Tuesday 22nd January

| BY Claudia Croft

Schiaparelli: Couture SS19

The Paris couture shows began this morning, with four days devoted to the top-of-triangle, made-to-order world of French fashion. Although relatively small in comparison to its much bigger ready-to-wear sister, couture is the royal stamp of the atelier: the recognition and reinterpretation of craft and tradition, made in the ateliers of the French capital. The first show, from one of the most storied houses was Schiaparelli; now designed by Bertrand Guyon. It was, said the press notes, an “astrological collection infused with horoscope signs, stars, the moon and the sun,”. Translated, this meant exquisite fabrics strewn with the above – a nod to Schiap’s fascination with the cosmos – the entree exit, was a duchesse satin tunic worn over voluminous shorts. The tunic came decorated with an 8-point star and attached with voile sleeves dotted with shiny bits.

Like shots from NASA’s best telescopes, faraway galaxies, appeared magically reinterpreted in the cloud-like tulle dresses and incredible beading work one look after the other. But then this is couture: a playground and workshop for the most elaborate ideas and creative thoughts. Nothing is impossible…. But – and it’s a big one – there will always be a “problem” with the old world of couture. And that is its inability to be relevant to any other occasion outside the ball, special function or red carpet. Only the designers, who are willing to expand the old couture remit, will speak to the new monied and global audience. The newest clients, who admire the looks of Instagram celebrities and supermodels, want a different couture look but the very same service. A catsuit as well as a ball gown. Or a couture catsuit made with added ball gown tulle. Modern couture designers like Guyon are listening to these demands.

His boxy satin shorts and huge tulle gowns; the brightly decorated and fitted jackets, hand sewn with beads, speak a new couture language for a new couture client with new couture shapes. The best of the old tradition is changing to meet demands. No longer as dictatorial as it once was; only outward looking designers like Guyon, will take this incredible craft onwards. It was a beautiful start to couture week.

Phtoographs courtesy of Jason Lloyd-Evans.