From Paris, Couture With a Human Touch


In February 1938 Schiaparelli presented her famous Circus collection, pieces of which are currently on display in the “Shocking!” Exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Fashion, too, is a traveling show, and this season—at Chanel, Schiaparelli, Armani Privé, and Valentino—ringmasters and circus animals appeared in the collections, as did harlequins and the sad clown Pierrot. There’s no doubt we are living through a challenging and transformative moment, and that fact weighed heavily on some designers’ minds.

“We’re living at a crossroads which makes for anxious times,” Alexandre Vauthier generalized. Iris van Herpen, for her part, got specific, explaining that her presentation was “an ode to the demonstrations in Iran.” In talking to our reviewers many couturiers felt there was something like a moral imperative in creation, as Ronald van der Kemp opined: “As designers we have so much influence on people’s behavior, because fashion is such a force today. We have to use it responsibly, positively as a driver of change.”

One way to give viewers and clients a “change” is through escapism. But if Valentino’s Club Couture celebrated the loucheness of nightlife, it also was an extension of Pierpaolo Piccioli’s humanistic approach. “I love the idea of a club, but it’s a club for today,” he said, expanding, I’m “thinking of inclusivity as welcoming people for who they are, and who they want to be. So it’s an invitation to be free to be what you want.”

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