Fall 2018 Couture’s Most “Gala” and Amusing Trends
New creative energy at fashion houses both venerable and emerging means haute couture has a new audience. Here, the leading looks from Paris’ fall Couture Week as seen by our hyper-stylized, hyper-fictional correspondent Speranza Wilde.
Photograph by Tim Chapman for Newsmakers via Getty Images.
By now you have surely read in the papers about couture’s most urgent trend: the New Flamingo Look. At Armani Privé, wild fuchsia ostrich plumes, layered like the morning clouds that form around certain Chilean flamingo lagoons, were shown over a pair of diamanté-crusted tulle trousers. At Valentino, dense, pale-pink marabou blanketed glorious ostrich fronds. At Schiaparelli, actual flamingos: a regiment of the exotic birds sewn onto a cashmere coat cape, and a Stephen Jones mask featuring two of these avian extravagances embracing as a crown. As a minor Bavarian prince once told me during a canoe renewal ceremony at the Villa Nellcôte, “The flamingo’s elegance comes from its one-legged stance, for which there is no proven scientific reason. Remember this the next time you must reject a man and he asks you, Why?”
More on Armani Privé; often an intellectually stout scenario, this season was an unusually gala one. As the house said, it’s an almost regal style. It is not aristocracy at its full blossom, but in its bud—like the debutante gazing at one of Europe’s great chandeliers, waiting for the next big idea in transparency.
Any new season of fashion conjures urgent inquiries about the state of women’s hair. At Alexandre Vauthier, a low ponytail was shown under a flat-brim hat with a shallow crown. Do not lose track of this look—we must not forget how marvelous a sleek, low ponytail is. Picture your slender borzoi, Harvey, taking his annual thermal bath in Baden-Baden.
And now, to our seasonal Bow Report. The bow sloughs its precious shackles, no longer an adorable pet or adornment but an absolute abstract and clarified form of the near-Brancusian variety. We see this at Giambattista Valli as bustiers and belts. We see this at Givenchy, where Clare Waight Keller twisted the front of a wrap like the sleeves of an electrocuted skateboarder’s sweatshirt. The new, sleek bow is a revelation; but the new, sleek bow only has answers for those who do not question its prophecy. I implore you: Do not question the new, sleek bow.
At Chanel, we witnessed the transmogrification of the zipper.
But once again, I must stress the significance of the nape-grazing ponytail. On the other hand, the outrageous and colossal tease of hair by Guido Palau at Valentino is extremely important, and should not be ignored.
Speaking of soaring new heights, couture presented a new reality in capes. What was once expected to keep Voltaire warm is now being trusted at Givenchy to command power and at Valentino to create the harmony I frankly have only otherwise experienced while visiting Sir Edmund Hillary’s childhood honey farm.
If you are buying just one swakara lamb fur coat with webbed embroidered rosette inserts in poised taupe this season, make it Fendi’s.
I repeat, again, the importance of the low ponytail with a hat that has a wide, flat brim and a shallow crown. Do not allow yourself to forget this.
Finally, the accessories milieu is firmly prepared to meet the anxieties of the era. Iris van Herpen is ever soothing us with her 3-D-printed dazzlers; Maison Margiela is impressing us with phone clips for shoes. Yes, John Galliano’s atelier is shrewdly logged into our obsession with screens, but as he said on his most delightful podcast, it is volume in fabric—the lack, the excess—that carries fashion forward. The best designers are the ones who control its weight. Of course, you’ll remember what Brancusi, king of our bows, once said: “Command like a king; create like a god.”