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Paris Fashion Week: The Best Haute Couture Spring 2020 and Fall Menswear 2020 Looks

Couture is a celebration of elegance and extravagance, theatricality and craftsmanship. But this season some of the grandest couture houses decided to do things a little differently, creating silhouettes that were more understated than you might expect – a reflection on this new decade we’re entering into. But while the mood may have been more restrained, the looks that paraded down the catwalk were no less breath-taking – I’ve covered a few of my favourite shows.

Dior

For Maria Grazia Chiuri’s latest Haute Couture collection at Dior, she turned to the question once posed by renowned feminist artist Judy Chicago: “What if women ruled the world?” Proclaimed in an embroidered banner by the artist herself behind the catwalk, the show was a classic coming together of the art and fashion worlds. Chiuri answered the question in her own way, with the clothes that she sent down the runway. Elegant and refined, there was none of the over-the-top theatrically that’s so often associated with couture. Instead there were fluid shapes in varying shades of gold, with flowing fringing and pleats that recalled Greek goddesses, paired with flat, Grecian-style sandals. This is what it would look like if the Dior woman ran the world – understated glamour at its finest.

Photographed by @Gersonliro X @fashiontomax


Elie Saab

In contrast to Dior’s simpler statement, this season’s couture collection was all about grandeur and opulence for Elie Saab. Inspired by Mexico and its rich visual culture, gowns flowed down the runway covered in embroidered motifs, with baroque swirls, lace florals and exquisite beading detail. There was theatricality in the form of frothy ruffles and extravagant, outsized silhouettes. Loyal Elie Saab followers will love the series of sculpted silk gown in jewel tones, as well as the show’s final look – a lavish wedding dress.

Photographed by @Gersonliro X @fashiontomax


Valentino

This collection marked a departure from the Valentino of recent years, with its voluminous gowns and feathers, replaced instead with a more streamlined, bolder look. “When we talk about couture, we talk about dreams,” said Pierpaolo Piccioli of the collection. “It’s about the freedom of expressing yourself.” That freedom was evident in this newer approach: filled with color and mixed patterns, with more linear and structured silhouettes. Piccioli likes to do things in his own way – and it always pays off.

Photographed by @Gersonliro X @fashiontomax


Alexandre Vauthier

Vauthier took his direction from the female form in its many diverse shapes for this couture collection. There was no one, unifying look – instead, a variety of shapes and styles: sharply tailored tuxedos and slinky party dresses, ruffled ballgowns and voluminous prom dresses. Incredible headdresses designed by Philip Treacy, with feathered crowns and red sparkly headpieces topped off Vauthier’s creations. There were plenty of Eighties references, with certain looks evoking the era’s disco queens. The collection was the perfect combination of whimsical, sexy and chic.

Photographed by @Stepanfilenko X @fashiontomax


Chanel

For Virginie Viard’s second haute couture show at the helm of Chanel, she decided to take a different direction. Gone were the outlandish catwalk sets, replaced instead by a simple garden with a fountain in the middle. The inspiration? The Abbey of Aubazine, the orphanage where Coco Chanel grew up after her mother died and her father could no longer look after her. The clothes reflected the more discreet setting, with minimal looks that felt effortlessly timeless. The signature tweed suits were there, woven with glitter for a touch of decadence, paired with little white socks and flat shoes bringing to mind Coco as a girl. The color palette was equally subdued, with varying shades of grey, black and white mixed with the slightest hint of color. It was about as restrained as couture gets – an appropriate statement for this new pared-back decade.

Fall 2020 Menswear

Before Haute Couture week Paris, the Fall Menswear shows kicked off the new season, bringing the finest designers together to showcase their latest creations. From historical references and classical tailoring to gender-fluid looks and futuristic new fabrics, I’ve rounded up some of my top picks from the shows.

Photographed by @Gersonliro X @fashiontomax


Louis Vuitton

For this collection, Virgil Abloh turned back time, drawing inspiration from “the history of the house”. With a set made up of oversized scissors and tools, taken from photographs of the craftspeople’s worktops, the show opened with a series of traditionally elegant looks, tailored suits paired with crisp shirts and well-shined shoes. But it wasn’t long until Abloh looked to turn that on its head, teaming slim cut suits with trainers, bomber jackets and hot pink accessories. The show closed with a series of eye-catching looks featuring cloud motifs adopted from surrealist paintings – sure to be all over social media in the coming weeks.

Photographed by @Gersonliro X @fashiontomax


Fendi

Opening with a series of powerful leather looks teamed with thick-soled boots, Silvia Venturini Fendi’s set the mood for her latest collection. “You have to become a warrior to live in these times. You have to fight for what you believe in,” she said of the show. Fusing the masculine and the feminine, Fendi created a whole new silhouette, where men wear crop tops and trousers that resemble column skirts. Further embracing the new, Fendi ended the show with a finale featuring three looks designed in collaboration with the Japanese designer Kunihiko Morinaga, who has pioneered the use of UV color-changing technology – on the catwalk the models paused to let UV lamps scan their bodies, turning their looks from white into yellow and vice versa. As Fendi herself summarised: “We should embrace the new rules, the new feeling, the new attitude.”

Photographed by @Gersonliro X @fashiontomax


Balmain

For Olivier Rousteing, this collection was a celebration of everything that made him – as he put it, “half Ethiopian, half Somalian and 100% Frenchman”. Fusing all of his cultures there were typical French motifs –marinière stripes, smoking jackets and wide-collar overcoats – alongside draped silk and crepe in neutral tones, bringing to life his African roots. Through prints featuring maps of the world, Rousteing reminded his audience that “we are just nomads, nomads of the world.” The show closed with a troupe of dancers that were energetic and moving – much like Rousteing’s collection.

Photographed by @Stepanfilenko X @fashiontomax


The photographs used in the article are provided by Fashion To Max, @fashiontomax – a production company and online magazine, which specializes on producing visual content for fashion and luxury industries, and covering most important fashion events.