Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Jean Paul Gaultier's Couture Cabaret in Paris

A diaphanous gown showing Jean Paul Gaultier's masterful draping at his latest haute couture show in Paris. Cover picture and main image by Elli Ioannou for DAM

Jean Paul Gaultier's cabaret show has opened in London with the theatrical aesthetic that enlivens all of his fashion collections. We take a look at the highlights of his Autumn/Winter 2019/20 haute couture show in Paris, presented earlier this month. The new collection was full of playful optical illusions and had a stellar front row including French cinema icon Catherine Deneuve and fashion designer Alber Elbaz. Story by Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photography by Elli Ioannou

Dramatic, feathery hats that look
like fur and tromp l'oeil
patterns inspired
Victor Vasarely
JEAN Paul Gaultier's revue, Fashion Freak Show, opened in London at Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall, after a long and successful run in Paris at the Folies Bergère, which began in October last year.

The theatrical aspect to his work is one of the keys to Gaultier's continuing success after 40 years at the forefront of French fashion and as the last couturier of his generation to be the creative director at a house that still bears his name.

This season's haute couture collection, shown in Paris at his headquarters in the Marais, was full of as much drama and glamour as his cabaret, with Catherine Deneuve, Alber Elbaz, Walter Van Beirendonck and Christine Aguilera in the frow.

Wilting in the heat of a hot summer Parisian afternoon, guests at the show ~ some dressed in ball gowns ~ were greeted with Champagne, ice-cream and elegant black fans, before stepping on to the runway for photographs.

As the show opened, the first outfits appearing on the catwalk to the sound of Eighties and Nineties techno music, there were uproarious shouts and clapping. This all added to the sense of theatre at a Gaultier show that is quite different to the whispering quiet of other couture presentations.

Gaultier is the last French couturier of his generation to front a fashion house that still bears his name in Paris

Animal motifs on a
flowing ball gown
Gaultier has said he will not use new fur in his collections. This led to him to use optical effects, new fabrics and trompe l'oeil instead this season, creating the illusion of fur in a playful way.

The Autumn/Winter 2019-2020 collection includes prints and fabrics that all have images that look like fur but are actually abstract patterns. The black and white gown (see at right) is made of a specially printed textile that has a swirling design featuring vertical panels with an animal motif and a feathered waist. 

Gaultier's introduced colourful jumpsuits that were body-hugging, with feathered sleeves and jackets, cape dresses and coats in faux fur. A black tuxedo suit was beautifully cut with multiple fans of fine pleats deftly rising above the shoulders and fanned out around the waist.

The designer said he built the collection around the notion of hoodies, from a brilliant lime-green quilted satin parka to the bride's conical pleated gown. Backstage Gaultier described how optical effects, the hoodie and quilting were key themes: "This time, I did fur coat pieces, which were not real fur," he said. "I went with the spirit of optical illusions, prints that resemble different types of fur. I did coats but they were a bit like Michelin men, they had fox-like effects but it wasn’t a fox-fur coat. "

Gaultier is not including new fur in his collections and this season he used optical effects and trompe l'oeil instead

Fine purple pleats form
transparent layers
for this fairytale
creation
The collection included transparent, pleated veils over pointed, cone-shaped hats, (see at left) enveloping overcoats, long jackets with high collars and lapels rising up behind the head and brightly-hued chiffon and satin gowns with voluminous sleeves.
There were even quilted boots that matched the colour of the clothes.

"I did hooded, cape-coat pieces, which are a bit like tents, sometimes with transparent parts, and even an evening gown," said Gaultier at the Paris show. "There are even hat pieces that could make you think about fairies for a moment."

The designer likes to create dreamscapes in his fashion shows, where the models could be characters from a high-brow novel or a popular comic. Gaultier remains convinced fashion plays an important role in our lives: “It’s about a need for visual recognition, staking a claim."

In his jovial, talkative way, Gaultier wants to upend clichés and conventions and then reinvent them, through the medium of his clothes. Two designs are highlights of his innovative work as a couturier: the reinvented corset and the man skirt.

