Another day in the City of Love: love of art, culture, fashion, and perfection. A fantasy has come to life in the Fall 21 Haute Couture collections.

Today we saw the incredible creativity of the following designers in their Fall 21 Haute Couture collections. Using their unique visions, they managed to take Haute Couture to new places, in which clothing becomes a means of expressing culture and identity.

Balenciaga

Known as the “King of Fashion,” Cristóbal Balenciaga was one of the foremost stars of the Haute Couture world. His creations serve as an inspiration for many designers, and his designs are often considered ahead of their time and uniquely timeless. Since his death, the Balenciaga brand has gone through different creative directors, but Demna Gvasalia has managed to combine his subversive style with the heritage of the fashion house to create an aesthetic that feels classic and elegant, but at the same time modern and avant-garde.

In January of this year, the firm announced its return to Haute Couture week, so this was a highly-anticipated collection. The news generated excitement and intrigue, with everyone wanting to see what Balenciaga by Demna Gvasalia would bring to world of Haute Couture. Today, we finally got the answer. Balenciaga’s Fall 21 Haute Couture collection pays tribute to founder Cristóbal Balenciaga, recreating his original Haute Couture salon. It also brought back traditional elements like garments with straight lines, while also playing with proportions and structure. The collection bears Demna Gvasalia’s irreverent touch, with streetwear, denim garments, and looks influenced by activewear, as well as the bags and clutches that complemented some of the outfits on the runway. The collection was a blissful marriage of both designers’ creativity. It gave us Haute Couture for a new generation.

The result was a spectacular collection that embodies the Balenciaga and the vision of Gvasalia. The trench coat with oversized sleeves from look 23 is a clear example of the brand’s more classic silhouettes; however, the wrapping effect of the piece created a swan-like silhouette, even though the garment itself was urban. Look 17 was another standout: a vibrant orange suit with vintage air but avant-garde, modern vibes. It is interesting how this minimalism is at the same time a nod to the brand’s original pieces, since these simple and clean lines have been part of the brand’s DNA since its inception. Balenciaga is celebrating the past through a fresh and modern point of view. This collection is the perfect commentary on what is happening in the world of fashion: a modern, urban interpretation of timeless style. This show was a perfect return to the world of Haute Couture on behalf of Balenciaga.

Viktor & Rolf

This iconoclastic Dutch duo has blurred the line between fashion and art. Their shows are more than just runways, they’re art performances. They literally turned works of art into clothing for their Fall 2015 Haute Couture collection. They even include elements of pop culture in their garments, such as in their Spring 2019 Haute Couture collection, which included messages that reinterpreted the phrase “ expressing oneself through clothing ”.

For its Fall 21 Haute Couture collection, the brand has decided to explore the irreverence of new generations. Entitled “The New Royals,” this collection is an explosion of campy elements that, instead of being kitsch, work well to create something beautiful. The garments ask us to look more closely, and Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren invite us to analyze the ways of our current world, where not everything is not what it seems. We saw tiaras made of synthetic materials that resembled jewels or natural textiles like raffia transformed into “fur.” The aesthetic is also combination of elements of “royal” culture, such as brocade prints inspired by the Elizabethan Era, silhouettes inspired by Marie Antoinette’s dresses, and phrases from current pop culture like “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen” from the song “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga. We saw pearls, brooches, floral embroidery, XL jewelry, bows, and a variety of textures that created a new aesthetic of excess and opulence. The pastel color palette gave an air of innocence and femininity to the garments, transporting us to a world of fairy tales. Viktor & Rolf have created an alternate universe in which fantasy comes to life.

The brand’s Fall 21 Haute Couture collection doesn’t necessarily contain garments that are “wearable” in day-to-day life. Rather, the clothing is magical and fantastical, like the mini dress with balloon sleeves, XL pearls, embroidered appliqués in shades of turquoise, pink, and lilac–a modern reinterpretation of the “Robe à la française.” Designs like the cape with raffia “fur” trim in shades of pink, orange and gold celebrates what Haute Couture is all about. We won’t be seeing this collection out on the streets, but it’s sure to set the tone for ready-to-wear garments.

Jean-Paul Gaultier

This French designer is known for collections that shock the world. An avid supporter of women’s liberation, Jean-Paul Gaultier aims to empower women and help them celebrate their sexuality. He creates sensual pieces with a disdain for the norms of society. It’s no wonder he’s earned the name the “enfant terrible of fashion.” In this Haute Couture collection, Gaultier decided to collaborate with the designer Chitose Abe from Sacai, a Japanese brand known for the deconstruction of garments. Both brands manage to break established canons to create collections that impress and captivate. Some may think that collaborations have gone too far, but the Haute Couture Fall 21 collection by Jean-Paul Gaultier shows us that collaboration can still have great results.

The result of this particular collaboration is a collection of spectacular pieces. It’s a symphony of punk looks that combine avant-garde Japanese design with French savoir faire. Each outfit came down a dark runway and then was illuminated, giving everything an aura of mystery. The looks were as if we took a raincoat and merged it with a tulle dress. There were shirtdresses with elements of tailored jacket and a dress made from deconstructed jeans attached to a denim jacket. It was a true mix and match of elements from Gaultier and Sacai. At first, one might think this combination wouldn’t work, but the result forces us to consider why it hadn’t happened sooner. There are no words to express how perfect this collection is.

This collaboration achieves the perfect balance between the two brands. A clear example is the gabardine dress with classic Gaultier elements such as a bustier with conical breasts combined with Sacai’s reuse and replacement of the elements of a classic trench. Another look that stood out is the one where the upper part looks like a jacket but is actually part of a dress with an oversized skirt, a silhouette characteristic of this Japanese brand. Another sensational look was Gaultier’s iconic navy pinstripe suit, reinterpreted and transformed into a layered dress with transparencies over a bodysuit, giving the appearance of tattooed skin on the model. This casual, punk aesthetic is exciting, especially for an Haute Couture collection. It’s what fashion should be: passion and pure creativity.

Zuhair Murad

This Lebanese designer is known for his ability to transform the world of luxury and glamour into spectacular, striking dresses that make the women who wear them feel beautiful. Each of his poetic collections is full of opulence. Through his clothing, Zuhair Murad invites us to dream of magical worlds where life is perfect. The designer has become a testament to hard work and resilience. Just last year, he lost his atelier in Beirut due to a tragic accident, but he has still continued to create enchanting garments that make us happy.

His Fall 21 Haute Couture collection follows the same line of design as many of his previous ones. Taffeta, silk, and lace were infused with intricate embroidery and crystals to make gowns that seemed to light up. Inspired by the mythical city of Venice, each of these sheer dresses made the models look like they were floating down the runway. The color palette went from stark white to deep black with metallic gold and silver hues and a hint of jewel tones such as emerald green,  ruby ​​red, and sapphire blue.  It was a carnival of luxury and beauty, and the theme was rebirth and the joy of being alive.

The first look started things off right: a wrap dress with transparent, flowing sleeves and embroidered crystals that was cinched at the waist with a belt to create a more defined silhouette. Another piece that caught my attention and is already on my wish list was the silver dress with a cape. The upper part created the illusion that the crystals embroidered on the dress were actually on the model’s body. Each garment we saw today turned the models into rays of light, thanks to the sparkling crystals of these dresses. Zuhair Murad has once again given us a collection full of dresses worthy of any red carpet. They are garments that, thanks to their impeccable tailoring and incredible attention to detail, become an extension of the woman who wears them. 

XO

Sira

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