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Five Highlights From Paris Houte Couture Fashion Week

As Paris haute couture week ends today, we look at the five things we learned from the elite fashion extravaganza:

All hail Galliano

Genius is a word that gets thrown around in fashion like confetti at a wedding, but many who witnessed John Galliano’s two shows for Margiela over the past 12 days believed that, in his case, the feathered hat fits.

The British designer may never live down the notorious drunken anti-Semitic rant that cost him his job at Dior in 2011.

Yet fashion would be far less fantastical without him.

His haute couture collection using transformative fabrics which look completely different to the naked eye than through the lens of smartphone, was not just inspired use of cutting-edge tech, but deft commentary on seeing at the world through the lens of Instagram.


A model presents a creation by Maison Margiela during the men’s Fashion Week for the Fall/Winter 2018/2019 collection on January 19, 2018 in Paris. Photo credit: AFP/Patrick Kovarik

Karl’s beard

Even geniuses make mistakes. Just ask Karl Lagerfeld who is no doubt stroking his chin over whether he will persist with his new wispy white beard. Reaction to the Kaiser’s first major change in image in two decades was generally negative — and almost drowned out his very girly Chanel show. Vogue’s legendary critic Suzy Menkes did her best to soften the blow by referring to the growth as “an exciting facial accessory”.

A model presents a creation with Karl Lagerfeld’s godson Hudson Kroenig for Chanel during the 2018 spring/summer Haute Couture collection fashion show on January 23, 2018 in Paris. AFP/ Patrick Kovarik

Be careful who you quote

Dior under Maria Grazia Chiuri loves nothing better than a good slogan. She began her reign at the fabled label with her “We should all be feminists” T-shirt and by plastering “Christian Dior J’adore” on just about everything, from bras to sandal straps.

This week she wrote lines from Andre Breton’s “Surrealist Manifesto” across her models’ collar bones as part of a homage to Italian artist and proto-feminist Leonor Fini.

Which was unfortunate, as critics quickly pointed out, because Breton was a notorious misogynist who Fini abhorred for writing that “the problem of woman is the most marvellous and disturbing problem in all the world”.

A model presents a creation for Maria Grazia Chiuri during the 2018 spring/summer Haute Couture collection fashion show in January, 2018 in Paris. Photo credit: Instagram / Martina Paoletti

Don’t say it with flowers

Never write a note using the N-word and send it to someone who puts their entire life on Instagram. The Russian designer Ulyana Sergeenko learned that the hard way this week when she sent flowers to her friend the Moscow socialite Miroslava Duma when she arrived in Paris for the shows. Both women insisted it was meant as a term of endearment between friends, but the fashion world was not in a forgiving mood.


A screenshot of the note Ulyana Sergeenko sent to Miroslava Duma. Photo credit: Instagram/@bryanboycom

Life is black and white

While catwalks are more and more gender fluid with co-ed shows and androgynous and trans models, they could not have been more binary when it came to colour this week.

Black and white dominated from John Paul Gaultier’s two-tone tribute to Pierre Cardin to Dior’s surrealist checkerboards and Clare Waight Keller’s much-praised debut at Givenchy.

That couture fixture the femme fatale cut a black and silver swathe through the Azzaro, Alexandre Vaultier and Galia Lahav collections, with shoulders exaggerated 1980s-style to emphasise killer glamour.

Chanel and Valentino swam against the austere tide with a sweetshop assortment of sugary pinks and greens, while Viktor & Rolf also went for a bolder palette, giving their quirky creations an extra sheen by making the complete collection in satin duchesse.

A model presents a creation for Christian Dior during the 2018 spring/summer Haute Couture collection on January 22, 2018 in Paris. Photo credit: AFP/ Francois Guillot

***AFP / Fiachra Gibbons

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