

Givenchy

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This is arguably Clare Waight Keller’s best performance of form and structure yet. There was no obligatory homage or specific historic alignment with this season’s show: “It’s about really starting fresh,” she said after her show on Tuesday night.

Incredibly ambitious and tedious techniques were applied to create the powerful shapes. Some displayed sharp, architectural lines (like the exquisite cropped blazer and second-skin leather trousers, above, that opened the show), while others flowed with a miraculous life of its own. Standout snippets include an oversized bow that doubles as a backpack and minor bursts of latex for and extra fetishistic note.

Valentino

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Florals for Spring is absolutely not boring, as demonstrated by Pierpaolo Piccioli in an airy, lavish display of decadence.

A cast mostly black models (40 of them, thanks to casting director Patrizia Pilotti), from unknowns to the original queen of the runway, Naomi Campbell. 

There were feather capes and bright satin pants; voluminous sequin overcoats, jumpsuits that resembled watercolour paintings, sheer floral tights with appliqués, and floor-length gowns. In a time when couture seems more flippant, Piccioli set out not to modernise it, but to hold onto the very dream-like quality that makes couture so special. “Couture has to be couture,” he quoted to journalists.

Ellie Saab

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What does a sea goddess emerging onto land look like? She wears a floor-sweeping aqua-blue sequinned coat. Coral-like embroidered motifs sprawl across tailored blazers and gowns, one-shoulder organza gowns in aqua and coral feel familiar; like old Hollywood glamour. Over-sized, coloured sunglasses gives the appearance of exaggerated, fish-like features (sea goggles, perhaps? A scuba mask?) A minidress covered in feather flowers is like an enchanting, exotic sea flower. The showcase, a familiar sensual and feminine display from Saab, finished with a floor-length, asymmetric dress in shimmering sea blue.