Some Like it Haute

Paris couture week Spring/Summer 2015

The fashion year kicked off in dazzling style as three of Paris’s most innovative haute couturiers showcased their exceptional skills in collections breathtakingly embellished with Swarovski crystals: Yiqing Yin, the young but already leading exponent of pleating and draping; Alexandre Vaulthier, a master of embroidery; and Serkan Cura, unrivaled in the art of working with feathers.

Yiqing Yin 
Chinese-born and Paris-raised and based, Yiqing Yin infuses her work with a modern elegance achieved using the most exquisite fabrics. In her Spring/Summer 2015 collection, hypnotic accents provided by Swarovski crystals lift a monochrome palette. This translated into classic pieces with sumptuous detailing: a matt-gray belted pantsuit was balanced with sparkling silver panels of Crystal Mesh. The black cocktail ‘dress’ was reimagined as a sheer black bodysuit embellished with Transfer panels and Crystal Fine Mesh, over which a black tunic, folded at the hip in her signature manner, was artfully draped. Its Art Deco feel was echoed in another loose black top of silk nylon embedded with Swarovski Crystal Mesh, which moved on the body like liquid metal. In a departure from her subdued palette, Yiqing Yin edged up the beautiful fluidity of a petrol blue gown with subtle Crystal Mesh accents. 

Alexandre Vauthier 
The master of embroidery, Alexandre Vauthier flaunted his technical brilliance with a collection that was a tribute to “the emerald in all its glory”. He placed this arresting color at the heart of his presentation, using around 12,000 crystals custom-made for him by Swarovski in Emerald and Crystal colors. Lindsey Wixon glistened in a crystal-encrusted, knee-length pencil skirt, slashed through with sheer streaks. A cocktail dress fashioned from black and emerald crystals applied in flame shapes to sheer black chiffon proved a striking statement of power, while a slashed-to-the-thigh floor-length gown shimmered with all-over crystals. His pièce de résistance—an elegantly sexy floor-length gown with three-quarter-length sleeves—seemed to be crafted from gemstones, so tantalizing was the rich green and clear crystal embellishment that covered its entirety, echoed in a flirty sleeveless mini version that equally showed off his exceptional craftsmanship. An extraordinary display with an adroitly rock-n’-roll edge. 

Serkan Cura 
Considering his penchant for the careful craftsmanship involved in creating a corset, and his consummate skill in plumasserie (the art of designing using feathers), it’s no surprise to learn that Serkan Cura worked for four years at Jean Paul Gaultier’s atelier, honing the skills that now flourish under his eponymous label. Last year he helped create the high-glam, feather-bedecked costumes that rocked the Victoria’s Secret runway in London. For Spring/Summer 2015, the inspiration for his couture collection was Greek goddesses and mythological women, and it showcases incredible craftsmanship and creativity involving the use of around 150,000 crystals. Riffing on one particular theme, Cura used horizontal bands of fur separated by slithers of Swarovski Crystal Mesh, creating arresting combinations that are definitely not for the faint-hearted—a crop-top and maxi skirt; fur panties with matching booties; and fur panties with a jacket, for example. Meanwhile, sparkling white panties and a matching corset decorated with swooping sculptural shapes in glistening white crystals introduced a Grace Jones edge. A giddy combination of asymmetrical corset atop a half-tasseled, half-sheer, crystalline organza gown demonstrated the designer’s exceptional technique in a mind-blowing construction. The fantasy was complete with full-length feathered coats featuring skillfully applied floating crystals, resembling exotic birds. Was it a dream? It certainly felt like one.