Behind every dress or suit of Haute Couture there are thousands of hours of attention to detail, craftsmanship and craftsmanship. Season after season, across Paris, a multitude of ateliers spend hours upon hours shaping every single button, sewing precious feathers or adjusting the hems of custom-made gloves in order to translate the vision of the designers at the helm of traditional fashion houses into reality. historical buildings of the city. But now that the autumn winter 2021 Haute Couture season is very close, a question arises: what situation are these bastions of French fashion in?

Chanel Atelier

© Luc Braquet

Well – as much as it may surprise visas times – I’m pretty healthy. From fashion show calendar to production processes passing through the street style: although many segments of the fashion have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, smaller realities, such as haute couture ateliers, have managed to go ahead and work. This month, the typical calendar of January men’s fashion shows it may have been thinner than usual but the Couture season promises to bring almost all the big names in the sector down to the catwalk – alas the virtual one.

What will Fall Winter 2021 Haute Couture be like?

Obviously there are also some important absentees. Like Demna Gvasalia’s Balenciaga, for example. The first, and highly anticipated, Couture collection of the fashion rebel was scheduled for last July but has been postponed to the next. That said, there will equally be several interesting debuts to keep an eye on. On January 26, Alber Elbaz will launch his new AZ Factory label with a video. In an interview for WWD said: “This is how I was going to present it, even before Covid-19. This is the digital age ”.

Gigi Hadid for Jean Paul Gaultier Spring Couture 2020

© Courtesy Jean Paul Gaultier

Equally awaited is the Couture collection by Chitose Abe – founder of Sacai – for Jean Paul Gaultier, scheduled for July. When Gaultier announced that the Spring Summer 2020 Haute Couture show would also be his last, come on Twitter the legendary French designer reassured fans by telling them “to rest assured, that Haute Couture would continue, but with a new format”. Well, the idea is to have it reinterpreted from time to time by a guest designer. Finding out how Abe will reinterpret Gaultier’s exuberant and whimsical aesthetic through his signature deconstructed creations is exactly what makes Haute Couture Week highly unpredictable.

The most curious aspect, however, is that, currently, the most awaited shows are those of designers who propose a new and gritty definition of Haute Couture. An example above all? The debut of Kim Jones from Fendi. His appointment brings with it a whole series of innovations: it is the first time that Jones has made his debut in both women’s fashion and Haute Couture for a great maison but it is also the first time that Fendi’s Haute Couture has undergone a renewal so radical since Karl Lagerfeld took over the helm in 1965. Taken by Paolo Roversi, the teaser image posted on Instagram da Jones promises a sumptuous Fellini-inspired reinterpretation of Fendi’s classic glamor. It is exactly that kind of quote that can give the designer a new generation of fans and followers while satisfying the traditional clientele of the Roman fashion house.

Givenchy teaser capsules

© Courtesy of Givenchy

Then there is the wait for the debut Couture collection of Matthew M Williams for Givenchy, which will be presented by the end of the year. Before him, Clare Waight Keller had used Haute Couture to give expression to her flights of creative fantasy, probably limited by the commercial expectations placed on the prêt-à-porter line. But Williams’ radical relaunch of the maison’s image seems to suggest that he was given greater freedom. How will that tailoring translate? over and angular and details utilitarian of his first collection in the language of Couture remains to be seen but will undoubtedly be an unmissable event.

What do these changes reveal about current Haute Couture?

What is interesting about the Haute Couture Week that opens this month is not necessarily the precious details that adorn the looks that will parade in the halls of the hôtels particuliers of Paris but the way the current group of designers that generates interest in this niche segment of the system fashion will reinterpret it in a current way and in step with the times we are living.

Chanel spring summer 2020

© Courtesy Chanel

Both Jones and Williams have built their respective brands and their reputations on the concept of making clothes for a new prototype of luxury customer. Of course, the traditional high fashion clientele will always be there. But there is room to invite even a consumer more lover of a casual aesthetic, obsessed with drop and with an insatiable appetite for the latest novelty to integrate and show off immediately?

Or does the solution lie instead in trying to amalgamate these two different types? Now that a large slice of the world population spends their days in sweatpants and sweatshirts – because even the 0.1% able to spend thousands of Euros on a Couture garment now buys tracksuits and so on, only they are cashmere – seems to be the best time to question what the high fashion customer really desires. Jones has already proven himself to be a master of style high-low: just think of his latest collection for Dior Men, where Kenny Scharf’s quirky cartoon paintings were embroidered on bomber jackets with the savoir-faire meticulous from the best Couture ateliers.

In recent years, we have witnessed the radical restructuring of various sectors of the fashion system. And thanks to designers like Craig Green, Wales Bonner, Martine Rose and Jones, men’s fashion has become the most interesting showcase for the new generation of talents and stands as an example of the innovation of the fashion show format in a year in which the traditional presentation on the catwalk is no longer possible. So if the goal is to figure out how to keep the Couture client involved now that the direct experience of luxury – in person at a show – is out of the question, designers like Jones and Williams are a good place to start.

Dior men pre fall 2021

© Courtesy Dior

Will trust and loyalty be the driving force behind the experience of Haute Couture? Or will it be something more experimental, the desire to venture into a new territory and welcome brands that have no problem expanding their commercial structure by integrating more casual elements?

The answer will only come after this season’s Haute Couture shows. Whether this new designer guard triggers a complete redefinition of the nature of Haute Couture or ‘limits’ itself to modernization – after years of being in danger of becoming obsolete – an update is definitely needed. Fortunately, there is a name on the scene like that of Kim Jones, a designer with an innate talent for understanding where the wind of fashion is blowing and changing course accordingly. So, stay tuned to the ‘luxury’ channel: the change is already underway.

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