He describes how when he was looking through the clothes of his grandmother he found confining corsets and waist-cinchers which he then redesigned to be a symbol of female power rather than imprisonment. As early as the Return of Prints collection (Women’s RTW Spring/Summer 1984), Gaultier was mixing the African and the European, draping models in tunics or caftan miniskirts and Moroccan hats.

The designer likes to create dreamscapes in his fashion shows, where the models could be characters from a high-brow novel or a popular comic

Hoodies were inspiration
for the new collection
The lofty ceilings and black runway of this season's show at Gaultier's HQ, allows the collection's drama and fantasy to stand out in the stark setting, even the more subtly coloured outfits. Apart from the bright dashes of colour, there was a tonal palette of white, cream and brown that added a contrasting note of earthy hues that worked with the use of animal motifs.

There were also Victor Vasarely look prints (see at right), inspired by the Hungarian-French artist, who was the leader of the Op art movement. The graphic rows of dots and gradations of colour gave a 3D quality to some of the designer's creations.

The collection's combinations of plaid, print, vivid colours, feathers and animal prints ~ mixed with catsuits and chainmail headpieces ~ could have been a raucous cacophony. But Gaultier manages to make each eccentric piece part of his orchestra of ideas, individual instruments playing his signature exuberant tune.

The premiere of the designer's Fashion Freak Show revue in London, gives the public a taste of his provocative Paris couture along with the story of his life. Gaultier's cabaret combines aspects of a revue, circus, catwalk show and party. The show comes to London direct from its extended run in Paris where it was well-reviewed and very popular with audiences in the French capital.

Gaultier makes each eccentric piece part of his orchestra of ideas, individual instruments yet all playing his signature exuberant tune

Body hugging jumpsuit
with feathered sleeves and
chainmail headpiece
Fashion Freak Show features more than 200 original catwalk creations by Gaultier, showing his life through his most well-known designs, from extravagant gowns to the man skirt and the conical bustier.

The revue also explores his childhood and early career looking at his greatest fashion shows to wild nights in Paris and London plus sharing his journal from those times.

Gaultier also pays tribute to those famous muses who have inspired him, such as film directors Pedro Almodovar and Luc Besson, singers Madonna and Kylie Minogue and dancers Régine Chopinot and Angelin Prejlocaj.

Like Gaultier's couture show in Paris, the music is key for the cabaret show and moves from disco to funk, pop to rock and new wave to punk. The playlist of hits are the backdrop to Gaultier's life.

Apart from the outfits from past collections, he has also designed many new creations especially for the show that are presented against a vivid and evocative set. Gaultier collaborated with actress, scriptwriter and director Tonie Marshall to co-direct the show and worked with Marion Motin on the choreography.

The designer creates a sense of theatre at all of his fashion shows, but this revue brings all of his talents together and is a celebration and summation of his work so far. It will be interesting to see what Gaultier comes up with for his big anniversary year in fashion that he will celebrate at next January's couture shows.

Tap on photographs for highlights of the AW1920 haute couture show in Paris
The theatrical aspect to his work is one of the keys to Gaultier's continuing success after 40 years at the forefront of French fashion.

Jean Paul Gaultier is the last couturier of his generation to be the creative director at a house that still bears his name.

Prints were inspired by the Hungarian-French artist, Victor Vasarely, who was the leader of the Op art movement. The graphic rows of dots and gradations of colour gave a 3D quality to some of the designer's creations.


This season's haute couture collection, shown in Paris at his headquarters in the Marais, was full of as much drama and glamour as his cabaret.

Gaultier has said he will not use new fur in his collections. This led to him to use optical effects as the inspiration for this season, creating the illusion of animal motifs in a playful way.
The designer said he built the collection around the notion of hoodies and caps in different shapes and forms. 

