Haute Couture SS13: Frills, Feathers, Pirates and Shower Curtains

Haute couture is a license to be ugly, oh, I’m sorry, unique. Haute couture, by design, is fancy, frivolous, decadent and made-to-order. To quote from a source that would make my former professors redden in fury, Wikipedia puts it thusly:

Haute couture refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable seamstresses, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. “Couture” means dressmaking, sewing, or needlework and is also used as a common abbreviation of haute couture and refers to the same thing in spirit. “Haute” means elegant or high. An haute couture garment is made specifically for the wearer’s measurements and body stance.

Couture houses tend to be huge, huge names and cater to the hefty 1%, because that’s all who could afford even looking at one of the creations. Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture has to bless the fashion house with the right to use the haute couture title, and it’s really supposed to be the crème de la crème of their entire line. It’s sort of like the cherry on top of the sundae, the sherry glaze on top of the whatever sherry glaze goes on top of, the crunchy and caramel part of a crème brûlée, you get the picture. For the most part, the houses really do make gorgeous pieces that make hearts go pitter patter and make imaginations go hubba hubba (if only because normal peons like myself would never be able to wear a couture gown and feel like royalty, which is what I imagine putting on a couture gown would feel like), but sometimes, it’s less cream of the crop and more cream of the crap. Since there are so many people out there gushing about the gorgeous designs of fashion houses, I’ll try to make it less about  my tastes and my gushing (though there will be a lot of that), and more about the possibly rhetorical question of “who the hell would buy this?”



I know that Dior under Raf is such a hot button of controversy, but I personally really like the revival of classic silhouettes from different eras of Dior mixed with Raf’s own touches. Sure, the collection was certainly not without really fugly outfits (see: one, two, and especially three—that last one nearly ruined the whole collection for me), though overall I thought it was a charming take on vintage pieces that made me grin, like I was looking through a vintage Vogue issue. I love Raf for Dior. So there.


Elie Saab

This line has not introduced a new concept since I’ve started paying attention to fashion, but holy shit is it always freaking gorgeous. Lacy and frilly and sparkly and elegant. Always. Sure, some might find it a little boring because of it, however, there is something to staying in the safe zone when it works. They always shift the color palette to be on-trend, they add and subtract sequins based on how fabulous they’re feeling in the preparation months, they’re just good at what they do.

Giambattista Valli

Gimme gimme gimme. I love this collection so much. It’s pretty, luxurious, wearable and I think I’ll be looking for affordable knockoffs of that gorgeous draping and giant nature-inspired necklaces. Dreamy, feminine, playful and fresh. Beautiful.

Ulyana Sergeenko

I call this: Scarlett O’Hara discovers her sexuality and it’s so incredibly unwearable, if incredibly unwearable is synonymous with incredibly awesome. I also read that the Django Unchained soundtrack was playing during the show, which is kinda badass…but again, so unwearable. Sigh.


Zuhair Murad

This collection is so pretty, shiny, gaudy, lacy, frilly, feathery, sheer and sexy. I could add more adjectives if you’d like, but I think you’ve got the picture. I know it’s kind of a mixture of Elie Saab, Valentino, Balmain, Alexander McQueen and other fashion houses, however I think it’s fresh and fun, like if Greek Goddesses were alive today, they’d be draped over a velvet settee wearing these gold-embellished frocks. However, I am not a Greek Goddess or a socialite that will inevitably wear it on the red carpet, and that makes me sad.


Jean Paul Gaultier

JPG always has a couture show that looks like a pirates wet dream, this time ‘round, it’s gypsy pirates, and I’m conflicted. The problem is that it’s all over the place and sloppily put together, which makes it hard to actually appreciate the amazing cast, the global flair and the wearable gowns (that I hope will be red carpet bound). It’s gloriously flashy in the way of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but also gaudy and confusing like a trip into Claire’s.


Some pieces are gorgeous, but for the most part, it’s kind of in the same way of Elie Saab. Same silhouettes, same colors, same fugly horrible shoes, gorgeous gowns, questionable prints, etc etc etc yadda yadda. The main reason that this is in the “meh” category versus the “totally tubular” category is his stupid, gimmicky (what!? K.Lag being gimmicky!? NEVER! Seriously, contain your surprise here.) political statement at the end. Besides, when you compare this collection to something like his SS06 HC collection, there is no comparison. The sometimes flirty days of Chanel are gone, now it’s just Karl giving up on being creative. Shame. Oh well, this collection will be everywhere and more because it’s Chanel and can do no wrong. I guess.



This collection reminded me of a Victorian with expensive taste going to a cocktail party. Did they have cocktail parties back then? Well, probably not, because of the whole no-no-sex-unless-you-count-prostitutes thing, but that’s what it reminds me of. That said, it’s also kind of boring (I guess that’s the Victorian puritanical-ness showing), and that’s why it’s in the “meh” category—but I don’t want to disparage them for being one-note, because it works and is better than some other trainwrecks that have been appearing season after season. I wish they’d add new colors (at least Elie Saab does that), but instead it just kind of reminds me of a Cinderella daydream, just as it always does. It’s just okay, even if it’s gorgeous.


Alexis Mabille

This collection is so hilariously out of touch, so floofy and so dated, that you have to wonder where this brand is going. It’s like the runway version of Pretty Pretty Princess, but in a way that Glinda the Good Witch would call too much.


Maison Martin Margiela

This is a joke. This has to be. No one could design this with a straight face, I’m convinced. It’s incoherent, the silhouettes are sloppy, the concept is hard to decipher and worst of all, it looks like an entry on Regretsy.

Atelier Versace

Without a hint of sarcasm or melodrama, this collection has some of the ugliest dresses I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t know who told Donatella that a mixture of Paris Hilton in Vegas circa-2003, skinned Muppets, Jennifer Lopez in her P.Diddy phase, and discount shower curtains would make a good line of clothes, but they should be hit over the head with one of those clunky looking neon shoes, because this is just tragically hideous…or is it hilariously hideous? My queasiness and my schadenfreude-born smirk tell me it’s a combination of both. It’s so unabashedly and unapologetically cheap looking that I wonder if it was purposefully done, in which case, just leave it in Barbie’s closet and don’t present anything at all.

Georges Chakra

Someone’s been reading Donatella’s handbook! And it’s just as bad as you would guess.

Overall, I’d say I liked more than I hated, but we’ll see how long that lasts. ‘Til next time, y’all.


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