Fashion Week’s Fall 2016 Haute Couture presentations that took place in Paris, Rome, and Naples last week evoked much more than a sense of creativity and unattainable desire in our hearts this season. The regal collections also inspired a sense of romance and nostalgia that came through in the form of empire waistlines, ‘40s-style suiting, and elegant pleating – only a few looks that were among the throwback trends to make a return this season, along with time-tested techniques like lacework, feathers, gold threading, and elaborate floral embellishments.
A new interest in denim offered a breath of fresh in air in comparison to the ethereal, fit-for-a-Queen looks that we’re used to seeing take over at Couture Fashion Week, along with supersize hoop earrings on several catwalks like Versace, Armani, and Maison Margiela – an accessory we can all relate to. There’s something to be said about the disparity between the princess gowns and amped-up street wear trends that made up the Fall 2016 Haute Couture runways – the latest it-girl is the kind of woman who can pull out all the stops for a black-tie event, and take things down a notch when it comes time to hang out and watch the game.
Without further ado, here are nine trends, high and low, that ruled the couture collections this season.
THE EMPIRE WAIST
This season, designers at Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, and Giambattista Valli re-invented a royal favourite for the modern woman for their Fall 2016 Haute Couture presentations: the empire waist. The high-waist silhouette gathers just beneath the bust, and features a gathered skirt which is long and loosely fitting but skims the body, aiding in lengthening its appearance. Napolean’s first Empress Josephine de Beauharnais favoured an empire waist in her day, and was influential in popularizing the style around Europe, meaning if it’s good enough for an Empress, why not try the look for yourself this season?
‘40S STYLE SUITING
Peaked shoulders, nipped waists, and slim pencil skirts or trousers appeared at Elie Saab, Schiaparelli, and Jean Paul Gaultier this season, making a case for the dramatic look of ‘40s tailoring. The best part? There are no pin-curls required.
While feather accents are one of the standard métiers used in couture, this season, designers went above and beyond, using feather-y fabrics in innovative and exciting new ways. At Chanel, this meant tufts of delicate apricot-colour feathers, while at Giles Deacon’s Couture debut, this meant covering a black and white spotted gown in ostrich plumage. Meanwhile, Givenchy took more a subdued approach to the trend, giving fitted waistlines a feathered touch.
Believe it or not, denim made a rare debut at Couture Fashion Week on the runways at Dolce & Gabbana, Viktor & Rolf, and Ronald van der Kemp, who reimagined the everyday staple as something extraordinary by using embellishments, unusual weaving techniques, or recycled materials. And since the amped-up denim look has been spotted on red carpet events like the 2016 Met Gala, you might want to consider adding the look to your Fall 2016 evening wardrobe, as well.
Pretty pleats brought a lightness to the Couture shows in Paris last week. At Dior, a series of finale dresses were made from folding and cutting the micro-pleats, while Iris van Herpen crafted weightless dresses from tiny folds. Even J. Mendel’s hefty beaded gowns were finished with crinkled flounces in a rainbow of hues.
The most note-worthy lacework this season was made so by its shimmering golden hue. Francesco Scognamiglio and Alberta Ferretti fashioned gilded gowns that shimmered down the catwalk, while Valentino showed off Shakespearean-inspired jumpsuits adorned with delicate golden accents that complimented the sheer fabric.
No couture ensemble is complete without a great accessory, and going with this season’s throwback theme, the piece of choice this time around was an oversize ‘80s-inspired hoop earring. Both Atelier Versace and Armani Privé sent out shoulder-grazing crystal options, while John Galliano outfitted his Maison Margiela models with door knockers of carved wood.
Florals may be the quintessential spring pattern seen on runways for the past few seasons now, but in the garden of couture gowns, the flat floral patterns we’re used to just don’t cut it. Instead, design houses from Chanel to Elie Saab have taken to rendering flowers in three dimensions, leaving the petals to cascade off skirts or flutter on jacket sleeves.
Every princess needs a castle, and for Fall 2016’s Couture presentations, designers offered just that. Labels by the likes of Zuhair Murad, Fendi, and Elie Saab turned those very buildings into whimsical patterns on gowns, with Karl Lagerfeld reworking Scandinavian landscapes into several dresses for his collection, and Elie Saab sending out models in frocks with the Chrysler Building emblazoned on the front.