Gaultier recreates animal patterns and fur by using innovative fabric designs and optical illusions.
As the show opened, the first outfits appearing on the catwalk to the sound of Eighties and Nineties techno music, there were uproarious shouts and clapping.
Gaultier wants to upend clichés and conventions and then reinvent them, through the medium of his clothes.
The collection included transparent, pleated veils over pointed, cone-shaped hats, enveloping overcoats, long jackets with high collars and lapels rising up behind the head, brightly-hued chiffon and satin gowns with voluminous sleeves.

The sense of theatre at a Gaultier show is quite different to the whispering quiet of other couture presentations. 

 The designer likes to create dreamscapes in his fashion shows, where the models could be characters from a high-brow novel or a popular comic.
Gaultier remains convinced fashion plays an important role in our lives:“It’s about a need for visual recognition, staking a claim."
Apart from the bright dashes of colour, there was a tonal palette of white, cream and brown, adding contrasting earthy tones.
The lofty ceilings and black runway of this season's show at Gaultier's HQ, allowed the collection's drama and fantasy to stand out in the stark setting, including this leopard print gown wrapped in a bodice of belts.
The collection's combinations of plaid, print, vivid colours, feathers and animal prints ~ mixed with catsuits and chainmail headpieces ~ could have been a raucous cacophony.
 But Gaultier manages to make each eccentric piece part of his orchestra of ideas, individual instruments playing his signature exuberant tune.

The diaphanous bridal gown finished the show and was like a fluid, creamy tent, flowing from a conical hat. 

 

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Paris Haute Couture: Antonio Grimaldi's American Dream

Backstage in Paris at Antonio Grimaldi's haute couture show, held at the historic Westin Vendôme hotel. Main photograph (above) and cover picture by Elli Ioannou for DAM
Italian couturier Antonio Grimaldi has come a long way from his hometown in southern Italy's Salerno. Today, the designer shows on the official Paris haute couture schedule and has an atelier in an historic palazzo in Rome. We take a look backstage before his latest show for Autumn/Winter 2019-20. Inspired by American 1930s black and white films, the new collection is a contemporary take on Cary Grant and Mae West with a dash of punk, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Reporting and photography by Elli Ioannou

Couturier Antonio Grimaldi
backstage in Paris
 
AMID the fluted gold columns, crystal chandeliers and florid burgundy brocade of the 19th century Westin Paris-Vendome's Salon Imperial, at 3 rue de Castiglione, Italian designer Antonio Grimaldi presented an equally sumptuous new haute couture collection.

Called I'm no Angel, after the 1933 film starring Mae West, the designer was inspired by the voluptuous actress in the black and white film. A quote from the film ~ "When I'm good I'm very good but when I'm bad I'm better" ~ was the starting point for the collection. Mae West was the screenwriter and made her character a circus performer who stars alongside Cary Grant.

Grimaldi says he likes the irreverence of Mae West and her taste for scandal that upset the staid Americana ethos at the time and that also established her as a Hollywood star.

The designer also looked at the Surrealists' fascination with her, such as Salvador Dali's famous 1934 work, Mae West's face which may be used as a Surrealist Apartment. In that spirit, Antonio Grimaldi added a dose of elegantly surreal punk to the collection with gold nose and lip rings and spiky jewellery, worn with sweeping, fluid gowns.

The leitmotifs for the collection are bias cuts that look like giant ribbons of fabric that shape themselves to the body. The colour palette is drawn from the hues of black and white films such as sand grey and anthracite. This is contrasted with vivid hues of bright reds and purples. Grimaldi has created asymmetrical, architectural forms that follow the curves of a woman and balanced gauzy, transparent materials with heavier, silken fabrics.

"When I'm good I'm very good but when I'm bad I'm better" ~ Mae West

Models backstage before the show,
wearing brilliant purple gowns
One of Grimaldi's favourite materials is a crepe fabric alternated and overlapped by velvet, chiffon, and taffeta, finished with special appliques. A chiffon sunray pleated dress has radial folds that burgeon out from slits and overlays cuts in the fabric. A triple organza blouse is both voluminous and light with transparent inserts. The collection also includes trompe l'oeil dresses with capes that flutter out behind.

