Doll's Eye View: Paris Haute Couture Fall 2017

Literally translated, the word "couture" means dressmaking. Any made-to-order dress or gown is couture, but not all couture is "Haute Couture" exceptionally high level of dressmaking. It isn't just about fancy gowns or hefty price tags, this is a completely different type of garment from that which is produced for mass distribution.  And as with other forms of fashion, lifestyles impact what  couturiers produce for their clientele. As women have become more active, Haute Couture has become more simple.

Since its inception in 1865, Haute Couture is the product the super wealthy turns to for wardrobe choices. Couture fabrics are like fine works of art produced in small quantities by private, family owned mills. Master crafters are also employed hand embroider, apply beads or feathers onto the final garment while others produce coordinated shoes, hats and jewelry. But often, the women who could afford clothes costing upwards of $15,000 for a daywear dress to over $250,000 for a hand embroidered evening gown, had plenty of time for tending to their wardrobe and  attending  fittings. But times are a-changing.

Most women in affluent socio-economic communities now hold down full time jobs, or run their own companies. Such fast paced lifestyles means less time for the frivolity of "ladies who lunch." The stigma of wearing off the rack designer wear has dissipated. Most young women have no idea of the work and artistry that goes into a couture gown, nor do they care. Today, it's all about....the look and labels! As a result, there are very few "ambassadors" of the real Haute Couture. So there is no real reason for these clothes to exist. But Paris being Paris...the industry won't let HCdie. Instead, twice yearly,  it invites new designers to present their wares at an event once reserved for a handful of iconic couturiers. Today, designers come from all corners of the globe to celebrate Paris Couture Week. Some, like Italian born, Armani and Giambattista Valli, British duo Ralph & Russo, Lebanese Zuhair Murad, Georges Hobeika, and Elie Saab are now doing Haute Couture better than the French! But many of younger designers invited as guests during couture week, seem not to completely grasp the concept of couture. Much of what we saw was, well...ready to wear. And sadly, this season, many of our favorite labels showed either dreary grey frocks or predictable, almost stereotypical ball gowns. As a result, this season, my girls settled on only a few looks from the Haute Couture Fall/Winter 17 collections.

Star That You Are..
These are simple silhouettes zapped with the twinkle of delicate beadwork. They are dresses that may very well end up on red carpet events this fall! But even with all of the sparkle, my girls found ways to jazz up the looks a bit!

This is a dress made from a tube of stretch, semi-matte black sequins. I removed a bit of embroidery from a piece of vintage, beaded, black lace and tacked it onto the top for the "bra" top. I also added a bit more of this embroidery to the hemline, then added a few iridescent black beads  to the bra and to the hem. The rest of that trim is used as a shawl that Grace chose to toss over her shoulders.

I really don't really understand the Haute Couture connection with this wrap dress. And I doubt the woman who buys this will wear it without underwear. But it was simple to make and, after all, my girls love to shine! Instead of rhinestone studded sheer fabric, I chose a glitter tulle for both Nichelle's dress and shawl. Where the dress crisscrosses over the body, I added rhinestone stickers.

Christian Values
This summer, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs pays tribute to the legacy of Christian Dior with a tremendous exhibition. (We will dedicate a post on that exhibition in the near future.) A few couturiers also paid homage, with silhouettes reminiscent of the namesake's signature look: the "trapeze." This classic dress has a fitted bodice with full, flared skirt. This is a very pretty silhouette that lends itself to princess Barbie wear!
There were lots of ou's and ahs over this Grecian dress. Though it looks more summer than winter, my girls loved the softness of this look. The dress starts with a strapless fitted bodice with a drape of sheer fabric attached to a full, gathered skirt.

One Off
 Again, emphasis is on the shoulders, with one-shouldered dresses taking center stage.

We loved Ralph & Russo, finding it to be one of the few collections that had the mark of authentic Haute couture. That baby blue dress caught everybody's eye and is just the kind of challenge I was looking for. But it did make me cry. Making this dress meant getting out the muslin and draping it directly on the doll. And though I made another toile from the original drape, the bad surprise came when I transferred everything to fabric. The top came out better than I expected, but there is a major flaw in the skirt. I cut it on the bias thinking the skirt would fit better. Instead, the edges stretched as I ironed it which is why it is curling around the legs. When I have a bit of time, I'd like to try this again, cutting the skirt on the straight grain!!!

Glamour Girls
Me and the girls love old fashioned, 1930's silver screen fashion. We love the feathers, the fur touches, the glitz and the drama. But if you look closely, beyond the flash and dash of the glamour, you'll see that not everything here is HC.. Still, this was something my girls felt they could work work with.
For an Haute Couture catwalk show, we believe you should go big or go home, especially when it comes to accessories. After all, these are clothes for a queen! While Meagan loves white satin and white fur, she felt the original dress was a bit too.....ready to wear. It could at least have a little beading. In this case, we simply made a bodice using some pearl medallions (found in the wedding department of our favorite fabric store). Her coat is simply a cheap rabbit fur scarf we found last winter..

The original dress has the look Nadja was going for, but she felt Haute Couture, even in a modern context, is more than a leather corset and pleated trousers. We kept the (faux) fur neck muff, the leather corset and matching opera length gloves, but gave her a taffeta wrap skirt instead and added ropes of rhinestones.

Shine On
Silk satin sculpted into a fishtail gown, velvet with shiny edges generously poured over the body in a tent-like silhouette or a super simple evening length shift with gilded is the time to shimmer and shine!

But why look good when you can look great! It is, after all Haute Couture. You can start out with something simple, but when you finish, the look should be....grandiose! Stephani looks sensational in her Ralph & Russo but she didn't stop there. She borrowed the crystal polyester coat we did in an early post..."Flaky Pastry."

Text and doll photos are property of Fashion Doll Stylist (and should be credited as such) 2017. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you.

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