Fall 2012 Haute Couture Roundup

The fall 2012 haute couture shows took place earlier this month in Paris. Here’s a look at some of the more notable offerings from fashion’s most luxe catwalks.

Armani Privé focused on day-to-night dressing. As rendered here—voluminous, pleated trousers worn with soft organza jackets or matching puff-sleeved tops, shimmery cocktail dresses, constellation-strewn evening gowns and pretty, feminine flats in hues that recall both sunrise and midnight—it was a glorious proposition.

Karl Lagerfeld dubbed Chanel‘s fall couture collection New Vintage, which refers to its winning mix of classic Coco (the boxy tweed suit, the white camellia, the snood) and au courant details (sequined tracksuits, feathered coats, glittery stockings). The venue—Paris’s Grand Palais—also nodded to the past with an updated trompe-l’oeil mural based on Chanel’s original salon de couture.

Jean Paul Gaultier kept his audience waiting nearly 90 minutes before unveiling a Metropolis-meets-Confession-of-a-Child-of-the-Century themed show heavy on the menswear tailoring (particularly the tailcoat), flapper-inspired headgear, sumptuous fur chubbies, caged metal corsets and opulent, embellished evening capes.

Valentino duo Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo riffed on regal beauty and sensual severity in a collection rife with sheer chiffon gowns, brocade- or floral-appliqued coats, a suite of jumpsuits (one boasting 100,000 jet beads on the pants alone) and some beautifully spare dresses in rich shades of midnight blue, crimson, and aubergine.

It was vintage Versace as designer Donatella Versace revisited the Ritz Paris, home to many of her late brother Gianni’s Atelier Versace couture shows. With a chameleon-like backdrop that changed color to complement each look, Donatella unveiled her corseted creations, which featured both sexy mini sheaths and diaphanous gowns festooned with laminated, intricately patchworked tarot-card prints and mesh chain mail in bright jewel tones offset by pretty pastels and earthy neutrals. Big bro would be proud.

Givenchy‘s Riccardo Tisci married two disparate themes—the opulence of Italian gypsies and the severity of Sixties silhouettes culled from the Hubert de Givenchy-era archives—in gowns boasting laser-cut mink shrugs and intricate leather bodices, lavishly beaded pullovers and fringed leather capes.

Well, the wait to find out who’s replacing deposed designer John Galliano at the house of Christian Dior is finally over, and the scepter was taken up by none other than Raf Simons (himself recently deposed from Jil Sander). Simons made his Dior debut with the couture collection (no pressure!) and more than delivered the goods with a lovely outing that paid homage to Christian Dior himself (vis-à-vis thoroughly modern reinterpretations of Dior’s famous nipped-waist Bar jacket and New Look coats) alongside an equally modern take on the ball gown (which the designer lopped off at the hip and paired with silk cigarette pants). Just the thing for today’s stylish celeb (like Jennifer Lawrence, Marion Cotillard, Marisa Berenson, Isabelle Huppert, Charlotte Rampling, and Sharon Stone, all of whom graced the front row, along with nearly a dozen fellow designers, including Marc Jacobs, Alber Elbaz, Donatella Versace, Pierre Cardin, and Diane von Furstenberg). Nearly as dazzling as the fashion were the salon walls, which were carpeted for the occasion with a million live flowers in varying hues (white in one room, blue in another, yellow in the next, and so on). Well done, Raf!

This couture season also saw the debut of Russian designer (and street style It girl) Ulyana Sergeenko, who paid tribute to her homeland with beautifully cut, Kremlin-inspired military coats (some lined in fur), doll-like dresses, full skirts topped by fitted pom-pom trimmed sweaters and sweet-n-sexy rompers that lent a wonderfully faux-naif charm to the otherwise lavish offerings of couture week.

Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.

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July 20, 2012