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Couture's romance with the animal kingdom

The spring-summer 2023 collections presented in Paris were mostly about animal energy and escapism

A model wears a creation as part of the Schiaparelli Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2023 collection presented in Paris, on 23 January. (AP)

By Manish Mishra

LAST PUBLISHED 30.01.2023  |  02:11 PM IST

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For Spring Summer 2023, couture houses couldn't resist showcasing the grandness of animals. 

For instance, Chanel's creative director Virginie Viard joined forces with artist Xavier Veilhan to recreate objects and sculptures inspired by the animalistic elements at Coco Chanel's iconic Paris apartment. 


In the press note, Viard said, “The whole embroidery universe of the collection is turned towards the animal world."

Also read: Indian couture walks the ramp in Paris

At Schiaparelli, creative director Daniel Roseberry reignited the house's spirit of surrealism by showcasing faux taxidermy ensembles, be it the leopard seen on Shalom Harlow, wolf on Naomi Campbell’s coat or the lion heads spotted on Irina Shayk and Kylie Jenner. On the other hand, Giambattista Valli showcased some sugary, poufy, floor-grazing dresses, and Rahul Mishra seduced the couture set with a sensually charged lineup of bodysuits and cocktail coats. 

Here are some of the key couture trends that emerged at the recently concluded Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week.  

Animal energy

From the Chanel Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2023 collection presented on 24 January. (AP)

At Chanel, Virginie Viard embroidered her short tweed suits and coat dresses with kittens, corgis, rabbits and swallows appliques. During the show, eleven monumental animals made of wood, cardboard and paper, created by Xavier Veilhan, hid models, and then opened to let them escape. “I like it when the marvellous bursts forth and the course of events is interrupted," she shared in the press note. This season, the classic Chanel lunch suit derived its codes from the female uniforms of parades and spectacles. There were top hat, bow tie, white gloves, laced boots, satin cape, pleated skirt, jackets double-breasted or with tails, tuxedo shirt, sequins, short shorts and petticoats—the quintessential components that are core of the brand.


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At Schiaparelli, besides the lion and leopard heads, what stood out were the artfully silhouetted pantsuits and the daringly cut tuxedo.

Cosmos chicness

A model walks the ramp in a Rahul Mishra creation at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week.

Inspired by the Sanskrit proverb, 'Aham Brahmasmi' (or 'I'm the cosmos'), Rahul Mishra sprinkled planetoids and stardusts on his lavish evening dresses, gowns, cocktail coats and bodysuits. The hand-embroidered garments featured exaggerated shoulder details, overlapping foliage formations, all elevated by sequins and fringes.

Historical nods

From the Christian Dior show in Paris on 23 January. (AFP)

Trust Maria Grazia Chiuri at Christian Dior to reconcile her conscious couture with the values of activism and inclusivity. She chanced upon an image of Josephine Baker (a civil right activist and Dior's client) performing in Dior couture in New York in 1951. Thoughtfully dedicating her spring haute couture to Baker, she sent out an array of shine-on, embellished shifts that resonated with the Jazz age-era flapper dresses. She restructured the Holy Grail, the 1947 Bar jacket, presenting it without the corset. Advocating a sense of freedom and movement, she edited the ball gowns, skirt suits and tuxedo coats with a pared-back approach to tailoring. A masterful use of velvet was evident. So was the haberdashery hint of boudoir dressing.

Escapism at Valli

From the Giambattista Valli show on 23 January. (AFP)

Viewing any Giambattista Valli show is like feasting one's eye on sugary snacks—it's mouth watering and consciousness altering. Escapism is his middle name and he's stayed true to his commitment to gifting women with fearless, fun and feminine dressing. Social media stars like Olivia Palermo attest to this genre of dressing, comprising generous amounts of tulle, sequins, poufs, bows and feathers.

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