From Atelier Versace’s Athletic Couture to Schiaparelli’s food and table inspired Couture- A roundup of Couture Creations for spring/summer 2016

Lara Mansour   |   03-02-2016



The Dior woman explores another way of constructing fashion and asserts herself by wearing clothes in a new way. Volumes are freestyle, the Bar jacket changes appearance depending on whether it is worn closed or loose; the shoulder is sensual, bare. She is femininity in motion, and every movement conveys confidence.

Symbols and charms, chance and superstition define the collection’s world. They are worn embroidered on clothing, as a good luck charm or affixed to a necklace. Here is the bestiary beloved of Monsieur Dior, as well as his good luck tokens, for the designer was a superstitious man with absolute faith in his lucky star.

Knits stitched like lace, lily-of-the-valley embroidery assembled in such a way that it seems to transform into a panther motif, unexpected contrasts of texture and cut: behind the modernity of this collection’s new attitude lies all the virtuosity of the savoir-faire that lives inside the Maison’s Haute Couture and embroidery ateliers.


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Bertrand Guyon’s second couture collection focused on food and the table. He explained it was partly in response to the Paris terrorist attacks of last November that he was meditating on the subject. “It’s a return to things that are essential, the pleasure of having friends at home,” he said. But also, Elsa Schiaparelli quoted in her autobiography, Shocking Life:“Eating well gives a spectacular joy to life and contributes immensely to goodwill and happy companionship. It is of great importance to the morale.”

Lightness and transparency renew the verticality of the Schiaparelli style. Shocking pink silk cigaline stretches in cartridge pleating and plissé soleil. A breeze of hemp fringes echoes raw linen braiding. The sensuality of natural materials caressing the skin uncovers the underlying tension typical of the Schiaparelli allure. Gold-painted porcelain embroidery is crocheted in silk yarns. Savoir-faire and sensibility meld in rare concoctions. Multicoloured nappa leather is appliquéd and inserted to reveal a lavish dinner table. A biker jacket shows a poetic sun in shafts of wheat and raffia. And the designer’s famously scandalous lobster-print dress for Wallis Simpson was reimagined by Guyon as beaded embroidery on the bib front of a gown.

Jewellery is reinvented as an amuse-bouche: hearts pierced with shrimp, winged padlocks mounted with broken eggshells or iris’ elixir. T-bar pumps with 3D printed peas-in-a-pod heels feature a deconstructed face on the front. A wicker picnic basket is transformed into a Stamp clutch stamped with Elsa’s profile in enamel becoming a real Gala dinner invitation.


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There was an undertone of athletic couture and a focus on curves of a woman’s body. The body was seen as a projection to achieve personal goals rather than an emphasis on man-catching sexuality. The soundtrack pointed us towards this direction, with a narrative by musician Violet, speaking out about “feminine strength to overcome obstacles.”

White-on-white ergonomic lines were traced over rounded jackets and parkas, intersected by yellow or orange straps like harnesses. A white jumpsuit had an open and draped back, a harness of hand-embroidered micro paillettes holding the body. Panels of silicon gel gives the mood of performance, with dresses caged by cutouts, or draped dresses held and controlled by silicone bands.

Velvet backed by leather was cut by water jet for strict cages of great softness for draped dresses, with hand-embroidered crystals that trace the body. Hand-crocheted pieces were linked together by flocked chains and ropes of Swarovski crystal, as if the laces of a trainer. Bands of flat sequins suddenly bursted apart on a sleeveless dress as if shockwaves running across the body.

Transparent ergonomically embroidered bodies gave energy with different tones of black to a nearly sheer dress. Gowns and tuxedos were as if exploded, then held together with extravagant knots of Swarovski ropes. Donatella Versace said:“I believe women can be powerful and achieve their dreams while also having great elegance and beauty. This is a collection for all women who walk their own path.”


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It was an atmosphere of calm and serenity at the Grand Palais where the Chanel spring/summer 2016 haute couture collection was held.  It was quite the opposite to Karl Lagerfeld’s last show that replicated a hectic busy airport. Now the setting was a lush green lawn, a minimalist garden with water lily ponds, a slatted wood pavilion and blue skies.

