Your Cheat Sheet to Fall 2016 Couture Fashion Week
The beauty of Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week is that it's a runway-after-runway fashion feast packed with impossibly beautiful creations. It's an opportunity for couturiers to unleash their creativity, completely uninhibited in their vision without having to be weighed down with worries about consumer habits or mass market appeal. Nothing's reined in, nothing's edited out or censored. It's basically a week-long salute to superior craftsmanship and one-of-a-kind wonders.
Interestingly enough, the brand that kicked off the fall/winter 2016 shows at Couture Fashion Week was with a collection that was neither couture nor for fall. Nor was the brand itself a part of Chambre Syndicale de la Couture (a trade association for high fashion that sets the standard of what it means for something to be labeled "haute couture"). The brand in question? Vetements, aka one of today's buzziest labels. With the blessing of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, the Gvasalia brothers showed a spring 2017 ready-to-wear Vetements collection of both men's and womenswear that revolved around a line-up of designer collabs, including Brioni, Manolo Blahnik, and Levi's. Not couture, but it was truly spectacular all the same.
Other highlights from Couture Fashion Week: Will and Willow Smith turning Chanel's couture show into a father-daughter outing (with a cameo from Jessica Chastain), Bella Hadid smoldering on the Dior Couture runway, Giambattista Valli's next round of his famous frothy, cupcake-y gowns (above), and Celine Dion, as fashion week's most surprising MVP. There's more. Scroll through for a quick 20-slide glance at everything you need to know about the fall/winter 2016 shows at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week.
Vetements Kicks Off Couture Fashion Week—Not with Couture
With the blessing of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, Vetements showed a spring 2017 ready-to-wear collection of both men's and womenswear that showcased a long line-up of designer collabs, including Brioni (oversize shirts, super extended sleeves), Manolo Blahnik (incredible waist-high boots), and even Juicy Couture (branded black velour pieces). While this wasn't couture, the results were equally impressive.
Karl Lagerfeld Pays Tribute to the House's Seamstresses
Lagerfeld turned the spotlight on the seamstresses responsible for bringing Chanel's Haute Couture creations to life. He first gave the Grand Palais a behind-the-scenes makeover, transforming the set to resemble the brand's haute couture ateliers, and then he had the head of each atelier greet the guests by his side. "They never get to see the show and deserve to be honored," he said.
The Front Row Sitch at Dior Haute Couture
Will and Willow Smith turned the Dior Haute Couture show into a sweet dad-and-daughter outing (with a cool A-list celebrity cameo by Jessica Chastain).
Iris van Herpen Fuses Tech and Fashion
The designer's fall 2016 couture collection could have easily taken up residence at the Met's "Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology" exhibit no problem (she already has several creations on display, including one particular skeletal design). The standouts: her incredible plisse technique, the thousands and thousands of silicone-coated hand-blown glass bubbles, and honeycombs of fine Japanese organza (that's been reported to be woven from thread five times lighter than human hair).
Bella Hadid Smolders at Dior Haute Couture
As the face of Dior Beauty, Bella Hadid was, of course present to model the brand's fall 2016 couture looks, many of which were modern-day riffs on the Dior's famous New Look silhouette.
Celine Dion As Couture Fashion Week's Most Surprising MVP
We all know which stars hit the fashion week circuit without fail (ahem, Olivia Palermo), but for this season's MVP, we would have to award it to—surprise!—Celine Dion, who took a front row seat at Dior (in a badass all-black ensemble with leather pants, no less) and at Giambattista Valli Haute Couture (in a mixed print coat and gown).
Clouds of Tulle at Giambattista Valli Haute Couture
Giambattista Valli's frothy couture gowns (made Internet famous by Rihanna's cupcake dress at the 2015 Grammys) are always a delight to see every time Couture Fashion Week rolls around. His latest take? Tiers on tiers in Bordeaux red and lavender-gray that spanned the width of the runway.
Schiaparelli's Circus-Themed Show
The source of inspiration: Elsa Schiaparelli's 1938 circus collection. Creative director Bertrand Guyon's modern-day take: velvet numbers intricately embroidered with circus animals and otherwordly gowns with celestial prints.
