Tuesday 4 July 2023

A Resplendent Ode to Maria Callas: Stéphane Rolland's Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24 Collection

Inspired by Maria Callas and the glamour of 60's Paris, Stephane Rolland's haute couture collection was shown at the sumptuous Palais Garnier. Main photograph and cover picture by Elli Ioannou for DAM 

The dazzling spectacle of French couturier Stéphane Rolland's Autumn/Winter 2023-24 collection at the historic Opéra Garnier was a highlight of Paris haute couture. A tribute to the legendary opera diva, Maria Callas, who would have celebrated her centenary this year, the show was an enchanting marriage of fashion, music and cinema, writes Antonio Visconti. Photography by Elli Ioannou

Maria Fernanda Candido wears a 
a magnificent red duchess satin gown 
by Stephane Rolland at the Paris show
Stéphane Rolland's latest haute couture collection was a homage to the elegance of Maria Callas. The sumptuous grandeur of the Paris Opéra Garnier was a suitably dramatic backdrop for the opulent runway show. 

Models walked up the broad, white marble staircases and along the mosaic floors of the high-ceilinged hallways, lined with guests. 

Rolland's sartorial artistry was a fitting complement to the majestic surroundings, while the soul-stirring voice of Maria Callas filled the air and was hauntingly beautiful.

The soundscape for the show was created from Callas both singing and speaking, adding depth and emotion to the spectacle. It was as if Callas herself had graced the runway, her spirit infused in the gowns' seams and silhouettes. Along with the resplendent gowns, the acoustics cast a spell over the audience.

The autumn/winter 2023-24 collection was a showcase of Rolland's artistry and ability to marry structure and fluidity, elegance and drama

A diaphanous black chiffon dress 
with a white gazar "flame" flaring 
dramatically from the shoulder. 
Stéphane Rolland's signature is his contemporary couture that bridges the worlds of art, architecture, and sculpture. Rolland says the work of modern architects and designers like Ron Arad and Zaha Hadid are inspirations. His ability to blend history, art, and fashion into a single narrative is a testament to his creative drive and vision.

This season, Rolland's collection extended to the silver screen, with French director Claude Lelouch capturing the magic at the Palais Garnier. The collaboration between Rolland and Lelouch was a meeting of two minds, a union of fashion and cinema. 

Lelouch plans to weave the footage he filmed at the runway show into his upcoming work, Finalement, which will debut at the Paris Opéra. 

The French designer's show transported the audience back to the glamorous Sixties, when Callas graced stages in Paris and around the world. Rolland was inspired by images from that era, capturing the essence of Parisian style and elegance. The collection, comprising 31 exquisite dresses, was an ode to not only Callas's dramatic presence but also the operas that defined her career. 

The silhouettes were minimalist yet graphic, exuding both boldness and delicacy. Rolland used a restricted but dramatic palette with black and white gowns mixed with striking dashes of brilliant red and gold. The couturier is a master of creating arresting forms and silhouettes with rich yet subtle fabrics. He wanted the collection to capture the essence of the glamourous Parisian mid-century aesthetic.

The French designer's signature is his contemporary couture, melding art, architecture, and sculpture

All in brilliant white, a long silk dress
with a geometric cape and a short jacket 
with hand-made porcelain petals.
One of the outstanding designs was a long, white silk dress with a geometrical cape embroidered with crystals and porcelain petals in white wool gazar. Another was a short white jacket with hand-carved porcelain petals that looked three dimensional and was worn with a silk crepe skirt (see at left). 
The striking, coral-red "Zeffirelli" dress in embossed crepe was worn with a leather hood shaped like golden tresses. A diaphanous and revealing black chiffon gown was contrasted with a 'flame' of white gazar on the shoulder and diamond belt. 

Other highlights include the red duchess satin "Tosca" dress worn by Maria Fernando Candido and a black silk velvet openwork gown with shimmering gazar ties at the back. The "Traviata" dress with its black velvet corset and sculptural skirt in white organza embroidered with ruby crystals was particularly alluring.  The "Norma" finale was all in white chiffon with a leather acanthus leaf scrolling across the bodice in patinated leather. 