Adding to the sense of modern richness are embroidered details that include materials such as metal, iron, black lacquered chains and crystals. These create grids and shapes that enhance the transparency of the gowns. Grimaldi also uses champagne-hued peacock feathers to emphasise the lightness of some of his creations. Metal belts with fringes and belt bags are stylishly combined to form part of the dresses. Overall, the look of the models is cool and soigne, with pulled back hair fixed with spiky clips, light brows and a streak of red eyeshadow under the lashes. The custom made jewellery, including combs and bracelets with pointed studs, was created by French jeweller Bernard Deletrrez.

The leitmotifs of the collection are bias cuts that look like giant ribbons of fabric that shape themselves to the body

Black leather turtlenecks
were a highlight of the
men's collection
Shown as part of the collection on the haute couture runway in Paris, were Grimaldi's men's looks with inspiration drawn from a modern day Cary Grant.

The suits were made in collaboration with the Neapolitan company Principe dell'Elganza, well-known for their fine tailoring.

Antonio Grimaldi designed the men's silhouette to have a soft line too, with sinuous shoulders and round curved pockets, all with a subtle colour range of charcoal, grey and black.

The tailored suits are hand-stitched with wool fabrics such as gray flannel, tweed and houndstooth. The collection includes double coats, flannel suits and evening tuxedos worn with black leather turtle necks.

Backstage at the show, Antonio Grimaldi says he always wanted to be a designer, since he was a child. The designer was passionate about art, fashion and in particular about craftsmanship. He learnt the secrets of couture in a small atelier in seaside Salerno, on the mountainous southern coast of Italy.

The men's silhouettes have a soft line, with sinuous shoulders and rounded, curved pockets

Grimaldi started working with his mother and sister when he was 15 years old and later designed his sister’s wedding dress. In the summer, he started to go to the couture atelier in Salerno because he wanted to learn about how to make beautiful clothes. The designer says when he was growing up in Italy, fashion school was only for women, so he went on to study graphics and art but was still determined to be a fashion designer.

A soigne model in diaphanous
black backstage in Paris
Today, he says that working with dressmakers early in his career taught him about textiles and the art of modelling designs to the body. He explains it was also very satisfying to work in an atelier, when he was young, where he was able to turn his sketches from dream to reality. Because the designer studied art rather than fashion, this is still an important aspect of his design philosophy for all of his collections.

One of the highpoints of Grimaldi's career was being invited to show as a couturier during Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. He says this is important from a business standpoint, as it provides the best fashion platform in the world to reach international buyers.

During the initial phases of creating a haute couture collection, Grimaldi thinks about the mood of the collection and then does the sketches. Next the fabrics and textures are chosen but this changes as the design of a garment develops. Lastly are the modelling and cut of the gown that will eventually be seen in that season's show.

The designer sees the process of creation as the same for both ready-to-wear collections and couture. He is always inspired by art in some form but he believes the magic is designing haute couture, with its virtuoso attention to detail and craftsmanship, where every part is done by hand including the embroidery.

Tap on pictures for full-screen slideshow from Paris

The fluted gold columns, crystal chandeliers and florid burgundy brocade of the 19th century Westin Paris
Vendome where Antonio Grimaldi presented a sumptuous new haute couture collection.

Grimaldi added a dose of elegantly surreal punk to the collection with gold lip rings and spiky jewellery, worn with sweeping, fluid gowns.
The leitmotifs of the collection are bias cuts that look like giant ribbons of fabric that shape themselves to the body.

The colour palette is drawn from the hues of black and white films such as cream, sand grey and anthracite.

