V&R Haute Couture

The High Gardens of Couture

There were flowers, mystical animals, gardens, marine creatures and plenty of magic in Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2018. These are the seven runway collections that stood out. 



The house of Schiaparelli opened the doors to its secret garden this couture season. The show started off with daywear and then progressed into a dance of beautiful, ethereal gowns. The models reminded us of birds of paradise. The collection is influenced by the Orient, with mythical creatures, capes and patterns being ever so present in the looks. Colours don’t stray away from the motifs of nature. There are a lot of white, crème, beige, brown, black, purple, green, yellow and the signature Schiaparelli shocking pink.

The feathers, plants and animal motifs take it further emphasising on this overall sense of flora fauna. The white gowns, at the end of the show, complete the trip to this divine place with sheer elegance and grace. This is the secret garden of Schiaparelli, where its mystical inhabitants live, work and play.

Iris Van Herpen

Nature, plants, marine life and air – these seemed to be the key motifs at this season’s Iris Van Herpen Haute Couture show; she called it “Ludi Naturae” which is Latin for Nature School. The looks oozed with the inspiration from the jellyfish, the fighter fish fins, and the gills of a mushroom which always have some of the most complex and intricate patterns – something Iris excels in re-imagining and executing. The plant references were especially evident in the installation of the air leaf sculptures of the Dutch artist, Peter Gentenaar, that were suspended from the ceiling of the show venue at Mineralogy and Geology Gallery in Paris.

The dresses are relatable, nevertheless just as complex as ever before. With some being short, while others – long that blew up at the hem. Silk organza, velvet, tulle, 3D printing and laser-cutting are what you’d normally expect from Iris Van Herpen. And she delivered, including a dress that required 260 hours of 3D printing in addition to the plethora of other techniques. One other detail to note was the models’ hair. The girls did not give off the human essence, but resembled some marine creatures. They looked as if they just walked out of the sea straight onto the catwalk. Each look was a masterpiece that felt like an extension of her being and not something she put on as an afterthought. This is Iris’ Ludi Naturae and we can confidently say that we have learnt a thing or two from her Nature School.  


Pierpaolo Piccoli took us back to the essentials of couture, the grand, the fabulous, the over-the-top; yet kept balanced, elegant and unforgettable. The collection featured grand headpieces, as if to present each model in an image of a flower. Intricate ruffles at the shoulders and the waist resembled the leaves that adorned its stem. Giant bows graced the models, adding the extra feminine touch while accentuating the figure.

With blasts of turquoise, bright red, pastel pink, pale coral, light mustard and violet – the colours created a gentle contrast. These gentle contradictions continued into textures, where silk met cashmere, and faille danced with wool. A touch of gold came in at a later stage of the collection to light up the night. At times, the show felt like a Shakespearean fantasy remade in a modern colour-blocked minimalist movement.

Christian Dior

From the moment you walked into the venue at the Dior’s tent at Musée Rodin, with white sculptures of human body parts and cages hanging from the ceiling, things screamed, “Surrealism”. Maria Grazia Chiuri chose black and white to work with while focusing on patterns, designs, and shapes; there were dominos, checkerboards, free flowing elements and illusive pleats that were etched onto the fabric and not creased.

To drive the point even further, the looks were mainly accessorised with gorgeous masks, created by the one and only Stephen Jones; some of those masks looked so surreal that people later wondered whether they were some Snapchat filters and not real accessories. There were occasional colours such as shades of brown, brass, yellow, green, red, blue, beige and grey, the latter was exceptionally showcased in a dress with an eye motif; however, they all complimented the main black and white story. This season is a great step in the right direction for Maria Grazia at the iconic French maison. 


The gardens of Versailles are brought to the Parisian Grand Palais; guests are seated around a fountain as if enjoying a day out in the Royal French Court. The looks feature a lot of pink, purple, green and white- the colours normally found on a flower. In fact, it seemed as if the models were the flowers that came to life, with nosegays attached prominently on their heads and short veils dripping down their faces. There are jackets with the structured rounded shoulders – a genius Karl innovation as one would describe it.

The seemingly light Chanel tweed and embroidery adorn the garments adding that extra touch of glamour and texture. There is some room for sparkle that is woven into the fabrics that elevates the garment. The dresses fall off shoulders without added weight to the overall ensemble. Through the flowers in all of their pastel glory and the shimmering stars that come out at night, Karl Lagerfeld wants the world to experience the French garden of Chanel. Bonne journée. 


Viktor & Rolf

For this season the Dutch duo set a new goal for themselves by choosing to use only one fabric – satin. It’s been several seasons that Viktor & Rolf has been bent on producing sustainable fashion and this season is no different. The duo is using less to produce more. Bows, interwoven patterns, flowers and frills are very prominent throughout this couture show.

The shoes are mostly flat and, as a result, divert your attention onto the rest of the ensemble. There are a few headpieces and masks featuring satin flowers. Models’ eye makeup features glitter applied in rectangles or the shapes of cross-sections of weaved fabrics. The challenge of this collection was to create something stunning out of one type of fabric and Viktor & Rolf take that challenge on with ease as every piece of Surreal Satin is an artwork in its own light.  


This is the first show for Clare Waight Keller, the new creative director at Givenchy. Not knowing what to expect, the world waited eagerly in suspense. The collection is predominantly black with a few other notes of white, coral, blues and gentle gradients. Additionally, there were oversized fichu collars that featured strict V-shape cuts; a lot of intricate lace, tulle, crystallised fringe and latex; yes, you read that correctly, latex. Naturally, you’d cringe at the idea of latex in Haute Couture, yet Givenchy manages to deliver it with exceptional beauty.

The peach coat, worn over a white laced ensemble, is out of this world. Furthermore, other notable highlights included a tulle gradient dress. It looked like an underwater coral reef, with peach graduating into a deep turquoise. Another highlight was a multicoloured skirt paired with a black turtleneck. The turtleneck featured an open-back cutout that is bound to draw a lot of attention, the good kind, of course. All in all, it seems that with the arrival of Clare Waight Keller, Givenchy is reincarnated into something even more beautiful than before. 

by Anton Rodionov