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The symbolic power of haute couture in 2021

As luxury brands are looking to restore their clientele’s optimism at all costs, Haute Couture Maisons are capitalizing on their know-how, their heritage, and their imaginative storytelling for the 2021-2022 Fall-Winter collections.

Sandra Krim

By Sandra Krim07 septembre 2021

The Dior haute couture autumn-winter 2021 collection (Noemi Ottilia Szabo)

Pierpaolo Piccioli, artistic director of the House of Valentino chose to dedicate the Haute Couture 2021 Fall collection to its workshops. Perfectly combining shapes and silhouettes with pure emotion, this collection entitled “Valentino des Ateliers” sheds light on the Italian House’s savoir-faire, in close collaboration with young contemporary artists. At Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri and the ateliers of Avenue Montaigne also achieved technical prowess by highlighting textures such as tweed, pleated fabrics, drapery and multiple exceptional embroideries.

The "Valentino des Ateliers" collection autumn 2021 (Valentino)

Heritage that bets on avant-garde

Heritage, another strong focus, is widely used for the 2021 Fall collections. Indeed, for its first Haute Couture collection - which marked the return of Balenciaga after over fifty years of absence - Demna Gvasalia managed to achieve a double bet of both being decisively modern and completely respectful of Cristòbal Balenciaga’s heritage. While this daring modernity was not far from the aesthetical lines and choices of the brand’s ready-to-wear offer, it was avant-garde when it came to the specific landscape of Haute Couture, especially in terms of androgyny and proportion distortions.

Balenciaga Fall 2021 haute couture collection (Balenciaga)

This clear disruption with Haute Couture’ classical codes was nevertheless balanced by a deep respect of the house’s history and the specific aesthetics of its founder. Demna Gvasalia’s tribute to Balenciaga was symbolically highlighted, up to the title of the collection, named “Fiftieth Haute Couture Collection”, and in the choice of hosting the fashion show in the historic salons of the Maison, Avenue Georges V. The decorations - an identical reproduction, as if it had aged with a beautiful patina over time and the scenography - including absolute silence in the respect of the master’s tradition - were almost a metaphorical oxymoron of Demna Gvasalia’s approach for Balenciaga’s Haute Couture: a visionary tribute.

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