Midsummer night's couture dream
Haute couture Paris 2013
Zuhair Murad Paris 2013 haute couture
A dreamlike garden theme had some of the world's top designers in its grip at Paris’ haute couture presentations this week.
Christian Dior's creations, the fruit of master atelier, Raf Simons, were paraded in a topiary-filled, bower-shaded dream of a garden, with models weaving between deep green leaves and naked branches.
Elfin hair, glittering lips and pale limbs set off the confections - layered, structured bustiers, asymmetric hemlines and swathes of light, airy, bright silk.
Valentino seemed to clad its models in Venetian garden ironmongery - lattice-like filigree and woven bands of silken, supple metalwork were brought to life with layers of organza and crepe piping.
It took 850 hours to embroider just one, magical jacket-and-skirt design. And, like nature, not a detail was out of place - this was precision work, to the final, coaxed furl.
At Chanel, structured shoulders, shine and, of course, trademark tweed clad models as they, too, wandered through a leafy forest.
But it was Karl Lagerfeld's lesbian brides who stole the show, the hand-holding lovers, swan-like with their plumes of white feathers, a sashaying, beautiful gay rights protest.
"I do not understand why people who live together cannot have the same security as those bourgeois who are married," Lagerfeld said after the show. "Two women getting married, I find that natural, and having two mothers is a good thing."
Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad followed feathery suit, a show-stopping white and gold number rather more Icarus than swan-like.
Jean Paul Gaultier set the crowd cooing when a lifted skirt revealed four Indian-themed little girls, wearing jewel-like frothy frocks. But the adults’ gypsy looks, autumnal palette and beehived hair was less exotically exquisite.
Chunky 70s platform boots were combined with feminine florals at Maison Martin Margiela, the mismatched looks topped with otherworldly, jarring black headpieces.
Iris Van Herpen, a favourite of Bjork and Lady Gaga, delivered a suitably boundary-pushing show, designs teeming with paper cut-like vents and details lifted from an underwater garden replete with coral fronds and sea anemone spikes. But as out there as some of the looks were, they were nevertheless more grounded in reality than some of Herpen's previous takes on couture.
Indeed, as artfully excessive as some of their artisanal magic is, most shows this week breathed an approachable, easy wearability. Yes, it was couture, but it was also a walk in the park - in fashion terms.