Friday, January 25, 2013

Spotlight: Valentino Haute Couture S/S 2013

If you're a fashion watcher then you know full well that the Spring 2013 round of haute couture shows were held in Paris this week. I find that not a lot of people truly understand what haute couture or couture means. Who can blame them when you have brands bastardizing the word (rhymes with Lucy) and every Real Housewife from New York to Orange Country has a "couture" clothing line? Barf.

Did you know that there is actually a governing body in France that issues couture licenses to only a select group of designers? It's true. Paris doesn't mess around. Haute couture fashion houses must also follow a set of rules:
  • Design made-to-order for private clients with one or more fittings;
  • Have an atelier in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full time;
  • Must have twenty full-time technical people in at least one atelier;
  • Each season (twice a year) must present thirty five looks, both day and evening, to the Paris press. 
Pretty major, right? Couture looks take hundreds, sometimes thousands, of hours to produce and always contain a certain amount of work that is done by hand. Some may think it's a little ridiculous that fashion has rules and laws, but those of us who appreciate fashion as art understand. When you consider that the criteria for haute couture designers has been in place since 1945 and wasn't amended until 1992, the totality of how special and important it is to be a couture designer sinks in. I thank Wikipedia for  the preceding information. Now let's talk about some clothes.

The house of Valentino has been in transition since its founder, Valentino Garavani, retired as creative director in 2008. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have gallantly been at the helm since. It took a few seasons, but I think they've finally come into their own and they're doing exquisite work. Their Spring 2013 offering is complete perfection from start to finish. Piccioli said in the show notes, "Couture has to be magical." If there is a better adjective to describe this collection, please share. Here are my favorite looks (all images via

The overlay is all hand rolled.

If Anne Hathaway doesn't wear this to the Oscars I will go on a hunger strike until Rachel Zoe tells me why.


Hello, wedding dress.

I really love that they kept the color palette fresh with mostly black or white looks. It makes the signature Valentino red pieces stand out even more. The red strapless gown is one of the most perfectly simple looks I've seen in the last few seasons. I don't think there's any doubt that Anne Hathaway will be walking away with an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress on February 24th and she could have a real historical fashion moment in that dress. Rachel Zoe, I hope you're reading this.

This Valentino collection is proof positive why haute couture fashion deserves to be regulated, exalted, preserved, and given special treatment. Beauty like this should always have a place in the world.

You can have a look at the other haute couture collections here. Elie Saab and Giambattista Valli are also well worth a look.

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