Versace Debuts a New Look
Donatella Versace took a different route for the fall 2016 Atelier Versace collection, (mostly) eschewing the brand's signatures, like skin-tight silhouettes and NSFW cut-outs scattered all over. Instead, she opened the collection with offbeat color combos (pale pink and Bordeaux; lavender and crimson red) with modest looks that only hinted at sex appeal—trench coats pulled down to reveal one shoulder, a red coat over a slinky slip, and Bella Hadid clad in a red gown, all covered up except for a racy thigh-high slit.
Viktor & Rolf Speak the Three R's
Reduce, reuse, recycle—that seemed to be the basis of Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren's fall 2016 couture collection. They took the green approach and reused mementos from past collections to weave together scraps of fabric, creating texture and voluminous shapes. The result? A line-up that looks intentionally homemade.
Riccardo Tisci Taps the It-Girl Squad
The designer carried on his tradition of showing couture during Givenchy's men's show and recruited three of the big-names in the business to help him do it: Natalia Vodianova (who walked the runway less than a month after giving birth), Bella Hadid, and Kendall Jenner.
Valentino Does Shakespeare—the Couture Way
Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli time-traveled to the Elizabethan era for the starting point of the Valentino Haute Couture collection. White ruffled collars decorated the necklines of nearly every look, knee-high riding boots took the place of the usual gladiators, and one gown was so ornate, it was reported to take 110 hours to hand paint.
Zoe Kravitz Dressed Up As a Ballerina
For the Valentino Couture show, Zoe Kravitz eschewed her edgy bad gal chains and leather in favor for the prettiest, most ethereal ballerina look from the brand's fall 2016 collection.
Elie Saab Paid Homage to N.Y.C.
The couturier drew inspiration from the Big Apple (his 4,000-square-foot New York City flagship is set to open on Madison Avenue in 2017) and embroidered a Chrysler Building-lookalike motif on his opening looks.
Elie Saab Debuts Mommy-and-Me Looks
The couturier drew "aww"s from the crowd when he sent out sweeping ball gowns in adult and miniature form.
J. Mendel Presents His First-Ever Couture Collection
As a guest member of Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, Paris-born, N.Y.C.-based designer Gilles Mendel returned to his native city to present his first-ever couture collection—that served as a tribute to well, New York City. "My goal with this collection was to integrate all the facets of beauty that informed my sense of style as a young man, mixing these with the contemporary codes of the house of Mendel," he said in a statement. "This is the story of my life and the story I want to share."
Cate Blanchett Sits Front Row at Armani Prive
Cate Blanchett gave the Giorgio Armani Prive fall 2016 show a hit of star power as she took her seat in a printed Armani one-piece creation (naturally, as she was the guest of honor and currently the face of the brand's Si fragrance) that perfectly exemplified her style—on-trend and timeless all at the same time.
Alexandre Vauthier Builds a Couture Army
The designer took the squad theme to the next level and built himself an army for his couture collection, recruiting It girls, like Jourdan Dunn, Bella Hadid, and Soo Joo Park, to model intricately beaded army green gowns, heavy-duty parkas over sleek jumpsuits, and Swarovski crystal-studded fatigues.
Jean Paul Gaultier Dreams Up a Fantastical Forest
Ever the showman, Jean Paul Gaultier dreamt of a forest and ran with it for couture, which looked like rich wood grain-printed dresses, leafy headwear, and other nature-bound creations—three of which were embellished with hundreds of thousands of Swarovski crystals. And of course there were his usual cast of supermodels to bring his vision to life, including Coco Rocha, Anna Cleveland, and Soo Joo Park (as a woodland fairy bride).
Fendi's 90th Anniversary Runway Show Included Models Walking on Water
To celebrate the luxury label's 90th anniversary, Karl Lagerfeld did the impossible—he staged Fendi's second Haute Fourrure's show atop one of Rome's most iconic landmarks: the Trevi Fountain. Models, including Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, graced the see-through runway, giving the impression that they were walking on water. Truly magical.