Dazzling hues, arresting patterns and bold prints – the haute couture world celebrates the emergence of spring with a seemingly endless array of divine designs. From subtly sophisticated power suits and chic silk skirts to avant-garde accessories and apparel, from ’60s-era flared trousers and ’80s geometric patterns to metallic Space Age inspirations, this season’s collections deftly balance every imaginable style in a whirlwind of fads, fabrics and flourishes. Onwards, then, to the top looks of Spring / Summer 2019…
Turning the old adage that beige is boring completely on its head, chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci has completely transformed this once -blasé shade into the very cutting edge of refined haute couture this season. Deftly divided into three separate sections – casual, sophisticated and evening wear – these creations were craf ted solely with the modern woman in mind. From posh pencil pants and square-shouldered suit jackets to playful polka dots and bold animal prints, Tisci’s masterful deployment of textures, tones and fabrics will surely find favour with haute couture-minded madames the world over, no matter what the occasion.
In what was to be his final collection for Chanel, its late creative director Karl Lagerfeld transported his audience to the sun-dappled beachside. With a solid emphasis on flirtatious fun, his barefoot models pranced – sandals firmly in hand – down the catwalk in a flurry of ruffles, silky silhouettes and a plethora of patterns, with a hip handbag or two thrown in for good measure. The highlight of the show, though, was undoubtedly the svelte showcase of Chanel’s signature tweed in the form of suit jackets, gloves and overcoats, all cut in contemporary fashion and burnished in bold hues of pink, yellow and blue.
There seems to be no expiration date for some good old-fashioned ’60s hippie chic, at least as far as Chloé’s Natacha Ramsay-Levi is concer ned. Drawing inspiration from the rich cultural heritage of Morocco and Ibiza, her sophomore Spring / Summer collection for the maison pays tribute to the festival going fashionista of the Flower Power era with a rich catalogue of Boho-esque flared trousers, kaf tan gowns, figure-hugging jump suits, and ethnic-printed silk scarves and shirts. A veritable treasure trove of talismanic accessories – from tasselled earrings and rope belts to cuff bracelets and oversized pendant necklaces – rounds out the line’s refined New Age vibe.
Creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri explores the concept of freedom in a series of eye-popping creations inspired by the world of modern dance for Dior. Gone are the movement-restricting corsets and stiff fabrics that were the benchmarks of previous seasons. Instead, there’s a new element of playfulness, be it the sheer chiffons and tulles that allow an enticing glimpse of skin or the flowy, figure-hiding overcoats and sweaters that leave you wanting more. As a final flourish, ballerina-esque flats and leotard-inspired garments have been interwoven throughout, fulfilling Chiuri’s mission to “speak about dance with a different point of view, to speak about freedom”.
Embracing the urban concrete jungle in which we live, Fendi’s recently passed and much-mourned creative director Karl Lagerfeld turned it on its head, using a minimalist palette of sage, cognac, burgundy, tangerine and white to create a collection that is brilliant in its down to-earth appeal. Though ostensibly masculine in shape, the attires are deliberately softened by a touch of femininity through gathered patch pockets, ruched sleeves, feminine belts, floral prints and even bib collars. And while the dresses themselves are strictly utilitarian, the accessories – such as the legendary Baguette bag from the ’90s that makes a reappearance with sequin embellishments – give them an unmistakably signature Fendi flamboyance.
Building on her well-known penchant for creating entire collections around one singularly compelling individual, Givenchy creative director Clare Waight-Keller has once again plumbed the depths of historical archives to present a new line inspired by Annemarie Schwarzenbach, an early 20th-century bisexual Swiss journalist and photographer with a penchant for cross-dressing. On a mission to “collide the codes” of menswear and women’s apparel, she has embraced Schwarzenbach’s gender fluidity to the fullest, balancing the feminine – swishing floor-length gowns, shimmering tassels and crystal accents – with distinctly masculine tuxedo jackets, trenches and trousers. The verdict? A barrierbreaking success.
Eschewing the outré in favour of clean lines and light tones, French haute couture maison Hermès has wholly embraced the spirit of summer with an array of decidedly sporty creations. In place of the equine designs that dominated last season’s catwalks, this year’s focus is more in line with beach chic, with strappy sandals, peek-a-boo bralettes and shoulder-baring shirts all in play. As usual, the brand’s iconic orange hue was very much in evidence, whether accenting a hemline or dominating across a sailing coat. Of particular note, though, is the seamless transformation of Hermès’ sturdier leather designs into comfortable, breathable summery garments and accessories that still retain an aura of casual sophistication while taking ‘athleisure’ wear to new heights.