In the comments section of Man Repeller’s recent couture piece, someone said: “[I suspect] fashion is slowly falling out of fashion.” You’re not wrong — but you’re not right, either. There are elements of the fashion psyche and appeal — the insidery-ness, the slow-burn anticipation, the electricity — that, to me, a fashion writer, aren’t what they used to be. It is perhaps why the rise of essentially non-fashion forces, like Supreme, are so feverishly popular at the moment. I recently had a phone call with a person who is very, very famous and very, very stylish. He told me that the coolest kids in the world don’t wear fashion anymore. They wear indistinguishable khakis and, like, white T-shirts. This made me feel as if my gray American Apparel crewneck, which I was wearing at the time, was too much.
It also seems ever less awesome to flex your spending limit, or lack thereof. That sort of thing has become more a form of entertainment, less a form of fashion acumen. I am guessing here, but I think that the wealthy, the legitimately wealthy, are putting their money towards things that are more personally satisfying than publicly splashy. An Instagram of someone with recognizable shoes and handbag, framed neatly while resting on the Poltrona Frau leather of a Global Express flying from Fabulous Point A to More Fabulous Point B, is not the most seductive thing.
But to the point about personal satisfaction: Within couture, fashion is still entirely fashionable — and kind of alchemical. If the public’s perception of fashion overall has morphed into a kind of reality TV gloss of showiness, that’s fine. The more private world of couture still values discretion, especially so if its clients are spending six figures on a dress. Even Céline Dion, who, since this year’s Met Gala, has become a somewhat unlikely industry obsession, just admitted that most of what she wears on stage in Las Vegas is couture. Who knew?! And obviously, with that example alone, couture is not subtle. But it is individual — handmade with jaw-dropping skill by vastly knowledgeable teams, conceived with the most ambitious and artistic strains of imagination, and so on. Couture is wow-factor embodied but without the intention of like counts. It has evolved, too, to become more “street” or “contemporary,” but simplicity or a lack of ornateness doesn’t mean there’s any less work behind a dress. Case in point: Couture is a paradigm where fashion will always be fashionable — it is, by design, near impossible to overly commercialize and expose. It is for the wearer. It is magic.
For the purposes of this caption, “HF” stands for two things. “Haute fourrure,” Fendi’s couture fur line, and “Holy fuck,” a descriptor of awe for said couture fur line from Fendi. “HF, look at Fendi’s HF!” All of these little sequins/scales are actually discs of shaved mink. Magic factor: a thousand.
Paris is burning… with love for a seriously good Chanel couture collection, which paid homage to not necessarily the romance of its home city, but certainly its cigarette-smoky allure. Magic factor: another thousand.
Of his couture collection, Pierpaolo Piccioli told Business of Fashion’s Tim Blanks: “People think of couture as something beautiful belonging to the past… I want to keep the rituals, but allow them to be for the future.” Here’s a very sporty, street-y example of that. I sent it to a friend who is looking for wedding dresses. She said, “If I could afford it, I’d order it in all white, for a Caribbean ceremony.” Magic factor: I don’t even know, I just love this dress.
Whoever handles tulle and diaphanous stuff at Maison Margiela needs an award. This trench is incredible. As was the face-in-tulle last season. Magic factor: real magic.
Ombré feathering, the palette of a hazy, Big Little Lies sunset: yes. Patchwork coat, an upgraded version of the kind of Calabasas cowgirl Maria Grazia Chiuri presented for Dior’s most recent Resort collection: yes. Magic factor: two solid yeses.
All photos via Vogue Runway.