Grimaldi has created asymmetrical, architectural forms that follow the curves of a woman and balanced gauzy, transparent materials with heavier, silken fabrics.
 Metal belts with fringes and belt bags are stylishly combined to form part of the gowns. Note the Surrealist 'lips' rings in red and gold.
The AW1920 collection was called 'I'm no Angel,' after the 1933 film starring Mae West. The designer was inspired by the voluptuous actress in the black and white film
Adding to the sense of modern richness are embroidered details that include materials such as metal, iron, black lacquered chains and crystals.
Shown as part of the collection on the haute couture runway in Paris, were Grimaldi's men's looks with inspiration drawn from a modern day Cary Grant.
 One of Grimaldi's favourite materials is a crepe fabric alternated and overlapped by velvet, chiffon, and taffeta, finished with special appliques.
During the initial phases of creating a haute couture collection, Grimaldi thinks about the mood of the collection and then does the sketches.
Fabrics and textures are chosen after the first sketches for the couture collection but they change as the design of a garment develops. Lastly, the modelling and cut of the gown is finished.
The tailored suits and coats in the collection are hand-stitched with wool fabrics such as gray flannel, tweed and houndstooth.
Overall, the look of the models was cool and soigne, with pulled back hair fixed with spiky clips, light brows and a sweep of red eyeshadow under the lower lash.
A quote from the film 'I'm no Angel" ~ "When I'm good I'm very good but when I'm bad I'm better" ~ was the starting point for the collection.
Today, Antonio Grimaldi says that working with dressmakers early in his career taught him about textiles and the art of modelling designs to the body.
Grimaldi believes the magic of fashion is designing haute couture, with its virtuoso attention to detail and craftsmanship, where every part is done by hand.
 

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Paris Haute Couture: Yuima Nakazato's Home Brew

In Paris, an elegantly subversive design by Yuima Nakazato, showing that sustainable fashion doesn't have to be dull. Cover picture and main photograph (above) by Elli Ioannou for DAM
One of the highlights of Paris Haute Couture Week is Yuima Nakazato's experimental collections. The designer brings a new approach to fashion, challenging the way we think of dress and creating revolutionary new fabrics from unusual sources, including this Autumn/Winter 2019-2020 season's brewed protein, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Additional reporting and photographs by Elli Ioannou

Yuima Nakazato's AW1920 couture collection at
Paris' Descartes University.
JAPANESE couturier Yuima Nakazato is one of the rare avant-garde fashion designers who don't just myopically experiment with style but have a radical manifesto and vision for what we will be wearing in the future. His collections are intellectual and full of new ideas that see fashion as central to art and life, not just the quotidian reality of having to dress every day.

The young couturier wants to change the nature of the materials used to create fashion and democratise haute couture so it is still highly individual yet available to everybody. Instead of seeing haute couture as so rarefied it is always under threat of extinction, due to the enormous skill and cost to produce each collection, Nakazato sees it as the future of fashion.

Although some of his ideas may seem outlandish, they stimulate a new way of thinking about the way we dress and how our clothes are made.

Nakazato strives to look at the big picture, he says he wants to realise "a new vision for humanity" through clothes. His designs are made from plant-derived sustainable materials, representing an important step away from current widespread reliance on petroleum-based resources.

Yuima Nakazato is one of the rare avant-garde designers who don't just experiment with style but have a radical manifesto for the future

For the new collection, entitled Birth, Nakazato has experimented with a new textile created from a substance called 'brewed protein', a sustainable fibre made by a fermentation process developed by Japanese biotech start-up Spiber. The fabrics in the collection use this cutting edge technology combined with an unexpected artisanal method ~ hand-knitting.

Backstage the designer adjusts
a model before the show
The textiles are created by digitally fabricating the specially-designed protein. Nakazato is creating a variety of different materials from this substance. He believes innovations in materials and technology are the direction in which haute couture should be moving.

For this Autumn/Winter 2019-20 collection, the designer created long, swinging shift dresses, separates with the riveted design developed in previous seasons, and athletic outerwear. The snap-closing he has created means clothes can be adaptable not only to the wearer's size and form but to their mood.

"Eventually, each and every garment will be unique and different,"  Nakazato explains. He has been exploring this concept through the prism of haute couture since 2016, when he began showing in Paris.

This season, the palette is a subtle mix of creams and browns with dashes of red. This was meant as a metaphor for the range of human skin colours but also with red as the underlying hue representing the blood that runs through us all. Because the brewed protein used to make the materials is made from amino acids it almost feels like the fabric is a natural part of the body, not a separate piece of clothing.