Stéphane Rolland's modern interpretation of couture, rooted in his passion for art, sculpture, and photography, is captivating. From his early beginnings to launching his haute couture house, Rolland's journey has been one of exploring innovation while still creating beautiful, wearable gowns.

The show transported the audience back to the glamorous Sixties, when Callas graced the stage in Paris 

A coral-red crepe gown worn 
with a scintillating gilded 
leather head dress.
Raised in various corners of the world, including Argentina, Paraguay, and the French West Indies, Rolland's talent was recognized early on in Paris when he was hired by none other than Cristóbal Balenciaga at the tender age of twenty years old. 

Following a decade-long stint at Jean-Louis Scherrer, Rolland took the leap and established his haute couture maison in 2007. Since then, he has built a reputation as a pioneering couturier, catering to a clientele ranging from royalty to celebrities in film and music. 

An official member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, Rolland still continues to push boundaries and explore new ideas.

This autumn/winter 2023-24 collection was a showcase of Rolland's artistry and ability to marry structure and fluidity, elegance and drama. 

In his world, fashion is not just clothing but has the ability to enthrall and take us to another world.

See highlights from Stephane Rolland's AW23/24 haute couture collection at the Paris Opera

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Monday 3 July 2023

Paris Haute Couture: Highlights from the Schiaparelli Haute Couture Autumn Winter 2023-24 Collection

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Iris van Herpen's Futuristic Fashion Inspired by Aquatic Architecture

Exciting biodynamic shapes, futuristic techniques and beautiful materials, inspired by aquatic urbanism, were key to the new haute couture collection by Iris van Herpen. Main photograph above and cover picture by Elli Ioannou for DAM

Iris van Herpen's Autumn/Winter 2023-24 haute couture collection, presented in Paris, drew inspiration from architects, oceanographers, and futuristic floating cities, her creations blurred the boundaries between fashion and architecture. With a palette that echoed the ocean's hues and designs that mirrored the adaptability of marine life, the show took us on a journey through uncharted waters, towards a future where we live on both land and sea, writes Antonio Visconti. Photography by Elli Ioannou

Laser cut designs in sea-colored 
hues suggest architectural forms for
ocean living. 
At the heart of her latest collection, called Architectonics, is Dutch designer Iris van Herpen's exploration of aquatic urbanism. Inspired by the works of Jacques Rougerie, van Herpen bridges the gap between scientific exploration and fashion innovation. 

The collection pays homage to Rougerie's underwater habitats and floating laboratories, translating their structural intricacies into wearable art. Another significant influence is the revolutionary 'Oceanix' floating city in South Korea, designed by architect Bjarke Ingels, which integrates sustainability principles into waterborne urbanism. Vincent Callebaut's ocean architecture projects, including 'Lilypad' and 'Oceanscrapers,' further informed van Herpen's ideas, showcasing the synergy between architectural design, fashion and ecological preservation. 

The Autumn/Winter 2023-24 show was held in the beautiful gardens of the Hôtel d'Avaray, an 18th century mansion located in rue de Grenelle, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, in the Île-de-France (see below). Built in 1718-20 for the Marquis d'Avaray, it was designed by the architect Jean-Baptiste Leroux. Although it remained in the Avaray family until 1920, it has since been the property of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which made it its embassy from 1920 to 1973. More recently it has served as the ambassador's residence.

The collection pays homage to underwater habitats and floating laboratories, translating their structural intricacies into wearable art

Dutch designer Iris van Herpen wears one 
of her new creations in the gardens of the 
Netherlands ambassador's residence in Paris

A Chromatic Harmony:
Van Herpen showed the 17 new designs amid the greenery, which enhanced the ideas behind her ecological themes. The striking gowns have her signature combination of futuristic technique with an ethereal elegance that makes them seem from another world. 

The laser cut and shaped bodies formed the "trunk" of the tree with the "branches" forming shimmering extrusions around the head and body.  The fluidity of diaphanous fabrics gave the designs the flow and movement that suggest the sea.  

Fashion and Futuristic Urbanism: 
The collection's avant-garde ethos resonates with a radical shift in urban planning and new concepts for more resilient cities of the future. Embracing principles of parametric architecture, the designs embody fluidity, fragmentation, and dynamic patterns. 

