Flower wreaths, bejewelled face masks, and hair up to the high heavens, Haute Couture celebrates the best minds in the fashion industry. In a time where what we most desire is to escape reality and embed ourselves in a beautifull environment, the world’s most prestigious fashion weeks are starting to be missed. To satiate that crave, Design Limited Edition has rounded up a list of 12 of, in our eyes, the most iconic looks and moments from Haute Couture history, ever!
Versace Atelier Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 1995
Gianni Versace’s autumn/winter 1995 couture show was a glittering affair. Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen, Claudia Schiffer — all the supers were there, shimmering and shimmying away — until finally, Kate Moss appeared as the blushing bride, her hair pulled back under a veil to reveal a sweeping side fringe, her lips glimmering with a thick gloss and her face covered in glitter.
Givenchy Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1997
With fashion’s L’Enfant terrible Alexander McQueen newly installed at the helm of Givenchy, that season’s couture show was always going to be a spectacle. Adopting a palette of white and gold, based on the Givenchy label, McQueen’s silhouettes were cinched in and tailored, while the beauty looks had nods to classical antiquity. In one look, a pair of Hermes gold wings were fastened on to a model’s hair. In another, a model’s hair was fashioned into Minotaur-like horns. Other hair accessories included a pair of golden ram’s horns, worn with a cattle-like nose ring, a winding laurel wreath dipped in gold, and a wig fashioned into a Roman soldier’s helmet.
Thierry Mugler Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 1997
Taking his cues from Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis, and following on from the previous season — which saw his models transform from hard-shelled insects into beautiful butterflies — for the autumn/winter 1997 couture show, Thierry Mugler presented fantastical creatures from another realm entirely. Cue Mugler’s La Chimère, as personified by model Adriana Karembeu. Part animal, part alien, Karembeu wore menacing yellow contact lenses, blue and green metallic eyeshadow that glistened like a beetle’s wings and taken right up on to her hairline, black-winged liner and dark berry lips.
Chanel Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 1999
For the Chanel autumn/winter 1999 couture show, Karl Lagerfeld sent his models down the catwalk in an array of colourful fauxhawks, adding a punk edge to otherwise feminine looks. There was Alek Wek in a white knitted gown and towering white mohawk, Karen Elson in a quilted red shift dress and spiked ginger do, and the bride, Devon Aoki, wore a bright pink ’hawk and a billowing white bridal cape.
Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1999
Yves Saint Laurent’s spring/summer 1999 couture show all came down to its final moment; after a slew of models in smoking jackets, tailored skirts and pussy-bow shirts, their hair pulled back and sleek, their make-up dark and gothic, Saint Laurent’s muse, model Laetitia Casta, suddenly appeared under a canopy of flowers in Botticellian splendour. Dressed in garlands of pink flowers, she wore a wreath in her loose, tousled hair, her cheeks rosy and her lips rouge.
Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2004
For the Christian Dior spring/summer 2004 couture show, John Galliano had his models walking like Egyptians in one of his most dazzling and daring spectacles to date. Dressed as pharaohs, mummies, Egyptian queens and goddesses, models sauntered down the catwalk dripping in gold. Eyebrows were theatrical — thick, black, and arched. Eyes were lined thickly in kohl, eyelids coated in silver and gold glitter, with accents of turquoise in a nod to Cleopatra, while lips shimmered in metallic hues.
Christian Lacroix Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2004
Recalling the fabled Gibson girl, Christian Lacroix’s autumn/winter 2004 couture show was an Edwardian extravaganza. Think billowing Pompadour hairstyles, only supersize and spun like sugar with accents of orange, pink, yellow and green. Pure runway magic.
Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2007
There was something rather divine about Jean-Paul Gaultier’s spring/summer 2007 couture show, in which he cast an array of models as various Virgin Mary types. There was the innocent Mary, mother of Jesus, her hair worn long and wavy and accessorised with a simple halo. Here, make-up was soft; pink or blue around the eyes and rose-stained lips. Next, there was the Madonna/whore, personified by burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese with her red lips, jet-black hair and red nails, three bejewelled tears on her cheek and a crown of roses. Finally, there was Mary, queen of heaven, with her gold-dipped lips, shimmering gold lids, gilt brows and gold crystal tears, her hair swept back in a gold crown.
Givenchy Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2012
Drawing on the format of a high school gym class photo, Riccardo Tisci presented his spring/summer 2012 couture collection in what was styled as a basketball stadium. Dressed in an array of sombre gowns, each model’s hair was scraped back into a chignon, drawing attention to an oversized septum ring or mouthpiece that adorned them, to create a sense of high gothic drama and a touch of the supernatural.
Maison Margiela Artisanal Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2015
Recalling the signature codes of the iconic house, for his first collection at the helm of Margiela, John Galliano sent out models in various degrees of facial embellishments. Starting with crystals just on the eyelids, then around the whole eye, then across the eyebrows, on the lips and chin and hanging from foreheads with strategically placed pearls either side of the nose, finally, it crescendoed with a crystal and pearl-embellished netmask, topped with a crown.
Valentino Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2018
As the famous saying goes, ‘The higher the hair, the closer to God.’ Whether or not legendary hairstylist Guido Palau was hoping for holy communion at Valentino’s autumn/winter 2018 couture show, he certainly captured the rest of the world’s attention with his towering XXL bouffants. Think Jackie O, then double it.
Schiaparelli Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2020
Any Schiaparelli collection could do here. The legendary design house is well known for its visual opulence and sense of theatre, but there was something so beautiful about Look 29 from Daniel Roseberry’s most recent collection that it would be remiss not to include it. In a nod to Elsa Schiaparelli’s love of Trompe-l’œil and other surrealist tropes, make-up artist Erin Parsons covered model Agi Akur’s entire face and body in breathtakingly beautiful embellishments that were mirrored throughout her dress. A real Haute couture moment.
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