The models meandered through this islet of greenery with hair coiled into chignons and cork platform two-tone shoes on their feet. Around their waists they had a smartphone pouch to match their outfit. “The starting point for this collection was the silhouette,” declared Lagerfeld. Playing with inverted volumes, he focused on short tweed jackets with oval sleeves, worn with long pencil skirts, or fitted jackets coupled with full skirts or flared culottes. With every passing look, the delicacy of the materials were illustrated on blouses, skirts and ethereal dresses. Chiffon was deftly worked into flat, “drum”, “peacock” or “January” pleats, while lamé organza was twisted into regular pleats.

The dreamy wedding look was a tufted hoodie, dress, and train that was made from wild cotton. For evening, flecks of gold were blended into the suiting. There was an incredible jacket and skirt made completely of gold and black geometric paillettes. For evening, strapless dresses or trousers with a train were complimented by painted capes with rhinestones, wide-cut boleros or embroidered jackets, and there were satin charmeuse dresses, backless or with a plunging décolleté. The ode to nature continued with a dress whose sleeves are embroidered with feathered bees, a countrified dress embroidered with little flowers and a sheath dress embroidered with wooden birds.

Finally, the bride appeared dressed in a dreamy geometric lace strapless dress embroidered with bursts of chiffon, leather, wood shavings, beads and rhinestones. She was kept warm by a hooded jacket with a train, all made from wild cotton.


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This season could be named the “mauve” season, as this shade was seen at many shows. It was the fundamental hue at the Giorgio Armani Prive ss16. The graceful collection seemingly defied gravity because of the weightless silks and delicate organzas that faded naturally to mauve.

Delicate jackets were adorned with ruffles, a leitmotif of the collection. Flounces emerged from shorts under jackets giving the illusion of constant movement or they emphasised dynamic cuts and volumes in a contemporary play of opposites. The organza vest, slightly pushed away from the body suggested momentum and freedom. It was as if the sea was stirred by the wind, wave-like embroideries appeared on skirts, trousers and tops. Even hairdos were sculpted waves.

There were transparent shorts and flounce-cuffed trousers, a range of camisoles and bustiers in experimental shapes, silk gauze and tulle tops, silk jacquard outfits, jacquard organza pieces, zip-front jackets, all in the same palette with Swarovski crystals adorned on most things. Armani only deviated from the mauve colour scheme when he added slick black sequins on a trapeze top and showcased a finale black dress.


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Building on delicate femininity, decadent elegance and masterful craftsmanship, Ralph & Russo’s new collection heralds spring and a refreshing promise of youth. All was dreamlike and weightless.  Billowing crêpe capes, airy bell sleeves and clouds of gazar sashayed down the catwalk. Tender ribbons of organza in powdery shades were pin-tucked into geometric waves, cascading over mighty corolla trains – light as butterfly wings.

Erogenous is the waist; a defined line with abundant volumes unfurled. Peplums, architectural and graphic, brought a modern definition to the quintessential hourglass of the 1950s, with corseted bustiers that created pin-up glamour; and sharpening silhouettes beneath sheer, diaphanous robes really stood out. Full-skirts with waspy waists and layering of materials exaggerated hourglass curves.  Padding around the hips formed a caricature curvaceous body shape.

Shoulders were aphrodisiacs gracefully bared by graphic and precise cut-outs in fluid kimonos. They were enveloped by infinitely fragile feather boleros. Organza petal appliqué glistened with crystal dewdrops amidst three-dimensional silk threadwork. Micro-paillettes underlayers shimmered through geometric cut-outs, recalling the iridescence of natural grey pearls. And crystal drops shower column dresses sparkled.

There were hand-painted peonies and tulips in sapphire, blush pink and lavender grey that flowed like wild grass in a continuous ink line with multiple densities, evoking Chinese ancestral calligraphy. Bold strokes that at times were encrusted like jewels, and at other times diffused like the summer mist.

High-low hemlines, off-the-shoulder floaty dresses and tops with fluted sleeves were prevalent. Ostrich feathers, spiderwebs of Chantilly lace in dreamcatcher dresses trickled over the body and spun to the floor. The collection had regal demeanour with a douceur de vivre in a sublimely subtle blend of tradition and modernity.


