Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Dior: a world of his own

Reports of the first Paris haute couture shows are coming in:

Today's Dior collection was based on the same conceit: clothes that appear girlishly light and frothy, but are in fact based on serious sartorial engineering.

So the torso of a leopard-print ballgown appeared to be wrapped gently around the waist, when in fact the apparent softness concealed a heavy-duty corset beneath; a voluminous opera coat, puffed up and proud as a perfect yorkshire pudding, was fashioned out of silk stiffened and printed to resemble crocodile skin. The art of pulling off dressmaking impossibilities with difficult fabrics is a tradition in haute couture, because it showcases the skill of the designer. Cristobal Balenciaga liked to work in heavy boiled wool because he knew no one else could fashion elegant silhouettes from this lumpish cloth.

But while Madame X wore unadorned black velvet, today's Dior outfits came in jewel-box brights, each encrusted so densely with embroidery that the catwalk resembled a box of giant jelly babies, brightly coloured and sugar-dipped. All the signature silhouettes of haute couture were featured: the cocoon-shaped coats, the mermaid-shaped dresses, the slender-sleeved peplum jackets. The parodic femininity of the tightly corsetted, impossibly long-limbed shapes was emphasised in the virtuoso make-up: feather eyelashes and diamante eyeliner, bringing together the aesthetics of the drag queen with the skill of the world's best make-up artists to stunning effect.

1 comment:

Phyllis said...

Oh for fun I just had to edit one sentence:

"The art of pulling off dressmaking impossibilities with difficult fabrics is a tradition in haute couture, because it showcases the skill of the workroom."

There is a great moment in "Signé Chanel" were Lagerfeld whips off a design (with a thick black marker no less) in something like 60 seconds and just hands it to his Première, and instructs her to produce a toile in 48 hours. And of course - she does!