Couture fashion is known for its intricate, made-to-measure details, distinctive construction, unparalleled design quality, and expensive fabrics, which is why it’s rarely, if ever, fodder for mass-produced trends (or fit to be worn outside a ballroom). However, at last week’s couture shows in Paris, Man Repeller’s editors couldn’t help but observe a thread of aesthetically pleasing practicality that ran through many of the collections–stylistic choices (hacks, even) that could conceivably come to life not only on red carpets, but also in everyday wardrobes. Is home-grown couture the next frontier of luxury fashion? To explore this question, we asked stylist and creative consultant Brie Welch to test-drive a few of the most notably replicable examples with outfits from her own closet. Scroll down to see how it went. —Harling
Style Hack #1: Don’t Fight Between Socks and Tights
The preponderance of white socks layered over white tights at Virginie Viard’s Chanel couture show reminded me of Wednesday Adams if she had a baby with Cher Horowitz–a combination I can easily get behind, not to mention far easier to approximate than the average couture masterpiece. While an opaque white tight might sound like a frightening proposition on its own, the addition of a folded white sock somehow makes it feel more “Upper West Side dame” than “Nurse Ratched.” In my own recreation, I swapped out the collared shirt for a men’s tank to tone down the girly-ness and make the outfit a little subtler for everyday walking-around-town purposes.
Style Hack #2: Embrace Head-to-Toe Lace
The floral lace creations at Givenchy were so romantic–like Grace Kelly on her wedding day, but enhanced by even more voluminous-cloud-embroidered-with-pearls-and-pansies-floating-down-the-aisle-vibes. I don’t have a white lace gown but I do have vintage white lace pants I picked up in Milan on a sale rack for $15, a knit tank with lace trim from Pretties, and a vintage macramé cardigan. Worn together, the ensemble tangentially captures the dreaminess of Claire Wright Keller’s lace-heavy confections but with a squarely pragmatic result. Bonus tip: an extra long strand of pearls makes for a great belt.
Style Hack #3: Redesign a Blazer Sans Tailor
Concocted largely of repurposed garments and up-cycled materials, Galliano’s collection for Margiela embodied the idea of “home-grown couture” from the moment of conception. It was proof that with a blazer, a belt, and a little imagination, couture is anyone’s for the creating. The trick is re-working and combining things you might not have before.
I put a men’s sharkskin green blazer on my left arm and sort of origami’d the right side under my other arm, cinched it all in with an Andersons belt, and tucked the loose sleeve in for a deconstructed effect. With a red Theory knit vest over a Céline button down, all tucked into a pair of Dries Van Noten knee-length silk shorts, I suddenly became a couture version of Oliver Twist!
Were there any other style hacks that caught your eye on the runways last week? Let’s discuss.