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Zuhair Murad’s latest collection was inspired by the period of Elizabeth I. The designer said: “I love the possibilities of corsets. You could say I wanted to put women in a gilded cage.” He focused on stately silhouettes. Muses gilded in sun-kissed cages. Panniers galore in jaunty horsehair walked in a flowering of artfully rounded volumes suggestive of virtuoso birdcages: structured curves of crinolines, basques and whalebone forming ethereal cage bars and dazzling, delicate openwork.

A cascade of 3-D floral embroideries (each petal sewn on individually) gracefully poured over dresses short and long. We adored a series of sexy, bouffant mini-dresses, über-chic tulip skirts, and architectural, show-stopping eveningwear with glamorous red-carpet trains.

Charming arbours and bowers of bliss formed a blaze of ornament; embroidery flourished over decorative metal that all loosely enfolded revealing a silhouette wreathed in gracious shades of rosewood and raw silk, lavender and celadon, glittering ash, crystal white, or vibrant vermillion.

A revelry of plunging backs and necklines, in spellbound asymmetry, amplified by abundance. Transparency exposed the beguiling enchantment of tulle, organza, silk gazar, crêpe de soie, lace, brocade, guipure and silk chiffon. And the grand finale was a breathtaking bridal gown. A regal vision with a 13-foot train and matching veil. Murad takes wedding attire seriously. His ateliers turn out five or six gowns per month.


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Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Picciolo have created a haute couture spring/summer 2016 collection of exotic early-20th-century Venetian-pagan romanticism. It celebrated femininity, the body and romantic tales and fantasy with barefoot nymphs with gold metal serpents writhing in their tresses.

The designers created a collection with a lyrical touch that live beyond the syncopated rhythms of fashion. The body, which is no longer the object but the subject, as a source of formal research, creates a subtle and individual beauty. The woman is the protagonist of the narration. Free in her gestures and in her thoughts. Barefoot, in order to find an earthly contact, which is the most realistic and personal form of inner balance.

Demure, floor-length dresses sparkle in transparency. There were also a few plunging Grecian neckline dresses. What really stood out was the fabric that made each dress a paradox of age-old hand-wrought elaborateness and youthful simplicity. A plethora of velvet pleated, knotted and woven dresses came to light in rich burgundy, burnt sienna and dark mossy green.

There are tattered touches on velvets, pleats exclusively handmade as if ready to melt away, patchwork composed of opulent weaving, animals and hand-painted volutes. The tactile richness derives from a collaboration with the textile archive Fortuny. Purified orientalism becomes precious Byzantine or explicit japonisme in kimono style coats, in carps and dragon patterns painted on long robes. The shapes are fluid, consistencies are impalpable: overlapping tunics, pleated velvet delphos, column dresses with intangible consistency. Lightness suggests movement, barely fixed by embroideries which overlap with patchwork and pleats. A patina made of a human and touching imperfection pervades all, in a harmony of delicate colours that thicken in tones of green, red, all the way to black. The ethereal image is spangled with statement jewellery by Alessandro Gaggio and Harumi Klossowski.


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Elie Saab’s new collection was inspired by the ethereal beauty and majestic wonders of India. Focusing on the turn-of-the-last-century when Englishwomen were on a trip to the subcontinent. The programme for the show read: “India is her backdrop and her inspiration for a new blend of formalism and ease, opulence and elementary lines.”

At the start there were adorned Wellies and studded creepers, lace-up combat boots, mini backpacks, and sturdy-looking belt bags—all in metallic leather. An echo of Edwardian silhouettes and Indian-inspired pieces took the front seat.

Edwardian-style high-neck dresses, a cropped jacket with a Nehru collar and softly tailored pants trailing a split train, beaded capelet gowns, thigh-length frocks with a sari-like sash thrown over one shoulder (in silver, ivory and rich blue) and a dazzling Indian wedding dress finished off the show spectacularly.


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Back in the late ’70s and ’80s there was once a famous nightclub in Paris called Le Palace. It was where you would find characters like Grace Jones and Yves Saint Laurent – where fashion, music and underground culture intersected in a mythical blend.

