The City Of Lights Blazes At Paris Haute Couture

Haute couture’s star is shining brighter than ever. July had some of its finest 21st-century kids—Rodarte and Alexandre Vauthier—alongside 20th-century icon Schiaparelli blazing down the runway in a haze of sparkle.

Well, perhaps not quite in Rodarte’s case, since the Mulleavy sisters chose to arrange their models like so many flower-garlanded statues in Paris’s Cloître Port-Royal gardens. There were clouds of Gypsophila in glorious abundance, along with daintily painted daisies on hands, bunches of flowers on nails, and armfuls and earfuls of great big shiny golden blooms. Also in evidence were plenty of the ubiquitous Mulleavy ruffles in chiffon and lace, and that yellow and fuchsia feathered coat was a showstopper. However, the signature motif was an outsize metal bow, wound around waists and clipped into hair.

Vauthier, meanwhile, was a darker presence, showing power-shouldered 80s silhouettes in shades of black, as well as plenty of lustrous leg. Inside the Grand Palais, Bella Hadid held court in a jaw-dropping, navel-plunging, fully crystallized wrap-dress. Forget your go-to, go-with-anything, wardrobe-staple wrap—this black-belted gown had liquid lightning power, and then some. Elsewhere, lace-up boots and his signature mini-dresses came crystal-blitzed, jackets and hats were bejeweled with outsize crystal brooches, and clusters of crystals hung from ears and necks. So you won’t be surprised to find out that there were around 300,000 Swarovski stones—in Chrysolite, Violet, Fuchsia and Jet—sparkling under the runway’s magenta lights.

Hot-footing it over the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to the Place Vendôme, design director Bertand Guyon was in a lighter mood at Schiaparelli. Sunshine yellow, nude and white chiffon was pleated and ruffled and layered. Evening gloves were sheer. Embellishments were laid on with dazzling gypsy-peasant vibrancy. There were bowed waists here, too, however this time they came as crystallized appliqué. But hold the front page for the Crystal² mini-tunic. All eyes were on this masterpiece of fashion innovation as it shimmered into the room. Not only was the dress entirely made up of a glittering patchwork of Swarovski Crystal Fine Mesh in yellow, white and pink shades of gold, the pavé had—for the first time—been further adorned with 3D crystal embroidery. The boast is that there are over 4.7 million facets refracting the light from that dress. Having seen it, we believe it! 

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