Prêt-à-Porter this ain’t

Do you want drama? Do you want glamour? Do you want gorgeous, glazed-eyed celebrities sitting front row, dressed in looks straight off the runway, slinging their legs over each other every time the camera hones in on them? (Looking at you FoxYe.) Do you want fab, stinking rich, bouffanted ladies carrying tiny little dogs that probably sleep in cosy little beds far more expensive than your monthly rent? Do you want the highest fashions, created by the most revered houses in the biz? You do?! Me too! Good news: you’re in the right place.

This week saw Paris whipped up into its biannual Haute Couture frenzy by the fashion-loving aristocracy, who, when they weren’t holding court at the Ritz, quaffing champs and chain-smoking, were taking in the very highest à la mode creations by some of the most prestigious houses on the planet. Prêt-à-Porter? Don’t make me laugh. From Valentino’s brilliantly diverse casting, to celestial moments at Schiaparelli and Fendi, here’s everything you missed from the SS22 couture shows.

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It’s rare that the people making the clothes ever get much of a shout-out within fashion, with the adoration usually centred on the superstar face of the house. That is, except at Dior. Maria Grazia Chiuri has spent the last three years spotlighting and celebrating the female artists and artisans who inspire and actualise her collections, and unsurprisingly, SS22 was no different. This season, Grazia turned her attention to Mumbai’s Chanakya school of crafts, who she’s been working with since way back in the 90s at Fendi (fun fact: around the time she helped come up with the iconic Baguette bag). Enlisting artists Madhvi and Manu Parekh to create the ornate floor-to-ceiling tapestries that lined the showspace, the collection itself was pure Dior: with glittering, crystal-embellished slips and bodies, feminine tulle gowns painstakingly fringed with feathers, and crisp tailoring all playing their part. There’s good news for those in Paris now the couture craziness has died down, too – the Parekhs’ installation will remain on show at the Musée Rodin until the end of January. (Also watch a beautiful film giving insight as to the processes at Dior below).


Daniel Roseberry can do no wrong. The Texan designer with a penchant for double-denim finally got to hold his first ever IRL show this season, taking over Paris’s Petit Palais to showcase a show-stopping, celestial collection. Models Mariacarla Bosconi and house muse Maggie Maurer paced the cream carpeted space in gilded looks that saw them transformed into couture jellyfish, as ringed planets orbited their heads via ornate gold sculptures. Moulded bags, crafted in the image of human heads, and Pinnochio-like gilt noses also played their part. But though the offering itself was wild, wilder yet was the fact that iconic hun Pixie Lott and her mum sat front row, just a couple of seats along from Kanye and Julia. Couture is literally mad, and I love it. 


Hands up who had this on their fashion week bingo card! Chanel being opened by IRL royalty, namely Grace Kelly’s granddaughter Charlotte Casiraghi, atop a horse called Kuskus? Or how about Sébastien Tellier soundtracking the show with a huge jutting bassoon in hand? No? Weirdly, us neither! But when Kuskus had got his catwalk canter out of the way, what followed was quintessentially Chanel. Surrounded by the spinning wheels and graphic structures that dotted the surreal take on a showjumping arena (as realised by French artist and Chanel family member Xavier Veilhan), models including Jill Kortleve trotted around the space in slick, super modern pant suits, their wide trousers flaring as they walked, waists nipped in through the clean tailoring of their classic jackets. 


Couture by its very essence is custom-made, so it makes perfect sense that a wider range of bodies would take to the catwalk during Haute Couture week – but sadly, that’s rarely the case. This season marked a shift, however, as Pierpaolo Piccioli enlisted a number of models whose bodies went beyond the standard size 0 to walk in his latest Valentino show. With the show opened by cult runway queen Kristen McMenamy in black cocktail mini and slinky black stockings, the rest of the collection gave way to swathes of duchess silk and taffeta, as seen across signature asymmetric gowns with enormous skirts, as well as sensual column dresses complete with thigh-high slits. And there was also something for the boys, which is a rarity when it comes to couture, with models in semi-diaphanous shirts and louche sequined pants also among the line-up. 


Much like Daniel Roseberry, who blasted us off to Planet Schiaparelli this season, it seemed like Kim Jones has been spending more than a little time scrolling through the sci-fi section of Netflix in the lead up to getting stuck into his SS22 collection. In his latest outing for Fendi, the designer dropped an offering for our “otherworldly present”, looking to Ancient Rome and its perceived future, and sending a succession of celestial empresses out onto the runway. While mention of ‘futurism’ may call to mind industrialism, or the imagined relationship between man and machine, Jones’ vision was far more regal, as models in languid satin column dresses and asymmetric column gowns dotted with luminescent hematite embellishments swept the runway like ancient stone statues come to life. Or, as the show notes succinctly put it, “Ceremonial asceticism overlaid with astral fantasy”.

Click through the gallery above for more.