Thursday, 26 July 2018

Film Noir Femme Fatale: Julien Fournie's 'First Crime' Collection

One of the dramatic gowns in red and black with hand embroidery at Julien Fournié's haute couture show in Paris. Photograph (above) and cover picture by Elli Ioannou for DAM. See video of show below
The femme fatale of film noir was the inspiration for French couturier Julien Fournié's enthralling new First Crime haute couture collection for Autumn Winter 2018/19 held in the darkly atmospheric and historic surrounds of the 17th Century Temple Protestant de l'Oratoire du Louvre in Paris, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photographs by Elli Ioannou

A shimmering blue gown that clings
to the body yet has a high,
asymmetrical décolleté
AS the haunting sound of a remixed Heart of Glass by Blondie soars up into the vaulted arches of the Oratoire du Louvre, the silhouette of a woman appears against a blood-red background wearing a sleek gown of black feathers. She is the first of the sultry femmes fatales to appear on the runway. Like heroines from an Alfred Hitchcock film, played by Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren or Kim Novak, the models walk haughtily down the runway of Julien Fournié's dramatic haute couture show. The designer has used Hitchcock's famous quote: "Suspense is like a woman. The more left to the imagination, the more the excitement" ~ as a leitmotif for the collection.

The couturier encourages you to wonder if the impassively beautiful women with their figure-hugging, chic clothes are the hunter or the hunted. Called First Crime, the collection is inspired by film noir masters such as Hitchcock, Agatha Christie and Paul Verhoeven and the clothes have suitably anatomical cuts that cling seductively close to the body. The feathered black dress that opens the show has a 1950s silhouette with a slim waist and wide A-line skirt that shows the extraordinary handiwork of Julien Fournie's Paris ateliers, including the beautiful embroidery and sequins, all made in-house.

This is Mr Fournié's best collection yet ~ cohesive and engaging with cleverly sculptural drapery and beautifully cut asymmetrical bias inlays. The colour palette is equally dramatic with a mix of ruby red and dark blue contrasted with fawn. Fabrics include mohair, silk and chiffon with several gowns and a pantsuit covered in a cascade of rippling sequins that subtly change colour from burgundy to violet and blue.

This is Julien Fournié's best collection yet with  sculptural drapery and beautifully cut asymmetry

This graphic,fluid dress is a standout
designs of the collection
The designer says the collection was also inspired by the television series The Handmaid’s Tale and particularly the characters Offred, played by Elisabeth Moss and Serena Joy, played by Yvonnes Strahovski. The couturier wanted the designs to be very clear cut and free of obvious embellishments. The long silhouettes are emphasised by flowing skirts, swirling at the end of the runway. One of the standout designs from the collection is the graphic yellow, white and black gown (see at left) cinched at the waist that follows the shapely form of the woman but is buttoned to the neck with long sleeves.

Other highlights of the collection include an ankle-length gown in mustard-yellow with a full skirt (see below) and a glimmering, electric blue evening dress that fluidly clings to the body revealing the form yet concealing the body with a long sleeves and a wonderfully draped skirt (see above). A virtuoso example of the work of Fournié's ateliers is the long, shimmering gown that changes colour from deep reds and purples in a column of sequins overlaid with silk chiffon in burgundy and blue (see in highlights below).

Julien Fournié's family background is directly connected to the making of clothes and accessories, as one set of grandparents were tanners and another made lingerie and corsets. The designer has a Castilian mother and a French father and although growing up he loved to draw, Fournié decided to study medicine and take a degree in Biology once he finished school. However, after two years he changed to study fashion and went on to the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, graduating in 2000. His early promise was evident as he won the Moet & Chandon Prize for best accessories when he graduated. Also during the three years of study and apprenticeship, he worked at famous fashion houses to develop his skills such as at Nina Ricci, Christian Dior and Givenchy haute couture.

The couturier wanted the designs to be very clear cut and free of obvious embellishments

A flowing mustard-yellow gown with
a full skirt and buttoned to the neck
One of the highlights after Julien Fournié graduated, was working for Jean-Paul Gaultier who employed him as an assistant designer in haute couture for the Autumn Winter 2001/2002 collection and he also had the opportunity to work on the stage costumes for a Madonna tour.

Later the young designer gained a lot of experience as the creative director at other brands, including at Paris-based haute couture fashion house Torrente. But when he was 32 years old, Mr Fournié founded his own eponymous haute couture company. The designer had always loved the fine workmanship and tailoring of haute couture and the work of the French ateliers that produce and decided that by 2009 he was ready.

It took only two years for the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Française ~ the governing body of the French fashion industry ~ to grant Julien Fournié's fashion house guest member status in 2011, which allowed the brand to bear the “Haute Couture” label and participate in the Paris Haute Couture fashion week.

By 2016, the Federation Française de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture announced that its members had convened on December 16th and elected two new members to the full status of haute couture. One was the storied French house Schiaparelli, which was founded in the 1930s by Elsa Schiaparelli, and the other was Julien Fournié. He is the 15th designer to become a couturier and to have been officially elected as a permanent member like the big houses such as Dior, Chanel and Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Julien Fournié first worked at famous fashion houses to develop his skills such as at Nina Ricci, Christian Dior and Givenchy haute couture.

 Julien Fournié takes his bow at his AW1819 haute
couture show in Paris
"I'm part of the ninth generation of couturiers, so I have to be the protector of the traditional and handmade savoir-faire of haute couture, namely: embroiderers, feather workers, people who make flowers in an incredible way," the designer said.

"But also, I should project the métier into the future. And that’s haute couture, it has to always be three steps ahead. The official name ‘permanent member of Haute Couture’ and the fact that I am one of the 15 worldwide houses that have this label, is going to have crucial repercussions for my business."

Julien Fournié  is now part of select group of grand couturiers and fashion houses that include: Adeline André, Alexandre Vauthier, Alexis Mabille, Chanel, Christian Dior, Franck Sorbier, Giambattista Valli, Givenchy, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Maison Margiela, Maurizio Galante, Schiaparelli, Stéphane Rolland and Yiqing Yin.

Watch the video of the Paris show and see further highlights from the collection below


This long, shimmering gown changes colour from deep reds and purples in a column of sequins overlaid with silk chiffon in burgundy and blue.
The brilliant "anatomical cut" around the body that Julien Fournié is known for, that also combines the lilting flow of a full skirt to the ankles.  


The swing of a brilliant blue skirt at the end of the runway at the atmospheric and historic surrounds of the 17th Century Temple Protestant de L'Oratoire du Louvre in Paris.
Like heroines from an Alfred Hitchcock film, played by Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren or Kim Novak, the models sashayed down the runway.
In voluminous blue and green, this pantsuit and long coat have the feeling of a 1950s femme fatale.

 The spectacular bridal gown with its lace bodice and full skirt recalled Grace Kelly's wedding dress to Prince Rainier in Monaco in 1955.
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