Couture Accessories

We’d all love to wear couture, of course, but in reality, it’s a little more complicated than that. While not every piece is an extravagant ballgown creation, those are the ones that set wardrobes apart and infer hierarchy (and no doubt a bit of jealousy too). But that doesn’t mean we can’t dream and that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything we can’t take away from the collections that took to the catwalks in Paris. They are, after all, a walking inspiration board of their own.

And this was a season in which accessories came to the fore. They were there to be noticed. First there were those headdresses that riffed on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which became quite the trend in fact – spotted first at Versace, then Elie Saab as well as Valentino, Alberta Ferretti and Dolce & Gabbana. Summer brides should take note – these were the epitome of ethereal elegance and brought romance to every look.  Flowers and feathers were added for height and exuberance at Dolce, while shimmering ribbon entwined in braids made for a headdress effect at Ferretti.

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Then there were the huge weighty chains around necks at Dior, a style note we began to see among the label’s pre-spring/summer 2016 collection – there on the handles of bags. Anchor-like, they were a clever take on the ball and chain. Start to think about going XL with your jewellery as we come into the new season, it looks fresh and new. These will be desirable hits.

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Giambattista Valli, too, flew the flag for serious accessories. Shades were of bulbous bug-eye proportions (as he so often does) teamed with fan-like earrings to match. Dainty just didn’t cut it. But overall the shape was simple, focus on ornamentation for embroidered flowers and incandescent sequin shards.

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And where once you might have been told not to combine a neck piece and a headpiece together, Valentino showed how to make it work. Gold pendants or sculpted pieces were matched to golden wreaths worn like crowns in the hair. A more day-to-day version of this would be a sizable hairclip or slide worn with a chunky necklace.

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But this isn’t about more is more and piling it on. This is about carefully considered choice pieces – that just so happen to be bigger in shape or size for note-worthy effect.


Autumn/Winter 2015-16 Balmain

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Those transfixed by Kim Kardashian’s new platinum blonde hairdo, which she debuted on the front row at Balmain, were shocked from their trance when Alessandra Ambrosio opened the show in full, in-your-face, wham-bam, glamazon glory.

She entered in a cut-to-the navel, floor-length, mustard pleated gown, belted with glossy leather. Glamour is to be expected at Balmain, but the fab-factor was dialled way up.

Vintage undertones ran deep here – if it was J.W. Anderson‘s job in London to banish the Seventies revival in favour of the Eighties, then Olivier Rousteing has picked up the baton in Paris. Although Rousteing’s show notes claimed a Seventies reference, most of these proportions – and that fierce femme attitude – felt more at home in an Eighties context.

When the collection did riff on the Seventies, then that was visible in the billowing chiffon jumpsuits, printed with popping florals and finished with a ruffled décolletage.

A focus on proportion asserted itself in wide-leg ballooning flares in fine, high-shimmer fabric, pin-tucked to accentuate the pertest of derrières, which were divine; think Pleats Please meets Kim Kardashian and you’re part way there.

In fact, Rousteing may have a #BalmainArmy but Kim was clearly the muse inspiring this collection. The newly blonde bombshell looked particularly taken with a pair of sheer lace kick flares, worn with a sheer lace top tucked into a high waist, and cinched with a wide, pearl-embellished belt.

And below the waist? Perhaps the biggest surprise came in the cover up. These clothes were designed to be less fleshy than what we have come to expect from 28-year-old Rousteing. He chooses long-legged, glowing, robust-looking girls to walk in his show (the kind of gloriously sexy goddesses you’d find walking the Victoria’s Secret runway) and there’s always oodles of skin on display. Legs when visible were in tights – a low, possibly eight-denier by the looks of things.

This was of course an autumn/winter collection, so perhaps that explains the long-sleeves and the heavier handwriting, but it must have been about more than seasonality. Perhaps this woman wants to trade less on her sexuality and more on her talents; let’s face it…

The Balmain woman is so fierce she doesn’t feel the cold.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Coach

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You can take a Brit abroad but you can’t take the Brit out of them once there. Stuart Vevers continued with his youthful reinvention of Coach – the traditional American brand at which he was installed as executive creative director last year – with his spring/summer 2015 collection. A collaboration with Californian artist Gary Baseman to make fun little creatures was testament to that as were his choices of Americana to plunder: sub-cultures, skate and surf (ever the popular right now) combined with the spirit of New York. He said it was a celebration of “beautiful oddness” and that’s where that brilliant and irreverent Brit wit stepped in for an overhaul that won’t necessarily strike a chord with a traditional Coach customer of seasons past but will put it right in front of the noses of a new generation who won’t be able to get enough of these characterful and cool pieces: shaggy, pastel jackets; critter-knits; satchels and clogs; and long lean flare silhouettes and short sharp miniskirts.

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Spring/Summer 2015 Roland Mouret

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“To be desirable,” said Roland Mouret backstage before his show – that was the point of the collection. “The meaning of desire. I want women to feel like they want to steal the clothes from the hanger straight away.”

To this end – and with an imminent New York store opening – Mouret was going back to looking at what defined him. And joy and desire was what he concluded – his sculpted silhouettes here softened in colour-blocked pastels to make this a young and fresh collection that in plenty of white, primrose yellow, pink and lilac was the embodiment of spring/summer.

Bold floral appliqués blossomed on tote bags and skirts, dresses too – at the front and as little caped backs; elsewhere came hibiscus prints laser-cut into cotton mesh for jackets and splaying A-line skirts; asymmetric hems were accompanied by injections of grass green; shorts were out in strong force and cemented that youthful sensibility. It was refreshing.

It had all started in the fittings, explained Mouret. His women chiming in with the covetable buzzword and so leading him to develop the Mouret DNA which, while still obviously underpinning the collection today, took on a lighter and relaxed new note this time round. It was refreshing.

“I’m a practical person, a Virgo, so I’m always thinking about what women will live in, trying to anticipate their feelings – people will buy because they desire,” he summed up.

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