Explosive interplays of light and shadow dance around the body, while fractal forms and distorted perspectives redefine conventional fashion boundaries. Van Herpen's fusion of new ideas about fashion and floating architecture is a testament to the designer's commitment to pushing the limits of creativity and innovation. 

The striking gowns have van Herpen's signature combination of futuristic technique and ethereal elegance 
Abalone shell flakes form a
glimmering sheen on this 
striking design

Cutting-edge Techniques:
The collection introduces revolutionary couture techniques that intertwine fashion and architecture. The 'Biophilic' technique involves the intricate bonding of architectural structures to create molds for injecting marble-textured silicone. Abalone shell flakes are hand-inlaid culminating in a play of textures and iridescence (see at left). 

The 'Oceanix' includes graphic polygon patterns that deconstruct and evolve with the body's movement. 'Sensorama,' characterized by 3D fractal formations, creates seductive cutouts within sculptural silhouettes. 

Aquatic Harmony and Elegance: 
The harmonious color palette of the collection embraces oceanic hues, ranging from mint-green and abalone-blue to pearlescent shell shades. Graphic contrasts of white and black are accented with metallic detailing in silver, bronze, and gold. 

The collection's boots were created through digital modeling and 3D printing in collaboration with Scry, along with face jewelry co-designed with Malakai and Rinaldy Yunardi. Each piece tries to express the idea of waterborne urbanism, blurring the lines between human habitation and marine ecosystems. 

The designer challenges us to reimagine our existence and redefine our relationship with the environment

Futuristic face jewellery created 
for the collection with Malakai
and Rinaldy Yunardi. 

Architectural Convergence: 
As concerns over rising sea levels grow, the ideas that inspired van Herpen's work resonate as a response to the urgent need for innovative living spaces. 

With themes drawn from the world's first floating city, and those visionary architects Rougerie and Callebaut, the collection symbolizes a future where humanity seamlessly navigates both land and water. 

Through her work in haute couture, Iris van Herpen challenges us to reimagine our existence and redefine our relationship with the environment, working with ecosystems that define our world.

Bionic architecture has emerged as a response to climate change concerns. This architectural movement integrates biological principles to design self-sufficient structures responsive to environmental shifts. By studying nature's responses to forces, architects create buildings that modify themselves, fostering harmony between society and nature through intricate interactions of form, material, and structure.

Iris van Herpen's Architectonics collection marries these architectural concepts with haute couture, delivering a glimpse into a future where humanity and the oceans can coexist. As our world faces pressing environmental challenges, this collection offers not only a visual feast but also new ideas about creating a more sustainable future. 

Highlights from Iris van Herpen's Architectonics AW 2023-24 Collection in Paris

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Sunday 25 June 2023

Wooyoungmi: Bridging Cultures through Fashion and Exploring Jeju Island's Contrasting Identities

A translucent and shimmering design with delicate illustrations of the Nomura jellyfish, a highlight of the new Wooyoungmi collection. Main photograph (above) and cover picture by Elli Ioannou.

As the world's attention turns towards South Korea, with the explosion of K-pop, local label Wooyoumgmi's Spring 2024 collection explores the country's culture and the global fascination it inspires. Creative director Madame Woo drew inspiration from the contrasting facets of Jeju Island, showing the dichotomy between the raw and rocky environment of the haenyeo divers and the vibrant party culture adored by the nation's youth, writes Isabella Lancellotti. Photography by Elli Ioannou

Immersed in the blue light of a
metaphorical sea, Wooyoungmi's 
creations glimmered tantalizingly.

Emerging from the inky blue depths of the half-lit 
Théâtre National de Chaillot, in Paris' Place du Trocadéro, the models of the Wooyoungmi show looked as if they were creatures from the sea. 

This was all part of the theme of Madame Woo's new SS24 collection. She was thinking of the resilient female divers from the volcanic South Korean Jeju Island who dive for seafood to support their families, a tradition that dates back to the 17th century. Known as haenyeo, these divers don repurposed garments, layering them under utilitarian diving gear. 

