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Runway Review: Couture Week

Photo via Style.com

 

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A mid lecture glimpse at red carpet photos from last night’s SAG awards was proof enough of how well greased the fashion merry-go-round has become. From the couture salons of Paris a feeble few dresses had already been shipped off to stylists and paraded on the celebrity eye candy at an award show no one really cares about anyways. Natalie Portman looked regal in port Giambattista Valli and Zoe Saldana donned a two piece Givenchy column that lost much of its Gothic beauty once turned out for the press.

Couture has an air about it certainly. It’s the frenchiness of the whole production perhaps, that sense of well varnished tradition and pomp, of objects d’arte and the elusive collectors who presumably sweep in after the shows to claim each hand embroidered sash and molded rubber corset. We’re told they hail from all over the world–traditionally Western Europe, America. and the Middle East but more increasingly now Asia and Russia. Regardless of their provenance, buyers had plenty to gawk at this particular show season.

Perhaps feeding off the unrelenting high spirits of the Spring 2012 collections, couture designers body checked restraint in favor of all sorts of shenanigans this past week. Some of the antics obviously paid off (Chanel’s inky blue parade of sequins, Givenchy’s elaborate face jewelry, the boozy decadence of Jean Paul Gaultier’s homage to Winehousian excess) while other ventures deviated one too many degrees from the path of decent taste (the Chartreuse overload at Armani, painted models at Alexis Mabille). Restraint was provided via an excellent ready to wear collection by Bouchra Jarrar, full of well cut pants and  feathered fly-away vests, the sort of clothes couture clients might wear for day time engagements.

Missteps notwithstanding, it was exciting to see the couture masters dabbling in showmanship again. The high falutin concepts were traded in for a genuine go at impactful, statement making collections, not just from a clothing perspective but also in the way looks were styled and arranged.

The couture on display at the SAG awards last night may have been tepid to say the least, but come Oscar time, I’ll be looking to see which of the many stunning dresses Hollywood’s upper crust (or rather their studio payrolled stylists) will commandeer for show biz’s brightest night. My personal hope is that Dior Couture look #25–a semi sheer confection of amethyst chiffon–will find its slinky way onto Charlize Theron’s form when the world is watching.

 

Photos via the New York Times and Style.com

 

 

-Thomas Dai 14′