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Couture-informed pret shone at PFW

Designers at the Paris Fashion Week SS24 took a pragmatic approach to ready-to-wear

Kaia Gerber in a pristine white cutwork lattice mini dress opened the Valentino show at Paris Fashion Week SS24
Kaia Gerber in a pristine white cutwork lattice mini dress opened the Valentino show at Paris Fashion Week SS24

The Spring Summer 24 collections showcased at the recently concluded 
Paris Fashion Week were defined by simplicity and a return to maisons’ foundations. Valentino by Pierpaolo Piccioli extrapolated embroidery as structure, deriving the idea from the architectural mouldings synonymous with Italian Renaissance decor. Sala Bianca, the palatial Florentine venue where Valentino showcased his epochal 1968 white collection called “Sala Bianca 945” informed Piccioli's creations.

An atelier technique called  ‘L’altorilievo’ was employed to sculpt ornate motifs into three dimensions creating forms that frame the body. Kaia Gerber opened the show in a pristine white cutwork lattice mini dress. At Saint Laurent, Anthony Vaccarello drew inspiration from Amelia Earhart, Adrienne Bolland and other iconic women who owned domains once considered exclusively masculine like aviation and car racing.

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The new variations on the safari jacket and jumpsuits were among the key pieces whose utilitarian ease was contrasted with considered gestures like a belted waist. A prevalence of cotton and linen in earthy colours, from olive and maroon to sand and chalk evinced a natural slant, while sharp accessories - including leather gloves and high heels- added the refinement the house is known for. Here are the key trends which emerged:

Past meets present
At Givenchy, Matthew M Williams presented a split iteration of Givenchy’s most famous LBD partnered with an opera glove (seen on Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s). The dainty and feminine bow detailing on arms and busts of jackets and dresses brought to mind a piece worn by Hepburn for a 1963 Vogue shoot. At Saint Laurent, there was a palpable air of couture whimsy as Anthony Vaccarello reinterpreted classic Yves Saint Laurent couture pieces like the safari suit and sheer dresses.

Evening glamour
Designers’ collections scored high on glittery evening wear from chainmail warriors-like pieces at Rabanne to va va voom numbers at 
Isabel Marant and ceremonial clothing at Elie Saab. At Alexandre Vauthier, a brocade realised for couture was recontextualised in lurex with a hint of silk. Liquid-like glistening lamé made its presence felt in an evening outfit steeped in freewheeling weightlessness. Valentino's sheer and sparkly floor-length numbers exemplified the atelier's exactitude.

Also read: The timeless charm of closet chameleons

Bloom and botanical appliques and prints
The Valentino's show masterfully reimagined blooms and bird appliques in latticed dresses and gowns. At Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton in her final and emotionally charged showcase, honoured the English rose- a significant house insignia - printing it on dresses and also giving its shape to petal-like dresses. At Givenchy, bloom references were aplenty given Hubert de Givenchy's and Matthew M. Williams’ penchant for gardens. Rosettes were interlaced into asymmetrical dresses besides hand-painted floral prints which lent gravitas to fabrics.

Slip dresses galore
Nineties are having a moment with a plethora of strappy, slinky and form-flattering slip dresses seen at Louis Vuitton, Coperni and Givenchy. Another aspect of boudoir dressing was the corset detailing seen at Alexander McQueen, Coperni and Valentino.

Black tailoring
The funeral suit is having a moment with black tailoring seen at Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Akris, Valentino, Ann Demuelemeester, Alexandre Vauthier and Issey Miyake.

Draping techniques
Issey Miyake’s tube veils which were later extended into real veils brought back memories of the founder’s Spring 1998 collection. Satoshi Kondo experimented with high twist yarns which enveloped and caressed the bodies in unexpected ways. It was interesting to see a sari-like drape at Paco Rabbane and Loewe’s off shoulder draped dresses exemplified masterful draping and pleating techniques. 

Manish Mishra is a Delhi-based fashion writer and content creator.

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