Couture! Couture!

Bonjour my fellow fashion loves! In preparation for my upcoming European travels next week, let’s talk European fashion! And there is nothing more true to Europe and fashion than haute couture!

Dior Haute Couture

What is haute couture, you ask? It is the crème de la crème of fashionable creativity. Haute, which actually translates from French, meaning “high” and couture meaning “sewing” together have grown into the meaning of “high fashion” today.  While couture if often associated with France, it was actually an Englishman, Charles Worth, who is referred to as the “father of haute couture” today. Worth relocated to Paris, France in the 1860’s and caught the eye of
one, Napoleon III’s wife, and from then on, made clothes specifically for her.

Haute couture dates back all the way to the 18th century and still today, generates more than $1 billion dollars each year in sales; however, roughly only 2,000 women around the world purchase couture and 60% of those women are American!

Dior Haute Couture 2009

So what is it about haute couture that makes every woman, especially in America, want to own a piece? Maybe it’s because couture means having the garment fit for you! Having a single garment hanging in your closet, tailored to your specific body, that took a couture house anywhere from 100-400 hours to produce, makes a fairly loud statement about your status in the world. Haute couture is extreme elegance, filled with grandiosity to the max and a dramatic finish to top it off.

Galliano for Dior Haute Couture Spring 2007

As couture design houses have to show their collections twice a year, we just finished seeing autumn/winter 2012 and it brought quite a few changes from the
past.  For years, the king of couture has been John Galliano, but after his slip of the tongue referring to the racist and anti-Semitic insults you most likely heard about over the news, he was released from Dior’s fashion house just days before fashion week in February.

Therefore, with the absence of Galliano, no one really knew what to expect from the top couture lines on the runway. Nevertheless, my favorite, house of Chanel, didn’t disappoint offering a stunning collection in which I can only describe as
“mournful, gothic, elegance” filled with feathers, lace, and retro shapes galore!

Chanel Haute Couture Fall 2012

Chanel Haute Couture Fall 2012

Coming in at a close second was Givenchy. Riccardo Tisci made his Givenchy girls appear as angels falling from grace and delicate swans too beautiful to touch. Delicate beading and nude colors were all over the runway for Givenchy and done just right.

Givenchy Haute Couture Fall 2012

Givenchy Haute Couture Fall 2012

Givenchy Haute Couture Fall 2012

Overall, haute couture is highly impractical, complete unaffordable to most women and often unwearable (we all don’t go off to red carpet events every evening), but what would girls like me dream about if not the best of the best? What is fashion all about after all? It’s about the enormous extravagance, extreme creativity, and endless hard work it takes in putting together a piece of art so beautiful and sometimes so fragile that it might be best only if viewed in a
museum next to the greats of Picasso or Kandinsky.

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Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

There is, at one point each year, a trend that appears, or in fact, re-appears again after a number of years, that I – let’s not say despise – but don’t possess the strongest feelings for.  This year, that look would be wide legged and bell bottomed denim.  Maybe my dislike for the season’s latest pant is because my mind automatically flashes back to my middle school days of poor dress, sporting tight bell bottoms I thought were so cool.  Be not mistaken, it is not that I find those particular cuts of pant to be ugly or even unfashionable, but is merely my sorrowful selfishness wishing I could pull the look off. 

Jason Wu

 

(L) Christian Dior (R) Derek Lam

As a 5’6”, apple body shape, I unfortunately did not inherit my mother’s “long as day” legs.  Therefore, adding excess fabric ,in terms of width, straight down from my non-existent hips does not make me appear long and lean but instead, short and frumpy.  Paired with my favorite gladiator sandal or comfortable flat and the look gets worse, adding the appearance of 10 extra pounds to my thighs and rear. Yikes!

I understand, quite well, how there are some trends, in which, are simply not made for everyone; however, I refuse to throw up the white flag and surrender before trying this problematic look, for me, on over and over again in front of my mirror, paired with every possible option to keep me from returning it from returning to the sad store, re-joining the rest of the other clothing orphans.

Designer, Stella McCartney

 

Olsen twins wearing the wide leg trouser well.

Voilà! In steps in my fashion dilemma savior – the heel!  While I did not inherit my mother’s long legs, I did get passed onto me my father’s weak ankles.  Its unfair how that seems to work out sometimes, isn’t it?  Needless to say, my type of heel isn’t typically the 5” skinny stiletto.  I am still trying to repress those awfully embarrassing memories of falling on my bum in public and constantly find myself, instead, bursting out laughing whenever they come to mind.  Learning what works best for me, wedges and chunky soled sandals have become friends of mine.  The beauty of the wedge is how it allows your weight to be more evenly distributed over the entire sole, giving a greater comfort level that you can appreciate and wear for longer periods of time (along with the added bonus of better stability and fewer cringing memories). Chunky heels and wedges have been all over the fashion runways in Paris, Milan, and New York from Yves Saint Laurent’s golden goddess-like wedges to Stella McCartney’s nature-esque wooden heel sandals.  Channel your personal style as to which one works best for you.

Yves Saint Laurent

As soon as I slipped some height-helping wedges on, my hated look took another perspective.  Now, my legs didn’t transform and look like Giselle’s (they’re not magical shoes, people); however, they helped better proportion the pants shape to my overall build.  It is little tricks like these that Stacey and Clinton try to show and teach their “fashion victims” on their popular show, What Not to Wear, and there are tricks out there for every body type.

While this trend remains to not be my favorite by far, I have found a way to make it work – all while adding in another “it” piece of the season.  To think a few years ago I winced at the idea of squeezing into a pair of skinny jeans and now I cannot fathom the idea of a day without them.  It is completely up to you whether or not you feel comfortable and choose to participate in any season’s given looks, but I urge you to explore, experiment, and create.  What is life without a few fashion risks anyways?  Fads and trends will come and go, yet style will forever cease to fade.