Madame Woo explores the culture of Jeju by juxtaposing two contrasting aspects: the laborious world of the haenyeo and the party atmosphere of the island. 

The collection's silhouettes oscillate between figure-hugging and voluminous shapes and play on the opaque and transparent nature of different materials. Scuba gilets, trousers, and tops embrace a body-conscious line, contrasting with the loose-fitting lightweight tailoring reminiscent of an Eighties summertime sensibility. 

Madame Woo explores the culture of Jeju by juxtaposing two contrasting aspects: the laborious world of the haenyeo and the party atmosphere of the island 

The voluminous shirts and trousers
recalled the '80s party scene
on Jeju Island. 

Madame Woo's keen observation of the connections between her own culture and Europe is another key theme in the collection's narrative. Inspired by history, her designs also draw from the encounter between South Korea and the West in 1628 when a group of Dutchmen were shipwrecked on Jeju. 

Hendrik Hamel, one of the survivors, documented this encounter and published the first account of the kingdom in Europe, in 1668. Recalling this historical event, the collection has a modern take on a 1600s aesthetic with ruffles, ruches, and diaphanous garments. Dutch seaman's hats find parallel expression in the scuba-inspired accessories. 

The collection also embraces the island's natural wonders with scientific illustrations of the Nomura's jellyfish, indigenous to the waters surrounding Jeju, printed on shirts, tops, and even the models' skin. 

Neon-bright graphics recall rave culture and the techno party aesthetic of the island with draped dresses and tops adorned with embroidered tentacles along with voluminous tech workwear and denim pieces.  

Asymmetrically-tied, second-skin tops pay homage to the art of bojagi, a Korean wrapping technique but have the technical construction of a swimsuit. Evocative, translucent materials are used for outerwear, tops, trousers, and skirts, while a resin abstraction of jellyfish is designed as striking jewelry pieces, including necklaces, earrings, and ear cuffs. 

The designer's keen observation of the connections between her own culture and Europe is another key theme in the collection's narrative

This was sleek yet sumptuous collection that 
was both original and very wearable. 
The color palette draws inspiration from the natural landscape of Jeju, incorporating black, brown, navy, slate, light blue, and sunset reds and pinks, invigorated by vibrant electric hits of neon colors.

By intertwining historical narratives, contrasting elements of Jeju's identity, and nature-inspired aesthetics, Madame Woo creates a collection that is both visually captivating and culturally significant. 

This exploration is woven into the collection's silhouettes, materials, and colors, creating a captivating story that reflects the historical meeting between South Korea and the West and the world of the divers and party people of Jeju. 

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Breaking Boundaries: Henrik Vibskov's New Collection Unboxes Fashion's Conventions and Celebrates 20 Years of Creative Excellence

The vivid orange boxing rings of Henrik Vibskov's presentation at the Lycée Henri-IV in Paris. Main photograph (above) and cover picture of the Wooyoungmi SS24 show by Elli Ioannou for DAM. 

In a departure from conventional inspirations, Danish designer Henrik Vibskov broke new ground with his Spring/Summer 2024 collection, presented in Paris. Drawing from the unexpected realms of cardboard boxes and the art of boxing, Vibskov challenges the limits of creativity and reimagines the concept of packaging. By exploring the symbolic and physical dimensions of boxes, the collection ignites curiosity and prompts us to reconsider the very essence of fashion, writes Antonio Visconti. Photography by Elli Ioannou 

For the new collection, Vibskov was
inspired by both the world of packaging 
and boxing in the ring. 
In a world where fashion constantly seeks inspiration from the unlikeliest sources,
Henrik Vibskov presented a collection that pushes the boundaries of creativity and challenges the notions of packaging. 

For the new SS24 Studio collection, the designer found inspiration in the mundane yet intriguing world of cardboard boxes and the captivating universe of boxing. 

The concept of the box ~ able to both contain and protect precious items during transit ~ resonated deeply with Vibskov. He and his team delved into the significance of boxes, exploring the meticulous act of carefully packing goods, the thrill of sending and receiving packages, and the curious excitement that accompanies the unboxing experience. 

