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Beyond the Runway: The Sets of Paris Couture Week - Jean-Marc Fray Antiques
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“Haute couture is a dream, a fantasy. To keep the ateliers alive is to keep a legacy of craftsmanship alive, too.” –Maria Grazia Chiuri, Creative Director for Dior

From January 22-25, 2018, Paris Couture Week stunned attendees and fashion enthusiasts with extravagant haute couture designs. Clare Waight Keller, Artistic Director for the House of Givenchy, has described haute couture as “an open book.” The stories of the clothing are steeped in the history of the ateliers and craftsmen, and evoke emotion through the imaginative beauty of fashion turned into art. The settings of the shows are more than just a backdrop, they emanate the tone of the show. Each location must draw attention and look incredible, while also directing the eye to the show stopping pieces on the runway.

Chanel

The Chanel show was held at the Grand Palais, and the set modeled a classic French garden with rose covered pergolas, fountains, and sandy paths for runways. The featured silhouettes ranged in shape and form, but each mimicked the garden theme with pastel colors and pretty spring details. Lagerfeld’s ambition came through in both the setting and designs.

Dior

The Dior runway was located in the Musée Rodin, with a black and white color scheme emphasized by bird cages and sculptural body parts floating above the guests. The surrealist effect was carried over into the gowns, described by Vogue as a “graphic, architectural assembly rendered almost exclusively in black and white.”

Valentino

Held at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, the Valentino show is being lauded by many as one of the best couture shows in years. Playing off of and contrasting with the classic French setting, each piece was a modern interpretation of couture. With bright colors, billowing trousers, and fantasy, the Valentino show created a classically conceptualized look for the modern woman, while honoring the history of couture and its craftsman.

Givenchy

For Givenchy’s show, a mysterious chateau in the Marais district was the backdrop. The edgy music and dark setting merged the past with the future as the new creative director brought back the shape and form of Givenchy’s previous designers and infused them with modern touches. The whole show radiated dark romance.

With many shows throughout the city, Paris embodies the feeling of couture during this week. The emphasis is on blending modern aesthetics with the history and craftsmanship of the past. The settings of each show do more than give a location to view the runway, they create a feeling of living art.