lifestyle - Trends 2014: Couture and beyond
Written by Libby Banks
The spring 2014 couture collections offered up plenty of inspirational trends that promise to make their way into our wardrobes during the coming months.
When it comes to jaw-dropping fashion design, it is hard to beat the exquisite concoctions that are paraded on the Paris couture runways.
The venerated art of haute couture is a perfect laboratory for designers because it provides an arena where commercial practicalities and costs take a backseat to innovation, beauty, and fantasy. The spring 2014 couture shows in January set the tone for the year ahead, and it was only a matter of time before the trends spotted on these runways re-emerged at the autumn 2014 ready-to-wear shows that took place during February and March.
We’ve rounded up the key looks for the coming months, and created a handy shopping guide so that you can stay one step ahead of the biggest trends.
Rosa jacquard dress.
This jacquard tea-dress is slightly structured to create a flattering full skirt for a silhouette that looks modern and fresh.
Bridget textured leather shoulder bag.
This dazzling electric-blue carryall features gold hardware and manages to be chic and highly practical. In other words, it’s the perfect day bag.
Handmade in France, these white acetate cat-eye sunglasses feature a sleek gold trim. The slanted retro style emphasises the cheekbones, making them flattering on just about every face shape.
Panelled satin high-top trainers.
A simple and colourful way to incorporate the sports trend into your wardrobe without looking like you’re wearing your gym kit.
Laser-cut leather clutch.
Azzedine Alaïa’s signature cut-work leather never goes out of style, and this clutch, beautifully crafted from white leather, is destined to be a wardrobe staple well beyond 2014.
Perhaps one of the most significant new directions for 2014 has been the focus on sporty elements. Karl Lagerfeld and Raf Simons made the humble (and comfortable) trainer an improbable statement of chic at Chanel and Dior respectively. Simons accessorised feather-light organza ballgowns with embellished slip-on sneakers at Dior. At Chanel, Lagerfeld paired every single outfit with bejewelled and snakeskin trainers – each pair reportedly taking 30 hours to create in Chanel’s atelier. Other sporty flourishes at Chanel included 1980s-style ‘bumbags’ – reworked in silver, and leather kneepads and elbow pads. Meanwhile Viktor & Rolf headed to the dance studio with leotard-inspired slip dresses worn with ballet shoes and modelled en pointe. At the New York ready-to-wear shows, Marc Jacobs presented ultra-clean-cut loungewear paired with – you guessed it – trainers. The sporty theme continued in London, where Tom Ford and Ashish gave sportswear the all-over sequins treatment for a ritzy take on gym-kit staples.
Pale and interesting
Couture shows are traditionally the place where designers showcase their most decadent wedding trousseaux, so a scattering of white and ivory finale gowns is nothing out of the ordinary. But this season there was a markedly pale palette throughout collections. Purest white and powdery blues, pinks and pearl grey dominated shows including Dior, Chanel, Alexis Mabille, Ralph & Russo, Georges Chakra, and Vionnet. The trend continued at New York Fashion Week on the runways of designers including Narciso Rodriguez, Calvin Klein Collection, Ralph Lauren, and Victoria Beckham.
Those designers that did experiment with colour tended to focus on a blue palette. At Atelier Versace there was eye-popping electric blue, while the entire Armani Privé collection, entitled Nomade, was inspired by the midnight blue of North African skies, and at Giambattista Valli a rich delphinium blue was the order of the day. The colour’s prominence continued at the ready-to-wear shows. Gucci focused on powder blue, while Alice Temperley experimented with Delft-inspired combinations of blue and white.
For 2014, many designers took their cues from the world of botany, with intricate blossoms peppering floor-length gowns on the runway. One of Zuhair Murad’s wedding gowns reportedly contained 25,000 floral appliqués in a collection that evoked a mystical garden of camellias, roses, and peonies, complete with fern and vine gold belts. Elie Saab used his signature intricate embellishment to explore the garden theme, with countless delicate silk petals applied to create a dégradé effect on sweeping floor-length gowns in cornflower blue, lilac, and blush pink. Exquisite floral embellishment was also the calling card at Giambattista Valli, who scattered his party-girl cocktail gowns with iridescent three-dimensional floral appliqué. During the ready-to-wear shows, designers played with romantic winter florals accented on dark backgrounds, as perfectly exhibited at Temperley, Oscar de la Renta, Issa, and Tracy Reese’s shows.
Grecian draping that paid homage to celebrated legendary couturiers like Madame Grès and Jeanne Lanvin was also a prominent trend, with intricate pleating, elongated draped silhouettes, and asymmetrical necklines all prominent. At Atelier Versace, modern goddesses walked the runway, draped in fluid silks and embellished with Swarovski crystal. Zuhair Murad combined his naturalistic theme with plissé techniques to create gently draped volumes suggestive of classical dress, and Alexis Mabille brought Greek sculptures to life with immaculate white draped dresses and togas. The appetite for draped elegance continued at the ready-to-wear shows, with Marchesa’s providing some of the most jaw-dropping examples.
The ultra-clean minimalism that has dominated for so long has been usurped in favour of maximalism. The catwalks embraced a mix of bright prints, embellishment, and mismatched layering to create a bold new look. While not for fashion’s faint of heart, it’s a trend that is all about having fun. At the couture shows, it cropped up in numerous guises. At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld generously applied beading and sequins, while the ever-quirky Maison Margiela created strapless gowns from panels of contrasting patterned fabric, and Vionnet demonstrated that layers of contrasting sheer and opaque fabric can look both chic and thoroughly modern. The more-is-more theme continued at the ready-to-wear shows in London, with the likes of Temperley and Burberry enthusiastically layering clashing fabrics. It shouldn’t have worked – but somehow it did.