As they explored the ideas, they realized that the human mind has an inherent inclination to sort and categorize, to put things into boxes both physically and symbolically. This unconscious reflex became the driving force behind the collection and reflected this theme in many aspects of the design. 

For the new collection, Henrik Vibskov found inspiration in the mundane yet intriguing world of cardboard boxes and the captivating universe of boxing

The installation of the colorful boxing arena 
created an intriguing space where 
fashion and sport meet. 
The installation of the Vibskov boxing arena in the courtyard of Paris' Lycée Henri-IV was like entering a kaleidoscopic world where fashion and sport collide. The ring, soft and fringed in brilliant orange, pulsated with energy and life. 

Guests were introduced to the fighters ~ Vibskov's creations ~ as they took center stage within ever-changing boxing rings. 

Their movements echo a waltz, gracefully dancing around the rings, inviting viewers to explore the uncharted territories of fashion and self-expression. The collection is even called the Unboxing Waltz Tutorial.

With this new collection, Henrik Vibskov once again proves his ability to challenge conventions and redefines fashion. By drawing inspiration from the world of boxing and the art of unboxing, Vibskov presents a collection that not only celebrates the transient nature of our lives but also promotes sustainability and mindful consumption. 

The designer challenges conventions and redefines fashion, creating a collection that promotes sustainability and mindful consumption

This striking 'boxy' checked suit was part of the 
new SS24 collection. 
Through his innovative designs and conscious choices, Vibskov invites us to unbox not just physical objects but also the symbolic boxes we inhabit, encouraging us to embrace the unexpected and explore the possibilities that lie beyond the confines of tradition.

Dresses and shirts take inspiration from unexpected deliveries, with front and back designs that can be interchanged, blurring the lines between what is expected and what is unconventional. 

Garment details play with the shape of handles, mimicking the practicality of boxes, while textiles reminiscent of bubble wrap add an element of surprise and contrast to the otherwise structured boxy styles. Woven textiles toy with the notion of being in transit or out for delivery.

Prints feature flat unfolded boxes, dynamic collages of boxing rings, and boxing glove flowers: symbolically knocking out preconceived notions and standards. Even the delivery bird makes an appearance, transformed into a peace dove, spreading its message of harmony and unity. 

Vibskov invites us to unbox not just physical objects but also the symbolic boxes we inhabit, encouraging us to embrace the unexpected

This garment (above) has "out for delivery" 
as part of its textile design worn with
an abstracted boxing belt that
 reflects the collection's themes.
To complement the collection, Vibskov collaborated with jewelry designer Vibe Harsløf. The result is an array of silver showpieces and accessories. 

Handmade with intricate detail, these pieces feature silver birds and band aids as pendant earrings, necklaces, and nose pieces. Headpieces adorned with cartoonish birds circling add a touch of whimsy and playfulness to the overall aesthetic. 
In an era where sustainable practices in producing fashion are vital, Henrik Vibskov and his team have made conscious choices to ensure the collection aligns with their environmental values. All fabrics used have been upgraded and transformed to be either recycled or organic. In fact, 83% of the garments in the SS24 collection consist of certified fabrics. Vibskov remains committed to increasing the use of both certified organic textiles and using nontoxic dyes and prints.

The designer believes sustainable practices in producing fashion are vital and has ensured the collection aligns with his environmental values.

The knitwear in deep purples and ochres depicts 
bird in a striking pattern. 
Special to this season's collection was Henrik Vibskov's celebration of his 20th anniversary of artistic endeavors in France. The designer graduated from London's Central St Martin’s in 2001 and two years later, in January 2003, he was made a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Mode Masculine. 

For more than ten years, Vibskov was the only Danish fashion designer to be on the official show schedule of the Paris Men's Fashion Week. 

Along with his fashion collections, Vibskov has also exhibited at the Hyeres Festival as well as at Galeries de Galeries, Saint Etienne Biennale, Maison du Danemark and Palais de Tokyo. Multi-talented,Vibskov is also a musician, and has played a number of concerts including with electronic artist, Trentemøller, on stage at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris. Other work encompasses designing costumes for Alexander Ekman’s Swanlake shown at Le Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.

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