Can Couture Hold the Answer to Fashion’s Turbulent Future?

Is escapism relevant today? Where does our inner urge for exhibitionism go when we are on lockdown sporting sweatshirt bottoms? Enter couture. For the season,designers made some serious effort to both consider those questions and present their own version of response. Some brands are producing photograph portfolios of their collections while others are hosting presentations in a socially distanced setting. Opulent daywear, elaborate craftsmanship, and coed collections set the tone for the season. Daywear for couture might sound innovative enough in an era where we all live and work in sweatshirts but actually, it isn’t.

In fact, daywear has always been a couture staple, at least for the last 50 years. From Yves Saint Laurent’s Christian Dior debut with an ingenious take on the Mod look in the form of a crocodile jacket with mink trim and Givenchy’s elaborate daywear, couture had always had something to say when it comes to the everyday life of the rich and fortunate, This season also included menswear, something interesting to observe, yet not new to couture collections, either.

Lets speak with examples. In Valentino, Pierre Paolo Pizzioli decided to Italian palazzo, the Galleria Colonna in Rome, to show his high fashion slash intellectual take on  Couture as daywear.“My idea is to witness the moment,” Piccioli explained, as he fittingly named the collection ‘Temporal.’ We spotted lush evening skirts paired with turtleneck sweaters and slinky dresses in creams and neutrals along with sudden bursts of super-bright pinks and neon greens. Those were wearable couture clothes for the everyday activities of the fortunate and rich. There was fantasy, imagination, and a solid sense that everything that is beautiful has a place in our everyday world. In that sense, our routine has become the ultimate ceremony, For Piccioli, “the roots, the rituals, the processes of the haute couture are an exaltation of the human being. Time is a code and a mantra, as time spent by the seamstresses to work on a dress is the most valuable aspect.”

Kim Jones’ Fendi Haute Couture show was a debut but somehow didn’t feel as such. It was his first collection for the Roman house, of course; it was also his first-ever womenswear collection and Fendi’s debut spring haute couture show. Kim Jones’s approach echoed the idea that as soon as this is over, we will all go for glamour and embellishments in gender-fluid styles. Think roaring twenties meet futurism. The resulting collection was soft, delicate, and combined traditionally delicate shapes with masculine detailing. Flowing capes with soft trouser suits, marbled dresses, and the epitome of Jones coed concept, a beaded dresses affixed with part of a tailored blazer. Modeled by a stellar cast of icons that included Kate Moss Naomi Campbell, Demy Moore, the collection was a sincere effort to deliver something that matters, yet it didn’t.

Will technological innovation then help increase couture’s relevance to an ever-changing postmodern world? Iris Van Herpen thinks so, and has a point to prove with her collection.The designer paired with Parley for the Oceans and used their proprietary fabric, made from ocean waste to make an interesting point, that sustainability can very well reach couture levels.  “Basically, there’s not a lot of reason not to use sustainable materials anymore, other than changing your mindset,” she said. In a couture sea of opulence and ostentatious waste, the idea of creating sustainable luxury that looks and feels greats, sounds surprisingly fresh, ”I really believe that couture can be the frontier for fashion, innovation, and sustainability”, noted Van Herpen, and we cannot but applaud.

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