Bringing couture down to earth was a definite movement in the autumn haute couture shows, but there was more than one approach to this apparent trend in Paris.

#SuzyCouture: Gaultier And Viktor & Rolf: Nature Knows Best-1

For example, Jean Paul Gaultier brought his familiar wit and whimsy to the rejection of animal fur. Meanwhile, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren studied ancient ways to create the colour black, and then dressed up rural history and pagan rituals.

The word ‘folk’ has been seeping into the autumn/winter collections, with Giorgio Armani using it to describe loose, full skirts, and Valentino jumping much deeper into the concept with headwear inspired by traditional costume.

Gaultier makes good impressions

Gaultier, who never does anything by halves, sprang like a tiger into a fur-free world, filling the runway with fakes.

“A duvet couture looks like a grey fox, but it is just an impression,” the designer announced in the show notes for the first outfit. It was followed by various optical illusions, including impressions of camel hair and zebra hide.

The advantage of flaunting fake was that it seemed witty and jolly, but not angry. I preferred Gaultier’s couture classics shown in contrast to his jokey ready-to-wear. But now that he has whittled his runway down to just two high-fashion collections, he seems to feel obliged to put everything in one basket.

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Yet there were many elegant outfits hidden under dunce caps and exotic hats, the furrier the better. His standout pieces were the calmest: a draped all-in-one trouser suit with a cream cape, probably attached. It melted over the body showing Gaultier’s mastery of cut and shape, which should have appeared more often amidst the furry jollity.

V&R work their magic

Viktor & Rolf, who last season sent out huge dresses with blown-up skirts acting as social-media message boards, took a very different line and words for autumn/winter. This time around it was ‘lab’ couture. The meaning was that the Dutch duo had worked with fabric experts in the Netherlands, especially Claudy Jongstra, to produce black textiles naturally using a technique dating back to the mediaeval period.

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The slightly spooky effect of the dark and witchy looks was increased when the designers introduced images of bats and butterflies.

“We started with the word ‘glamour’, spiritual glamour to be precise,” explained the duo. “Originally the word ‘glamour’ meant ‘spell’ or ‘magic’, and we were thinking about how positive action could transform the gloom that we all feel about the environment.”

The V&R method was to turn black clothes into colourful dresses, with felt by artist-alchemist Claudy Jongstra, who explained how this ‘burgundy black’ from mediaeval times holds the secret of natural dye that does not harm the environment.

The work of fashion designers can be described as ‘dramatic’ or ‘exciting’, but rarely ‘thoughtful’. It is Victor & Rolf who use fine minds to produce fine clothes.