The fibre that makes up the fabric can be used as a thread and was made into crocheted capes and tops for the collection. As a blend with cotton it can make a more traditional textile or be used as a leather substitute for shoes.

His designs are made from plant-derived sustainable materials, representing an important step away from petroleum-based resources


 The colour palette of the show symbolises
the hues of the human body
As its production doesn't rely on petroleum, brewed protein is biodegradable and could offer a sustainable solution for the fashion industry. Ecologically-minded apparel manufacturers are moving away from micro plastics and animal-derived materials. Protein-based polymer materials are energy efficient, environmentally friendly and economic to produce.

Protein biopolymers are part of the building blocks of life, formed from different types of amino acids. Brewed protein refers to structural proteins which have been designed or selected from an almost limitless pool of possible amino acid combinations, and then produced via a microbial fermentation process. This proprietary technology, created by Spiber, allows for the creation of a hugely diverse range of such proteins, each with different features.

Before the show, as guests under the
beautiful windows of the
Descartes University
Nakazato has developed his new clothing production system during earlier collections, one not constrained by using a traditional needle and thread. Instead, Nakazato uses specially-designed clasps to connect fabric pieces. Called Type-1, it allows the wearer to quickly assemble, customise, and repair their own clothes.

The Paris Descartes University was used as the location for Yuima Nakazato's latest collection, with its cool, grey 18th century arcades and classical busts. The designer says he wanted the "gentle natural light that pours into the entrance," providing the backdrop that he had visualised as it was "perfectly suited to discussions regarding the future of mankind and clothing."

A sculpture called "Goldrain" was part of the show, showering down find gold particles, and based on the concept of the regeneration of the Earth. This rain of gold, along with the basin below, have an otherworldly beauty. Contemporary Japanese artist, Eugene Kangawa, has been developing the installation since 2018. The gold fragments are so fine they are affected by small movements of air or light.

Nakazato strives to look at the big picture, he says he wants to realise 'a new vision for humanity' through fashion


The golden basin of the Goldrain art installation
by Eugene Kangawa
Goldrain and Nakazato's new show share a common exploration of rebirth and hope and the new protein material he is using, has a white gold colour like the particles. The installation also symbolises the process for creating this new material, which is born through the mixture of particles and liquid. This is the same production process as making the brewed protein, where a powder is combined with water to generate a material.

The shimmering, miniscule specks of Goldrain combine to veil the surface of water and turn it into a glistening expanse. The falling fragments in this installation are meant to evoke rain and a sense of the birth of land, sea, and life, symbolising Nagazako's 'Birth' collection and its vision of a new type of haute couture for the people.

Tap on photographs for fullscreen slideshow
A sculpture called "Goldrain" was the poetic backdrop to the show, showering down find gold particles, and based on the concept of the regeneration of the Earth.
Yuima Nakazato is one of the rare avant-garde fashion designers who don't just experiment with style but have a radical manifesto and vision for what we will be wearing in the future.



The fabrics in the collection use cutting edge technology combined with an unexpected artisanal method ~ hand-knitting.


Nakazato has developed his new clothing production system during earlier collections, called Type-1, it allows the wearer to quickly assemble, customise, and repair their clothes.

This season, the palette is a subtle mix of creams and browns with dashes of red. This was meant as a metaphor for not only the range of skin colours of the human race but also red as the underlying hue as it represents the blood that runs through us all.

Not constrained by using a traditional needle and thread, Nakazato uses specially-designed clasps to connect fabric pieces.


The young couturier wants to change the nature of the materials used to create fashion and democratise haute couture so it is still highly individual yet available to everybody.

For the new collection, entitled Birth, Nakazato has experimented with a new textile created from a substance called "brewed protein," a sustainable fibre made by a fermentation process.
Rather than seeing haute couture as so rarefied it is always under threat of extinction, due to the enormous skill and cost to produce each collection, Nakazato sees it as the future of fashion.