|Valentino: A floral affair|
The show notes read: "In this enchanted garden, the diaphanous albedo of a dream fades away, leaving behind a strong sense of wonder and breathtaking beauty". As the show began, a beautiful piece of classical music directly transported you away to a tranquil, secret garden.
Chiuri and Piccioli did not take their challenge of creating a fairy-tale garden lightly, using crepe piping to ice layers of organza tulle and form the illusion of stately wrought-iron fences. From then on every swirl had the illusion of a winding stem or an ornate garden gate. Black crepe piping created a picturesque, mobile bird cage that stunned the audience within the first two minutes of the show (below). The elegant, caged and floor-trailing cape came complete with dainty birdies to protect, sewn onto a buoyant dove-grey dress.
|A birdcage made from tubing on tulle|
|Chiffon petals, trimmed to look like feathers|
|Cara Delevingne's myrtle, lavender and willow crocheted dress|
|Valentino's dainty daisy chains|
There was a contrasting gloominess to the elegance of the dresses themselves; created by the smudged black eye make-up and intimidatingly long lashes, and the darker-coloured, feathered headpieces that rested over one side of the face. Feathers appeared on many a piece; perhaps to echo the feathery friends that permeate a forest in the spring. But despite the edgier nuance of the collection, Lagerfeld embraced the powerful beauty of flowers like everyone else. They featured as thirties-inspired prints, shapely, glistening appliqués and even topped off tweed jackets in the form of corsages. Bright on black was a key colour contrast, with sequins lifting primary colours, while a monochrome, graphic flower printed flared trouser and jumper combination flew the flag for modern femininity.
Lagerfeld toned down the audacity for his finale, as two models walked hand in hand in bridal attire that was artfully and precisely tattered for the gauzy skirts of the gowns to look like frothy flowerbeds. Joining them was Karl Lagerfeld's beautiful godson, Hudson Kroenig, who stole yet another high-fashion show with his angelic looks and early talent for that model walk.
Despite the dramatic leafy staging, Lagerfeld remained focused on detail, which pinpointed the feel of the collection as true grandeur (with attributes of Helena Bonham Carter). I adored the minute, jewel encrusted butterflies that decorated nude mesh covered shoulders.
|Sequins mixed with three-dimensional flower appliqués|
|Butterflies and feathers alluded to the flora and fauna catwalk trend|
At Paris' Jardin des Tuilieres, Raf Simons succeeded in creating achingly romantic reminders of the delights of spring meadows in full bloom. "I wanted to do a very self-explanatory collection this season. I wanted it to be literally about the season; to be about the very idea of spring," Simons told Harpers Bazaar. The neatly clipped hedges (designed by landscape artist Martin Wirtz) that surrounded a maze-like runway set the scene adequately, yet didn't take away from the clothes, as Simons intended. The simple shrubs mirrored the sleek and clean silhouettes of the fashion house, while a well-manicured floral repetition added interest and a new girlishness to Simons' pieces. The over-sized flower print seen on iridescent organza at Dior Spring RTW was pulled back; this time there was a focus on filigree. Each flower embellishment felt remarkably restrained, in a good way, as Simons has a covetable talent for keeping his couture organic. He kept pieces minimalistic where they should be, and drew the eye where need be with extra streaks of flowers on elbow-length mesh gloves. Charming blossom-like beading and clusters of baby pansies were kept to side panels of dresses or worn on tops with a plain bottom-half, while floral ruffles were at first limited to busts and peplum frills. The delicacy of the stem, blossom and bud embroidered bustiers and square-shouldered sleeveless jackets was just charming, and I loved the sugary-sweet colouring.
|Dreamy flowerbed skirts, and the adorable Hudson Kroenig|
|Baby buds and blossom had a prim and sweet feel|
|Vibrant colours were kept to side panels for a controlled subtlety|
|Statement flower crowns complimented floral appliqués|
|The full effect: individual flower gardens flourished to cover dresses|
Despite the initial frugal use of detail- the floral embroideries evolved gradually as the show went on to cover dresses entirely- the collection lost none of its Dior blue-print. Simons kept his love for volume, using fluid and structured skirts, bubble-hemmed ball gowns, endless peplums and boxy crop-tops. He also added a new dimension to his hair-styling, with the gorgeous floral crowns that rested gracefully on the model's heads.
|Floral artistry at Elie Saab|
Elie Saab delivered his predictable yet eternally-loved selection of fastidiously-crafted fairy-tale gowns, using the natural beauty of botany to enhance his artistry. As often with Saab's designs, there are no words! He will always be appreciated for his ever-lasting skill and eye for what women want. For this season's haute collection, there was not a single jacket or pair of trousers. It embodied the essence of red-carpet splendour- full-length or at least calf-skimming dresses made up of millions of beads, the most luxuriant of fabrics and crystallised floral ornamentation. There are rumours that Dita Von Teese even gasped at Saab's latest creations, entitled: "An Ode To Delicateness".
|Giambattista Valli's foamy, feathered florals|
Seeing as Giambattista Valli's Spring '13 Couture show opened with a flurry of animal prints, I can surely be forgiven for being surprised to see just how amazing the florals were once it was their turn to step into the spotlight. Modern designs of big cat spots and scrupulous shapes morphed into flowing tulle and feathered pastel wonders. There was a wonderful juxtaposition between the frothiness of the flower-covered dresses and the designer's bronze-toned herbaceous headpieces. Models balanced Grecian-look, ornamental crowns on their heads as they walked with poise, which, topped off with the complimentary jewellery alluded to the pulchritude of a forest nymph.
|Bronze headpieces encompassed the designer's Italian grandiosity |
and added a magical feel