Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2021

The scale at which couture collections are created and presented always amazes me. It almost seems like a time where designers are given free rein, irrespective of trends, to just design and create something out of their wildest dreams and it is a pure joy to witness. It always brings me back to why I love luxury fashion – it isn't about which look from the runway is going to be the next 'it' piece, the focus is purely on the craft and work that goes into creating luxury fashion. The Spring/Summer 2021 haute couture collections for me were a beautiful balance between fantasy and reality – the Christian Dior collection giving us major Bridgerton flashbacks, Chanel's intimate, bohemian yet casual wedding was a refreshing sight in a time that would ordinarily be wedding season and Iris Van Herpen's fashion-meets-nature-meets-tech inspired collection to remind us that we're running out of excuses to not champion the sustainable fashion movement. Keep reading for a quick review of some of my favourite collections from the season!


IRIS VAN HERPEN


I'm always fascinated by Iris Van Herpen's designs, especially since the Autumn/Winter 2017 couture collection when the textures became bigger and more detailed. Almost every design moves as fluidly as water and is such a red-carpet-worthy outfit. For her Spring/Summer 2021 collection, Herpen emphasised to Vogue that there isn't a valid excuse anymore for fashion brands to no longer use sustainable materials in their collections, other than an unchanged mindset. Keeping with the theme of sustainable materials, Herpen collaborated with Parley for the Oceans and created a fabric made with upcycled marine debris to use for this collection. Drawing inspiration from a book by Merlin Sheldrake on fungi and its role in the earth's ecosystem, the latest collection, 'Roots of Rebirth' replicates fungi activity, through pleated, almost translucent organza in a range of white to vivid amber, extending from hand-embroidered bodices to form fractal networks. A collage of fine-edged flowing gills was 3D embroidered onto expandable lace, laser-cut to create a balance between skin and fabric. Like most Iris Van Herpen shows, this collection was an excellent coming-together of fashion, nature and technology.


CHRISTIAN DIOR


How many of you also got some major Bridgerton vibes from the Christian Dior collection? Creating a bridge between fantasy and reality seems to be a recurring theme for Maria Grazia Chiuri's pandemic-era couture collections, as evidenced by her Spring/Summer 2021 and even her Autumn/Winter 2020 couture collection which also has an element of fantasia with the woodland creatures emerging from the forest and lakes and being dressed in Dior couture. For the Spring/Summer 2021 collection, the fantasy aspect came from tarot, and the reality from Catherine Dior, Christian Dior's sister. While helping Justine Picardie research her latest book – Miss Dior: A Story of Courage and Couture, Chiuri was inspired by how when Catherine went missing, Christian Dior turned to tarot cards in an effort to search for his sister. The film for this couture collection is meant to be a walk through a castle. As the viewer goes from room to room, they encounter different representations of figures from the tarot cards in heavy brocade, exquisite silk and the ever-present tulle – including the High Priestess, Justice and Death. Any Dior collection would be incomplete without a contemporary version of 1947's New Look, and this collection was no different with multiple reinventions of the New Look with longer skirts and more modern collars and necklines.


CHANEL


I know so many people who got married in the middle of a pandemic, but no wedding was quite like the one Chanel presented at the Grand Palais this week. A small gathering of 32 guests (models), who walked down a short runway wearing ensembles fit for every member of the bridal party and their guests – my personal favourite was the knee-length white dress (left) purely because of the structured fabric and the abundance of pockets. The collection and presentation reflected the current era, how we've adapted and toned our celebrations down with comfort as a priority. Throughout the collection, silhouettes aren't as fitted, outfits are functional and even heels aren't as high. I would even be bold enough to say that I could see several pieces being mixed and matched to create new looks! Creative Director Virginie Viard also included a few looks inspired by menswear, 'a little garçonne' as she calls it; something even Gabrielle Chanel was known to draw inspiration from for her earlier collections. I can very confidently say that this has been one of the first Chanel couture collection where I've said 'I would wear that' more times than I can count.


Which were some of your favourite looks from the couture collections? We'll be covering a lot more fashion content this month – follow us on Instagram to stay tuned!


Illustrations by Sarita Karandikar