As a London-based stylist, this season was my first to attend the Paris Haute Couture shows, Automne / Hiver 2015-2016 (or Autumn / Winter 2015-2016, as it is otherwise known). Rest assured, it still confuses me what season we're up to as much as it might you! Being a newcomer, I wasn't prepared for how visually captivating the whole experience would be - from the designer hotel interiors I was whisked into - to the couture collections themselves. Yet again I left Paris feeling inspired, as can be expected!
When we think of haute couture, most of us might think of famous brands such as Chanel and Dior, but I found it interesting to see the many sides of couture by attending such extremely different shows. We can see how couture can cater for different tastes.
Ilja AW15/16, "Ingenium Existere": modern haute couture. Structural silhouettes exemplify an attitude of strength and individualism. Trends: feminine lines but structural, rather than floaty, fabrics. Image Stylist's Own.
Rami Al Ali AW15/16: Modern-day Hepburn. Hollywood's Golden Age, 50's silhouettes enhanced by haute couture. Image Totem Fashion.
As a Personal Stylist, a common problem people come to me with is feeling they are 'stuck in a style rut', or like the look of something on the rails, but would like more confidence to carry it off. Sometimes change is not an easy process. We might go home after purchasing an item, thinking 'that's not me, I can't carry it off', and the negative self-talk creeps in. But my job is to push these boundaries - even a little, so they might escape the rut they're tired of, and come away with a fresh look. This is not to tell someone it looks great if it doesn't - but encourage them to try something different, which nevertheless may be slightly out of their comfort-zone.
Couture shows can guide us towards new trends, but show how they can be worn to suit the individual, no matter what their style preference. The aim: to be a trend-setter, not follower.
Serkan Cura AW15/16 : Street couture, haute couture focusing on one half of the body. Trends: oversized crystals (featuring Swarovski), combining day and evening elements. Image Totem Fashion.
Designer showcases are the most extreme examples of individuality and fashion artistry at play. Even down to the flamboyantly-dressed characters in attendance, who are creations of art themselves. But most people don't want to look flamboyant, or stand out from the crowd. So how do we adopt the trends so they are 'wearable'? This can seem complicated, not to mention time-consuming. A good personal stylist can help by doing the leg-work to find trends that would suit the individual (so you won't have to!).
Before we even begin thinking about escaping a style rut, however, the first step is attitude.
Designer Bowie Wong's message from his AW15/16 show 'Metamorphosis': "Free yourself from restrictions and don't get stuck in one shell. Be inspired to transform. Go your own way and fly free." Image Stylist's Own.
The designer believes the magic of haute couture is it's ability to transport us into a fairytale. It's not only enjoyable to be transported out of every day routines and realities but needed. We can see the power of haute couture to inspire not just stylists or people who work in fashion (or the elite few who can afford to buy it), but everyone.
Julien Fournie AW15/16 "Premiere Nuit". Parisian Couture of dark enchantment, featuring winged headpiece. Image Stylist's Own.
Eva Minge AW15/16 'Black Butterflies'. Butterflies are symbols of change, growth and freedom. Her empowering vision of the modern woman: whilst black butterflies might be soft and beautiful, they are bold and strong. Me (left) pictured with a "black butterfly", lead model. Image Stylist's Own.
Looking at the shows can help us adjust to emerging trends, so by the time we see them in stores we can more easily imagine ourselves wearing them. I think sometimes we're too scared to try on something different to what we're used to, and from what we've liked in the past. Seeing each designer's stretch of imagination - taking risks through fashion, will hopefully make us more confident to take, even the smallest one.
Charlie Le Mindu AW15/16 'The Male Gaze'. A grand spectacle of Hair Couture, fusing digital and live performance. Image Totem Fashion.