Fantasy over practicality, wildly expensive gowns, plentiful tulle. Haute Couture is exciting enough, but this July marks another reason to celebrate: a return to the runway. The week-long fashion fiesta, organised by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode in Paris, will be amongst the first fashion weeks to be held in-person since the pandemic halted most physical fashion shows (since September 2020, no major show has taken place in Paris). Now, Haute Couture Fashion Week will be a hybrid extravaganza, with both digital and on-ground displays. Here’s a cheat sheet to everything you need to know about the week-long Fall 2021 couture season.
This year, Valentino has announced that their couture show will take place in Venice. In an official statement, Valentino says that the Italian city “generates vibrations on art, music, architecture, cinema, and everything that has to do with creativity” for Pierpaolo Piccoli, the brand’s creative director.
In Paris, the home of haute couture, Alaïa will be displaying its first official show under the leadership of Pieter Mulier. On July 4, the much-anticipated debut of Mulier will take place on the eve of Paris Couture Week. The couture calendar will also feature guest designs, including Ralph Rucci of RR331. Chanel will also display its couture collection in Paris. So far, it is the only fashion house to confirm a live audience alongside a live show.
53 years ago, the iconic Cristóbal Balenciaga, founder of the eponymous brand, closed his haute couture house. With the appointment of Demna Gvasalia as creative director, Balenciaga is poised to re-launch their couture salon, with the first collection hitting runways in July. Gvasalia says that couture is “an explored mode of creative freedom”, bringing “the modern vision of Balenciaga back to its sources of origin.” Returning to the roots of Balenciaga is two-fold: the brand has restored the original salon in which Cristóbal created his dazzling pieces.
In what is sure to go down as a moment in fashion history, Kerby Jean-Raymond will be the first Black American designer to exhibit at Paris Haute Couture Week. Jean-Raymond sits at the helm of his label, Pyer Moss, which has been invited to be a guest member of the couture syndicate. The invitation arrives from the Chambre Syndicale, the commission founded in 1868, responsible for assessing brands that are “true haute couture.”
IMAGES | COURTESY OF PYER MOSS' COLLECTION 3
Launched in 2013, Pyer Moss has been labelled as luxury streetwear, blending opulence with modern sensibilities. Its founder has deeply embedded politics into his aesthetics, too, often bringing American heritage and history to his designs.
The first Indian female designer has also been invited as a guest this season. Vaishali Shadangule, the designer behind label Vaishali S, will host an in-person show in Paris. Shadangule says that this is an opportunity to showcase Indian textiles and weaves to the larger world of fashion: “I want to show the global market that India has a lot more to offer.”
images | Kerby Jean-Raymond