It’s no secret that Haute Couture has a reputation of being stuffy. With its exorbitantly high prices and exclusivity, the crème de la crème of fashion is often made inaccessible and therefore irrelevant to even the most dedicated fashion fanatics. On top of that, the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode’s rigorous process for determining which houses are deemed worthy of presenting under the couture umbrella leaves many brands out of the fold. Still, these very reasons make couture one of the most exciting aspects of the industry. At the heart of the age-old tradition are the talented ateliers that are given the time (and budget) to push the limits of design. Sure, the hallowed halls of maisons like Chanel and Dior are the crown jewels each couture season; but there have always been creative outliers rebelling against the establishment with their daring innovation.
This A/W 22 couture season will see the bejewelled boucle jackets and silk grecian dresses we've come to expect joined by a roster of creative heavy-hitters that are sure to blow all expectations away, inadvertently leaving us to question what couture means today. While not officially couture collections, the festivities are bookended by ready-to-wear shows from Patou, Paco Rabanne, Alaïa, and everyone's favourite disruptors Vetements, who is closing out the week with a highly anticipated return to the runway thanks to fashion’s other Gvasalia, Guram. Though Valentino has opted to present Pierpaolo Piccolili's latest dreamy creations in Rome, there's no shortage of Italian couturiers in the City of Light including Giambattista Valli, Fendi, and Giorgio Armani Prive. Still, it's the out-of-the-box creations from the likes of Daniel Roseberry at Schiaparelli, John Galliano at Maison Margiela, and the revolving door of guest designers chosen by Paris' original l'enfant terrible Jean Paul Gaultier that should be on your radar. With 29 maisons presenting a slew of spectacles all week long, we've rounded up the shows you don't want to miss.
For many, Azzedine Alaïa was the last great courtier of the 21st century, and a rebel for challenging the traditional schedule. His body-con configurations and flair for the dramatic made him a client-favourite. It’s only fitting that his successor Pieter Mullier would be kicking things off this season with his third collection for the brand. A year since his debut, the Belgian designer has been lauded by critics for his faithful reimagining of the Tunisian legend’s design staples. While officially his S/S 23 collection, if his previous collections are any indication of what's to come, there is no reason he shouldn't be positioned along with Paris’ great couture houses.
As the first official couturier on the schedule, Schiaparelli’s creative director Daniel Roseberry has been shaking things up since his appointment in 2019. Not formally trained, the Texan fashion school dropout instead gained an enviable education overseeing the men’s and women’s collections at Thom Browne. Since he was tasked with reviving the maison founded by Elsa Schiaparelli nearly a century ago, he has expanded on her surrealist vision with silhouettes that boast exaggeration and an affinity for gold accessories that's made him a red carpet favourite.
When it comes to rebelling against the fashion establishment, Demna should always spring to mind. The Balenciaga creative director has been making waves since his days as co-founder of Vetements, with many viewing him as one of today’s most influential talents. With his affinity for graphic tees, and normcore aesthetics, his announcement that the maison would revive its couture salon last year was met with intrigue. The highly anticipated debut was praised as the Georgian designer reimagined the legendary couturier’s structural silhouettes. While the addition of blue jeans might have ruffled some traditionalists’ feathers, it left many questioning what couture means to modern audiences.
Jean Paul Gaultier
The OG bad-boy of Paris fashion, Jean Paul Gaultier has always been a rule breaker. Taking control of his legacy, the legendary couturier has opened up his atelier as a creative hub for a revolving cast of designers to reimagine the maison's codes. Following up Glenn Marten’s collection showcased in January is Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing. Known for his signature power-suiting, love of gold-tone hardware, and never being shy with crystal embellishment, we can't wait to see how he reinterprets sailor stripes and those infamous cone bras.
Closing out the week is none other than the ultimate disruptor of Parisian fashion Vetements. Thursday marks the brand's highly anticipated return to the runway since Guram Gvsalia took over from his brother as creative director. The last physical show the brand staged was in S/S 20, which was presented guerrilla style at a McDonalds on Champs Élysées, highlighting the tongue-in-cheek designs that have always defined the brand. With a love for ironic graphic tees and deconstructed denim, no matter what Gvsalia has in store, this latest outing is sure to turn all notions of couture on its head.