A Common Thread
Every designer and fashion house that showed their unique collections during Paris Fashion Week had their own vision of what is in store for next autumn and winter. As much as Viktor & Rolf is rock and roll compared to the enchanting Valentino or glamorous Elie Saab, all three collections share some similarities and therefore give us an idea of what will be trending for the seasons to come.
The Reinvention of the Little Black Dress
What has been and will always be timeless is every woman’s must-have: the little black dress. This item has been reinvented over and over again, especially by Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren. Their collection for Autumn/Winter 2013 displays what the duo is best known for: voluminous bows and sweet ruffles. The show began with a succession of short dresses and pleated, quilted skirts with sculpted dimensions. Their version of the little black dress incorporated crumpled bows and structured sleeves.
On the other side of the spectrum, designers Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri from Valentino envisioned the same classic black staple in their collection, but with spiritual undertones. The designers were inspired by Flemish paintings, particularly Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. The show opened with the melodic, gradual winding of a music box. One by one, like in a familiar fairy tale, visions of fragility and innocence floated down the runway. These dolls walked in a square formation, as if enclosing the frame of a Dutch master’s painting. The spellbinding show started with a series of black A-line baby doll dresses with cream lace collars, carrying an air of Puritanism.
Normally very pure to his own aesthetic of shimmery lace gowns perfect for the red carpet, Elie Saab turned to the dark side for his collection and by doing so, the designer himself has taken a turn for the better. This season, we see an increasingly masculine array of designs including crêpe satin jumpsuits, tuxedo jackets, and high-waisted trousers. Saab’s version of the little black dress involved graphic lines for a slimming effect in a variety of necklines from a deep V, to round, to scoop. Almost every dress was accessorised with a thin belt around the waist. The designer also incorporated his signature peekaboo lace in the garments to give conservatism a hint of allure.
Bigger is Better: Outerwear
What’s more is that oversized coats are expected to be prominent next autumn. Viktor & Rolf featured large jackets with bows or structured sleeves. Sporty sweaters with a feather design graced the runway too.
Outerwear was presented in between Valentino’s mesmerizing assortment of daywear and eveningwear with hints of vivacious red, China porcelain blue, and floral prints. Slowly but surely, large coats and capes in splashes of white appeared. Then, furs emerged, but only to return to a more playful, romantic mood with scalloped dresses and ornate evening gowns.
A variety of outerwear was seen in Elie Saab’s collection ranging from a massive ivory floor length cape to an enduring black mid-length coat.
Black and White
The reoccurring colour palette for this season contained black and white, ebony and ivory. Viktor & Rolf’s entire collection was composed of these two hues, with the exception of shoes, which included a pair of hot red loafers. Accessories were comprised of the “Bombette” handbag in a glossy lacquer finish, reminiscent of the house’s iconic Flowerbomb perfume bottle shape. The music gradually became more forceful with heavier beats, introducing a new wave of torn and ripped pantsuits that were only patched together with delicate lace and white feathers. The destruction of a tailored blazer and pair of pants made those ensembles devastatingly edgy. Whether she chooses to be innocent with some rock-and-roll or undeniably dark with a dash of sweet, this season’s Viktor & Rolf girl always plays with order and chaos.
Likewise, Valentino’s collection started with black and white. It proceeded to showcase an assortment of reds, blues, and floral patterns, but ultimately returned to the two essential shades of ebony and ivory for the finale. The show was enchanting and filled with a demure innocence. It is exactly that purity which makes the clothes pretty and intriguing. The viewer is enticed by this innocence, and the clothes thereby provoke a kind of sensuality. Vermeer would be proud.
Elie Saab managed to outdo himself by simultaneously staying true to his own aesthetic of elegant eveningwear in both black and white, and transforming the classic Saab woman into a darker, fiercer creature who remains undeniably sophisticated.