Despite the lack of physical audiences at last week’s Haute Couture Presentations in Paris, there was still plenty to covet in the brands’ sleek digital showcases. High voltage silhouettes and out-of-this-world fabrications are to be expected from couture collections, yet it was the parade of battle-worthy accessories that really commanded the room (or screen) this season. From footwear to jewellery, a penchant for strength over softness pervaded – a testament not only to fashion’s current mood but the greater global spirit.
But who, or what, are we fighting? Loungewear, perhaps. Couture has always been about selling a fantasy but the departure from comfort-driven design was certainly a refreshing change of pace. It could also be that a year of COVID-19 has demanded of us a kind of resilience, or toughness, like never before. Whatever the enemy, we’ll be prepared. If these combat-ready accoutrements teach us anything it’s that, sartorially speaking, we’re equipped to step back into the arena.
Artistic Director Daniel Roseberry set the tone early at Schiaparelli with his ab-laden ‘Bust’ tote bag, crafted from natural calfskin and hand-painted for added definition (paired with a matching mini dress, no less). Tooth-inspired earrings also featured throughout, alongside gilded brass trompe l’oeil rings that spiralled into infinite nails.
Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino models used height to their advantage, walking in towering metallic platforms, arms coated in statement-making leather gloves. Menswear also made its debut for the Maison, with stacked cocoa-coloured brogues and leather gloves complementing turtlenecks and precision tailored trench coats.
Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri cited the Visconti-Sforza tarot as her primary source of inspiration for this season’s offering, revealed in pearl-spiked crowns, medieval-adjacent boots and, cinematically, a white steed.
Iris van Herpen
A perpetual innovator and passionate advocate for sustainable design, van Herpen used fabric created from upcycled marine debris to bring her aptly titled Spring 21 collection, Roots of Rebirth, to life. Of note: the pleated shoes and the shape-shifting kinetic crowns, created in collaboration with artist Casey Curran.