Bags: building a perfect collection
Elie Saab Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2012-13
What is the point of Haute Couture? Essentially, to have something unique, designed by a talented individual and meticulously made by les petites mains. Having a haute couture outfit was a privilege for a selected few simply because their social status wouldn’t allow anything other than couture. That’s what Haute Couture was in the past.
Things have changed quite a bit since the times of Schiaparelli, Poirot and Coco Chanel, though, and now Haute Couture is something seen as fashion art, not something to put on every morning.
This is why I really did struggle through the latest Haute Couture week and a certain collection in particular. I really wanted (desperately needed) something more than an archival cigarette pant suit or an ill-fitted dress…
You see, my expectations of a Haute Couture collection is seeing a fairy tale, a dream, something incredibly special that makes us forget those suits and skirts we see enough of on a daily basis, and instead, just for a moment, imagine what it would be like to be a princess.
Elie Saab gave me this opportunity. I doubt there would be a woman who wouldn’t want to be wrapped in clouds of silk organza encrusted with sequins that look like myriads of tiny falling stars, highlight the natural glow of her skin in blush pink gold leafed jacquards, feel a touch of delicate Chantilly lace or a cooling velvety soft stream of floating silk fabric against her bare skin. It was the most sensual, beautiful and magical show of the week for me. The one I would definitely remember, for all the good reasons.
Photo source: elle.com, fashionising.com
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Gianfranco Ferre: at Dior and beyond
“Great couturier who knew how to create absolute chic with details that will remain a part of the history of fashion."
After establishing his own label, Ferre continues working on elaborate beautiful collections and becomes one of Italy’s most treasured fashion designers alongside Valentino and Armani.
In 1983 he joins the Domus Academy as founding Professor of the Department of Fashion Design.
In 1984 the first fragrance, Gianfranco Ferre, a powdery combination of floral and woody notes, is launched, followed by five other perfumes that accompany new women’s and men’s wear collections. Being true to his philosophy and an absolute perfectionist, Ferre designs each flacon himself.
That very same year the designer receives an offer to become an artistic director for the house of Dior. Ferre declines thinking of the time and attention needed for his own label that he is successfully growing.
On 22 July 1986 he shows his first Haute Couture collection in Rome. It includes 70 looks linked together by a harmony of classic colours: grey with white, red and black accents. Beautiful rich fabrics, embroidery, crystals, fur, crocodile skin – luxury without borders ruled by imagination and sculptural shapes. It was a triumph.
In spring 1989 LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault approaches Ferre again and this time, in May 1989, after spending an enormous amount of time in Dior archives, Gianfranco Ferre finally agrees to design for Dior. In many ways, his move to the French fashion house was, in a way, a scandal. French people struggled to see an Italian, however talented he was, as a new Dior designer. Until that very moment no foreign designer was allowed such a thing. In his interview, Pierre Bergé, the chairman of Yves St Laurent, observed: "I don't think opening the doors to a foreigner - and an Italian - is respecting the spirit of creativity in France."
As it turned out, Arnault couldn’t have chosen a better candidate to replace Mark Bohan. With his deep understanding of fashion history, the meaning of the Maison Dior as an integral part of national identity, caring attitude to details and love of all things luxurious and beautiful, Ferre was incredibly careful about his work for the house.
His muse at Dior was Eva Perón, who had been one of Dior's original customers.
Later Ferre himself wrote: “It was an adventure on which it was not very easy to embark, but that turned out to be extraordinary, for my professional and creative development no less than for my human and personal one.
The most prestigious maison de couture in France was a temple of rituals, traditions, codes of conduct and rules, perhaps unwritten but no less hard and fast, no less binding for all that.
For weeks I studied, analysed and “breathed” his style. And so I discovered affinities and analogies… that made it possible for me to meet the challenge – between my way of understanding and interpreting elegance and that of Monsieur Dior.
My adventure “chez Dior” proved to be an extraordinary opportunity for growth and fulfillment.”
His first Haute Couture collection that was shown in July 1989, just two months after Ferre’s arrival to Dior, won him Dé d'Or award for the best Paris collection of the year.
“The tailor of two cities” lived between Paris and Milan, on and off the plane, as the languages blended into a musical daydream and the cities became an endless source of inspiration – two mentalities, modern and sober Milanese pret-a-porter and deeply understood and appreciated luxury of Parisian fashion.
Weekend were often spent in Stresa, his home in lake Maggiore, near Milan. It was a house of an architect. Every single detail, every item, were placed in a special order to the point of absolute perfection: every item from his collection, every small box, every vase were placed in a strict symmetry.
Even the garden was immaculate designed according to the Lago Maggiore rules and looked after by a gardener. There was never a stray twig or grass. Just roses, dozens and dozens of them. The blooms were always cut off a few days before they would drop their petals on the ground, to avoid any mess.
Ferre remained at Dior until autumn 1996 when his contract ended by mutual agreement. His last Haute Couture collection for the house, Passion Indienne, was inspired by the most treasured memories of his life.
He returns to Milan and, after renovating a palazzo on the Via Ponaccio to become the company headquarters, continues producing new collections under his own name.
He died suddenly. On Sunday, 17 June 2007, in San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, after suffering a massive brain haemorrhage.
Photo source (top picture): Vanity Fair 1996