Haute Couture Pulse
The much-anticipated return of in-person runway shows for the SS22 Haute Couture season is only minimally deterred by the Omicron surge. However, the giddiness of Ready-to-Wear’s previous Fall collections, which in hindsight prematurely predicted a post-Covid “ready-to-mingle” state of the world, is now tempered by reality, resulting in a less fantastical couture season that finds designers grappling with the here and now and focusing on cut and craftsmanship. From calming, neutral colors at Dior to the exploration of new forms at Valentino and more subdued flapper fare at Chanel, the season is grounded but not without a few flights of fancy. Beauty, too, is often stripped back and sometimes severe, with architectural shapes, strong lines, and bold coloring.
Report by Eurydice Sanchez
Spring 2022 Haute Couture comes along right when the world is desperately in need of “the stuff that dreams are made of” yet collections eschew over-the-top fantasy in favor of subtlety and realism, reflecting the changing times. Viktor & Rolf use the imagery of Dracula from old Hollywood films as a metaphor for “the fear of change,” elongating and exaggerating shoulder lines so that models look like the after effects of a very stressful week. Creating the raised shoulder via removable corsetry, the collection is otherwise relatively flourish-free. Construction is also at the heart of Pierpaolo Piccioli’s “Anatomy of Couture” at Valentino but focuses on representation, where the designer breaks with standard house model sizing and creates silhouettes for a range of sizes and proportions not normally seen on runways. Stressing human connection via craftsmanship at Dior, creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri works with an austere palette of primarily white, ecru, gray, and black, and with the concept of embroidery less as artifice and more as integral to the design process – reflecting her need to feel “calm.” Refreshing 1920’s opulence, Alexandre Vauthier tackles bias cuts yet modernizes and downplays looks with boots, while Chanel artistic director Virginie Viard leans more towards demure flappers, with feathers and fringe tempered by constructivist prints as well as an aggressive beauty.
Elsewhere, otherworldly themes inspired by pandemic-induced musings on Dune, spirituality and space emerge at Fendi and Schiaparelli. The former leans into its Roman roots for statuary prints and monastic influences while the latter builds on recent momentum with celestial sculptural elements that enhance an otherwise stripped-back collection of LBDs (plus a hint of white). Less mystical and more magical, enchanted gardens abound from Rahul Mishra to Elie Saab, and allow for more extravagant and flowery ornamentation but one of the most magical moments comes with the melding of two minds and styles at Jean Paul Gaultier. For his second guest designer collaboration with Y/Project’s Glenn Martens, the two house’s codes merge seamlessly with Breton stripes embellished with coral embroideries, corsetry, tulle and mesh, and undulating fabrics all creating a wondrous moment of escapism.
BEAUTY – Aggressive Glamour
Taking cues from the apparel itself, aggressive looks come on strong, favoring hard angles, sleek hair, and a monochromatic or bold color palette. Describing models as “fierce and regal” at Fendi, make-up artist Peter Philips starts with clean, luminous skin and randomly covers faces in Swarovski crystals. Hair is ultra-glossy, and slickly center-parted or given a monastic micro fringe by Guido Palau, also responsible for the pared-back look at Dior, where clear white under-liner draws attention, set against fresh complexions and nude lips. Continuing this look of cool severity at Chanel, models wear a deep black, soft-focus, graphic double wing eye that is inspired by 20’s/30’s Constructivism. Viktor & Rolf’s gorgeous dream ghouls are one exception to color, with make-up artist Lucy Bridge recreating a sickly bride of Dracula look with glossy terracotta encircling eyes, bleached brows, hot fuchsia blush, and blackened-rouge patent lips upped with vampiric stiletto nails.
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