The 10 most extravagant shows from Couture Fall 2016

Charles Frederick Worth is widely considered to be the founding father of what we know as haute couture today. In French, haute couture simply translates into high-end fashion, but today it’s come to mean so much more. These exquisite pieces of clothing, once reserved for the wealthy and aristocratic, are now considered the ultimate in bespoke and tailor-made garments.

Various designers have since followed in Worth’s footsteps, most notably Paul Poiret, Vionnet and Jean Patou, as well as those with fashion houses that still exist today, such as Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior. While in today’s context, haute couture is still known as highly tailored, custom-fitted fashion, it is also known for its creativity, intricacy and detailing, all of which can be seen during Couture week in paris.

With that in mind, we look at the 10 most dazzling shows presented during the recently completed Couture shows.

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Celebrating their 90th anniversary with a show staged in their hometown of Rome, Fendi brought couture to the Trevi Fountain in an astounding show that saw models “walk on water.” An iconic, historic location never before used for a fashion show, the landmark was chosen because it “expresses our roots and DNA while transmitting daring creativity and craftsmanship,” said Pietro Beccari, CEO of Fendi.

Titled “The Legends and Fairy Tales,” Fendi’s couture fourrure collection was based on fairy tales and magical, where princes and princesses, decked out in luxurious furs and exquisite gowns, roamed around an enchanted forest.

Delicate hues of baby pink and white organza and silk gowns were stitched with interesting floral motif-like furs, while precious cashmere and mink fur coats are seen in darker shades, often printed with the night skyline and garden illusions that created a sense of enigma and secrecy.


Atelier Versace 

When we think about Versace, we usually associate it with leather, daring and provocation. However for this collection, what Donatella Versace presented was focused more on fabric drapery and less on looks that were overtly sexual.

Opening the show with blush pink and mint-green satin lapels, there was still a level of sexiness in the off-shoulder looks but definitely less out there and a bit more conservative.

Draping was everywhere, from necklines curling down the sheaths (and intertwined in Bella Hadid’s legs for miles) and in satin belts tied at the waist. Another interesting highlight was the unusual colour combinations; gold paired with lilac and crimson with baby blue.



Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel shows have always been interesting, from Resort 2017’s Cuban show, to its Italian Métiers d’Art collection and of course, their unforgettable iconic supermarket runway. This time for Fall 2016 couture, Lagerfeld pays tribute to those who create behind-the-scenes — the seamstresses in tailoring and dressmaking who bring to life the clothes.

Staged to resemble an atelier, this couture collection was defined by a sleek and pure silhouette. For example, Chanel’s iconic tweed jackets were given a more cinched waist for a more form fitting look that accentuated the female figure.

The highlight of the collection was “the bride,” re-envisioned by Lagerfeld as a modern woman in satin trousers instead of a gown, coupled with a train filled with embroidered baby pink feathers.



Founder of Aouadi, Yacine Aouadi showcased his third collection in Spain at the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, Spain. A World Heritage Site that has been a place for both Muslims and Christians to worship at over the centuries, the site was perfect to present his 13-look collection that combined both moorish elements and renaissance style to establish “a good message of peace.”

Moorish-like elements are seen in the embroidery on the deep auburn, dark purple and emerald satin dresses, alongside a carpet that called to mind the romance of Arabian Nights. The rigidity of the pieces seemed to be a nod to a knight’s armour from the Renaissance era.


Christian Dior

Ever since the departure of Raf Simons from Christian Dior, duo Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux have been at the helm of the brand, doing a pretty good job of keeping the brand going. The set for couture this season was a sea of white, with only certain areas glazed in gold paint that seemed designed to look accidental or spontaneous.

Held in the couture salon at 30 Avenue Montaigne, this collection was designed to commemorate the vast knowledge and skills behind the craftsmanship at Dior.

The main inspiration behind the collection was the New Look’s “Bar Suit”, which was a popular post-war look during the late forties and fifties. This resulted in lots of hourglass jackets and voluminous skirts, which were key garments to this iconic look.


Maison Margiela 

John Galliano’s surrealistic creations for Maison Margiela couture this season injected elements of au courant streetwear ingeniously intertwined with a French Revolution theme, with clothes that could have been pulled out of Napoleon’s own closet.

Thigh-high combat boots had a military air about them, while the high-waist, billowy clothes definitely had a post-Revolutionary (re: anti-corset), 18th century style about them.

The off-shoulder, tile-printed gown that was one of the most eye-catching looks of the show, was clearly inspired by the French Revolution but featured an oversized streetwear vibe — perhaps something you would wear while roaming (or dancing) around some Rococo architecture.



Prior to Maria Grazia Chiuri’s departure, she and co-Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli commemorated the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death by exploring theatrum mundi with their couture collection.

With an Elizabethan-themed, the collection was not so much about the playwright, protagonists or plots of his famous works, but more about the essence of emotion, captured within.

Translated into fashion, this became dense and austere tones coupled with opulent and dark colours to reflect power and masculinity in a Shakespearian world. High white ruffs were worn with puffed sleeves and paired with sages priestess robes with intricate English Renaissance brocade. Billowy and bouffant dresses with romanticised elements also reminded us of one of Shakespeare’s most iconic plays, Romeo and Juliet.



Basing his first couture collection on English aristocrat and upperclass society hostess, Lady Ottoline Morrell, Giles Deacon created pieces that were both flirtatious and flamboyant featuring huge voluminous gowns in luxurious satin inspired by the 19th century.

Using this society lady his main inspiration, the collection seemed designed for the English female aristocrat from the 1800s — like a Romantic version of Gossip Girl.

Giles’ collection also included eclectic yet opulent evening wear in cerulean shibori prints and cape gowns with mustard floral brocade and black spider lily-like embroidery.


Elie Saab

The sparkle and shimmer of New York, the city that never sleeps, was an inspiration for Elie Saab, perhaps commemorating his first American 4,000 square-foot store located at Madison Avenue, soon to open in 2017. The city’s brightly-lit skyscrapers and skyline were seen in extensive and decorative embroidery on the gowns.

But the biggest highlight of the show was the mom-and-daughter matching gowns, with models and their mini-mes headed down the runway together.

Lush velvet and organza beaded with intricate embroidery were everywhere. Also of note, the mini versions of the dresses worn by the “daughters” were just as extravagant as those for the big girls.



For his third couture collection at Schiaparelli, Betrand Guyon revisits Elsa Schiaparelli’s circus collection circa 1938. At that time, in the post-World War I era, the designer had some great expectations resting on her shoulders, alongside (possible fashion rival) Coco Chanel.

For the collection, this translates into a respectful showcase of her legacy in the form of acrobat motifs embroidered onto a two-piece black tailored suiting, as well as intricate embellishments on dresses in the form of various theatrical animals and inanimate objects (whimsical ferris wheels, for example). Surreal motifs were also in play, highlighting the fantastical elements often associated with Schiaparelli’s work.