Alberta Ferretti often takes inspiration from exotic motifs picked up throughout her travels. For her couture collection, the setting pretty much came to her.
Ferretti recently moved her Paris offices into the ground floor of a glorious 19th-century mansion adjacent to her boutique at 43 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. As befitting a home once owned by the Rothschilds, it is lavishly decorated with cherub paintings, friezes, and gilded moldings that vary greatly from room to room. Once painstakingly restored, they provided a perfect story line for Ferretti’s Couture collection.
“My customers are looking for evening pieces that are precious and unique with more personality, but with the modernity of ready-to-wear,” the designer explained. And she obliged to dazzling effect, plucking the rosy bouquets and geometric friezes from the walls and recasting them on a long silk evening gown in the same rich jade green. Elsewhere, a burgundy dress and a beige bustier dress in duchesse satin were hand-embroidered with brass beading and singed velvet flowers, reprising an elaborate floral relief.
Ferretti revisited several of her signature haute bohemian silhouettes, adding inserts in pale gold lace; one of the most beguiling items was a draped silver and lavender dévoré gown tied together with a ribbon in woven gold. The final exits, in tightly gathered flounces of pure white tulle, were embedded with winking, droplet-shaped crystals that recalled the Murano glass chandelier. Those looks immediately evoked wedding bells, but the truth is that a free-spirited bride could pick virtually any one of these dresses for her big day.
Who needs storybook princess when you could be a Coachella queen?
EVEN those who don’t inhabit the hyper-real realms of couture will know Giambattista Valli’s handiwork. He’s the man behind one of Amal Clooney’s wedding weekend looks and the man behind Rihanna’s pink froufrou confection, worn at the Grammy’s and which meant she could barely sit down. This is a man that knows how to make a dress – and today they came big and bulbous, taking on a floating life of their own in sweet sherbet shades and garden party paradise flowers that weaved and wound down tasselled fronts and feathered hems. Cascades of tulle made for squirty cream skirts and peplums plunged around waists, earrings serious chandeliers dangling.
There was a continuation of the long and lean silhouette that we saw among his ready-to-wear collection and there was his hallmark bubble shapes for skirts and dresses too. These were robust but beautiful forces to be reckoned with, huge bug-eyed shades to complete a contemporary and youthful look that Valli has managed to coin, albeit one that might not be all that easy to walk in (Rihanna, we assume, can testify).
Schiaparelli’s show concept was designed by Jean-Paul Goude and included a cappella choir singing from windows above. The collection, meanwhile, was designed by the in-house team following the departure of Marco Zanini last November after little more than a year at the helm of the resurrected label. Despite the brand saying at the time that it was looking to appoint someone to the position “soon”, present plans are to keep it running just as it is, with no named designer.
Like Zanini’s shows had been, it was very much inspired by a quite literal interpretation of Elsa Schiaparelli style – flowing trouser suits, big shoulders and surrealist prints such as Salvador Dali’s molten framed mirrors. Stephen Jones headdresses topped offside outfits, sometimes on a neat cap of black braids. There were beautifully tailored tux suits, such as those favoured by house muse Farida Khelfa, and the lines were long.
It is a little difficult still to see where Schiaparelli couture sits in the overall scheme of things, but perhaps a clue is to be found in the exotic skin sandals and precious miniature bags dangling from the models’ wrists.
Elie Saab looked back to his homeland, Beirut, and a bygone era – the rose tint of nostalgia to guide him and reimagine the glamour of the Sixties in a sugar-coated foray of a collection: delicate sequins, translucent silks and a ruffle of feathers.
Just as at Chanel and Armani, we stepped into the natural world – lush leaf foliage leading the models out in their gowns, for Saab is the master of them and knows how to bring to life Disney dress dreams. It wouldn’t be couture without them and he does what he does so very well, this time more feathers than sequins and more swing than sculpt to the gowns – some with petals unfurling as though a butterfly had stopped a moment.
But the most standout pieces were those more contemporary short dresses worn with flats – they were fun and playful and still as glamorous as we have come to expect from Saab.