The story goes that fans of, musician, Grace Jones once ripped off all her clothes from her at this venue. She then had to wrap herself in a scarf handed over to her by the famous designer Yves Saint Laurent just before she took to the stage to perform. It was the heyday of raw, artisanal club culture where people cared more about what they heard and what they danced to rather than what they wore or how was watching them.

This was the inspiration for Jean Paul Gaultier’s haute couture spring/summer 2016. Models gave each other a confident, carefree stare and they jetted past each other, hitting high-fives in the air, sipping on champagne and smoking nonchalantly. The atmosphere was intoxicating and, once the ’80s-inspired couture clothing sashayed down the catwalk, we stepped right into the vision that Jean Paul Gaultier had successfully created.

There was a men’s smoking jacket sashed at the waist with a silk braid and tassels, a tuxedo of white marabou feathers worn with fishnets, a one-shoulder lace-edged cape covered in crystals, striped sequin robes, pinstripes, bleached denim, power suits, a sequin dress, an evening dress with a jean jacket and oriental inspirations on prints and dresses.


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Riccardo Tisci made 12 glamorous womenswear pieces. It’s quite unheard of to have such a small collection for a couture show however he’s made it work. Long floor length dresses draped over shoulders; some had cut-out panels that flashed skin, and others were worn with glittery evening capes. But they all ooze elegance and sophistication.

The alluring, provocative clothes literally sparkled with crystal details on tulle.  Patchworks of snakeskin and velvet merge with lace and leather. But Tisci’s showpieces wasn’t just about long dresses. He also got it so right with shimmering outerwear; a standout black cloak, over an elegant black dress, with lace, metallic studded details and patched leather. It was a romantic, enticing and strong piece to say the least.


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Al Ali highlighted two opposing cultures from different eras to provide a synthesis of historical form, technique and art. Taking inspiration from the iconic decorative Moorish artistry and manipulating the historic accents with masquerade inspired silhouettes, creating a juxtaposition of the two contrasting periods. Volume is key as layers of satin and brocade fabrics are formed together to create exaggerated tulles adding drama and mystery to the collection.

Embracing the masquerade essence, structured elements allowed the female silhouette to be showcased, befitting the Rami Al Ali’s signature feminine aesthetic. Tulip skirts are architecturally designed with a nod to the 1960s, whilst time-honoured techniques are incorporated to modernise the classic embroidery, which is seen throughout the collection. Floor length gowns are artfully cascaded in luxurious brocades and two-tone satins, effortlessly finished with gazar and gold lames.

Revealing a modern colour palette of shades of gold, taupe, coral and royal blue, resulting an overall freshness to the collection. Rami Al Ali’s unveiling couture collection exhibits how unique craftsmanship and historical inspiration can be combined through the art of couture.



Georges Hobeika couture collection for spring/summer 2016 is a glowing tribute to nature’s gift of regeneration, spreading its message of beauty across cultures and beyond borders. Floral patterns, bright embroideries, bouquets of sparkling crystals, delicately coloured sheaves, droplets of shiny pearls, plumes of glittering feathers and matte and glossy berries are highlighted, while all evolving into modern cuts of aerial and elegant dresses.

A honeycomb pattern of laser-cut lace or structured tulle reflects the savoir faire of the finest couture workshops, transcending the nobility of a long, evanescent figure. Flowing capes and trains exalt the absolute femininity of sculptural sheath dresses. The petals of a skirt compliment a trouser suit with the playfulness of a blooming bouquet. Works of authentic craftsmanship: accessories bring forth the feel of the countryside, while still incorporating an essence of glamour through shimmering and brilliantly enamelled jewels.

Subtly, the colour palette gains momentum in dialogue with gorgeous fabrics. Pink tulle covers almond green muslin in a mysterious veil; a purple gradient warms the shimmer of ice-blue; a cameo of peaches, apricots, tangerines and melons blends into a fruity and delicious chromatic symphony. Silk crepe, ziberline, lace and organza sumptuously translate a message of hope and the hidden secret behind this spring thistle flowering.