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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

#SuzyCouture: Gaultier Goes Green, Viktor & Rolf Recycle

Haute couture steps aside from city grandeur to put nature centre stage

20 Июля 2016

Jean Paul Gaultier’s Autumn/Winter 2016-17 collection was inspired by a Japanese forest
Jean Paul Gaultier’s Autumn/Winter 2016-17 collection was inspired by a Japanese forest

Jean Paul Gaultier: Friend of the forest 

A wooden runway, rich with russet timber, patterned with marquetry, lined the catwalk. At Jean Paul Gaultier? 

Over more than 35 years, the designer has been the fashion king of urban cool. I have seen him inspired by diverse landscapes, but the shows have always been about people. For this Autumn/Winter Couture season —which is the only fashion line he now makes — Jean Paul was fascinated by a Japanese forest and that country’s quiet contemplation of nature.

This spirit inspired him to use woodcut patterns on dresses and to create mossy, forest-floor colours and textures in leather, satin or fur. Using the effect of woodland bird feathers as halo hats and velvet with the texture of lichen, the forest was turned into something mysteriously beautiful through haute couture skills.

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There were, of course, plenty of diversions, like Anna Cleveland following in her model mother’s tiny footsteps, the better to display a dress that unfolded like an eagle’s wings. Every aspect of design was used, including a crochet dress in an Aurora Borealis of shades that seemed like an ode to Autumn.

This embrace of nature and a contemplative look to his work came at a good time for Gaultier, who had seemed to be offering couture as larky ready-to-wear. This show did justice to his hand workers — and his imaginative vision.

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Model Anna Cleveland is the daughter of Seventies model and Salvador Dali muse, Pat Cleveland

Model Anna Cleveland is the daughter of Seventies model and Salvador Dali muse, Pat Cleveland


Viktor & Rolf: Haute vagabonds 

“It's all — every little bit - from our own archives,” chorused Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, as if the audience might have found it hard to believe that the tags, bows and scissored chiffon made into puff-ball tops above jeans, also decorated, could really have been made only from fabrics and objects garnered from their backroom studios. 

The urge to encourage re-cycling in couture standing up to the ugly face of fast fashion, is having a revival in Paris couture — a theme that I believe reflects the interest in and influence of Martin Margiela in the 1990s. 

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But Viktor & Rolf did it their way - and it could not have been more appealing. Leaving behind their “conceptual” collections, including the Autumn/Winter 2015 season’s intriguing offering of fashion in picture frames, these were clothes that seemed youthful and fun. The duo called them “vagabonds”, as if for street urchins from the novels of Victorian author Charles Dickens. 

The thoughtful design duo would never have turned to frivolity, but there was something light-hearted, as well as physically light, when models in voluminous top halves, wearing a mesh of crinoline or paper top hats, crisscrossed the runway. 

This perpetual movement brought the clothes close to the audience, the better to see the density of decoration, which seemed to include everything from decorative rags to twinkling Swarovski crystals.

I have seen many make-do-and-mend fashion looks over the years and remnant dressing even in haute couture. But never anything as convincing and charming as this Viktor & Rolf offering re-worked from backstage.

Designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren
Designers Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren

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