For several seasons now, Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci has enlisted Willy Vanderperre to shoot a portrait for his haute couture collection. In conceiving the Fall collection, Tisci drew from disparate references: a certain gypsy decadence combined with streamlined 1960s silhouettes. Tisci deliberately selected 10 black models plus one German shepherd.
Tisci’s tight collection of 10 looks is as impactful from the back – in some cases, more so – than the front. It is further confirmation of the intense level of detail and workmanship that goes into couture.
Here, Tisci is pushing leather to its limit with rows of tubular tassels, extreme fringes and laser cutting to resemble lace. At front, the bodice has been formed, almost like armour. The effect is regal in an otherworldly way.
Surface detailing on the pieces ranges from resin atop plated gold to beading covered in leather. One of the robes required more than 1,200 of handwork. As for the sunglasses, less than ten pairs were produced.
Master of diaphanous dresses, Elie Saab channeled an Ottoman theme this season, opening the collection with a grouping of beautifully beaded gowns in black. This suggested a departure for the designer who typically prefers a pearlier palette. (GONZALO FUENTES/REUTERS)
But then out came the soft blush dresses that looked as if dusted in gold leaf. While Saab never strays too far from a red carpet formula, he continues to refine and further embellish. (GONZALO FUENTES/REUTERS)
And for occasions that require just a little less volume, Saab presents the same level of luxury on two-piece suits; this one is covered in shimmery gold beading. Attention, Kate Middleton. (GONZALO FUENTES/REUTERS)
It was at Cannes, where Jean-Paul Gaultier was among the film festival judges, that he found his inspiration: the adaptation of Confession of a Child of the Century in which Pete Doherty plays a lovelorn Parisian circa 1830. The show kicked off with strict black suiting and shrunken tuxedo jackets – some in crocodile or with bustier fronts. (BENOIT TESSIER/REUTERS)
There also seemed to be a nod graphic 1920s style. This was expressed in the makeup (black-rimmed eyes, fire engine red lips) but more importantly, the plush fox fur toppers, fringed dresses and as seen here, a gold-plated brass cage fitted over a suit (just perfect for a Metropolis-themed soirée). (BENOIT TESSIER/REUTERS)
Gaultier’s bridal gown this season was a reworking of the classic bar jacket in a way that recalled Celine Dion’s Oscar backward ensemble from 1999. Fortunately, this dress did not suffer from such awkward tailoring, instead capping off a collection that shook up masculine-feminine codes with sexy sprezzatura. (Jacques Brinon/AP)
More and more, Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Picciolo seem to be achieving a stunning balance between fluid, modern silhouettes and unrivaled technique. Their tendency to get wrapped up in concept and the result – check out this sinuously pleated and sheer dress in pre-dawn blue – feels less belaboured. (GONZALO FUENTES/REUTERS)
They’re also conveying a lighter – though no less luxurious – spirit. With Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Canadian model Jessica Stam looking on, this jumpsuit confirmed that couture is defined by detail (600 hours of embellishment) rather than fairytale froufrou. (GONZALO FUENTES/REUTERS)
Consider this cape, which boasts silk from the 19th century and the dress with its 45 unique tones of silk thread. Couture may not be about the numbers – from manual labour to profit margins – but at prices comparable to an entry-level car, it’s worth appreciating the pieces like art. (GONZALO FUENTES/REUTERS)