Couture SS21 Review

By Shalaka Vaze


During the recent SS21 Couture week, the fashion houses gave us fantastical displays for the most part, from the tarot inspired characters at Dior, to the contrast between masculine and feminine silhouettes at Schiaparelli. Whilst at first, I was drawn in by the dream, the collection that had the best impact in my opinion was from Pierpaulo Piccioli at Valentino.


Valentino kept a brilliant balance between timeless and wearable classics in neutral tones and the bright fuchsias and chartreuses popping out from underneath the outerwear. It suggested a return to vibrancy in life after Biden’s inauguration and as coronavirus begins to ease with the introduction of vaccines, after Piccioli’s previous all-white haute couture collection in the midst of the pandemic. After all, couture is all about high quality made-to-measure clothing – it doesn’t have to be extravagant in order to sell, or to please fashion enthusiasts. Still, Piccioli did not disappoint those who do turn to couture for escapism as the show also featured heavily sequined ballgowns and laser-cut fabrics which brilliantly showcased the craftsmanship that couture is dependent on.

Image source: https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows


At Chanel, Virginie Viard paired work-appropriate boxy shirts and double-breasted vests with big, ruffled skirts which instantly reminded me of a rather more dress-up version of mismatched Zoom call outfits, in other words the ever-so favoured work shirts and pyjama bottoms. Inspired by Southern French weddings, I found the bohemian skirts, although beautiful and ‘on-theme’, to be a trend-based design more appropriate for ready-to-wear rather than the timelessness couture represents. The more classic pieces did seem to evoke more of Chanel’s heritage signatures; tweed suits tailored to the mid-waist in frosty mints and pinks as well as little black party dresses.


Image source: https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows


Christian Dior’s strong belief in superstition was reflected in Maria Grazia Chiuri’s tarot themed film – Dior would have a tarot reading done before every fashion show and the magic of this was well-captured from the use of film as the medium rather than a traditional fashion show. Each character represented a different card from a tarot set made for the 15thC Duke of Milan, from the fool with applique in playful colours on the skirt, to the tailored jacquard trousers of the hanging man and the royal capes worn by the high priestess. Classic Dior items such as the bar jacket and pleated chiffon dresses also featured, but the one thing about Chiuri’s couture shows that I always look forward to is seeing all the gowns that are covered in handcrafted, very whimsical yet realistic blossoms.


Image source: https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows


Every outfit was big, bold and bright at Schiaparelli; creative director Daniel Roseberry had actually given us a sneak peak of this couture collection about a month ago when Kim Kardashian wore a jade green version of the moulded six-pack leather bodice for Christmas. For the first outfit of the couture show, it seemed as though Roseberry was referencing Yves Saint Laurent’s 1983 larger-than-life bright pink bow on a streamlined black dress, with the rest of the outfits being either overtly masculine or camp. I think pairing two juxtaposing themes is a risk that has paid off for Roseberry in terms of style. However, it is interesting to note that the six-pack bodices were exclusively worn by Black models, whereas other models were given more feminine looks. It is not clear if this is intentional – but now more than ever design houses must think about what connotations their creative choices may make. Black women have written about and spoken out against the perceived masculinity they have faced historically, and about its effect on their mental health.


Image source: https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows


Finally, Kim Jones’ debut couture collection for Fendi featured womenswear for the first time in his career. Whilst there was certainly hype around the famous faces in the show, the moody colours and signature fur seemed more appropriate for Autumn-Winter collections. Although inspired by Charleston House in Sussex, near where Jones grew up, I thought Jones succeeded in creating an Italian romance with his sateen gowns and marble-printed fabrics. I did enjoy the ingenuity of Jones pairing a half-blazer with a half-off shoulder evening gown on Adwoa Aboah – perhaps a reference to his more menswear focused days.



Image source: https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows



51 views