From the recent menswear shows in London, Paris and Milan we move to the wonders of the Spring Couture 2014 shows with a chance to see what direction some of the leading designers and houses are going to be taking with their women’s couture looks.  These shows can sometimes be very theatrical but the ones I really prefer are the ones that allow the collection to speak directly to me and not be overtaken by lots of other things happenings.

With all the hours that usually go into each couture gown it is wonderful to just sit back and be able to really appreciate the craftsmanship and the attention to detail, whilst also allowing the designers story come through.  This was especially true for the Atelier Versace Couture collection which paid homage to Grace Jones and her love of draping.  This was a collection from from Donatella Versace that once again hit all the right notes and is a collection that would appeal to any woman looking for real glamour when dressing for the red carpet or that exclusive event you might be going to attend…but you would really need to be not bigger than a size 6 to be able to pull off any of these looks.

With slinky flowing gowns that combined cinched waists with sensual draping these were clearly targeted to those stars on the horizon that really wanted to stand out from the crowd. The corsets underneath the gowns and pant suits were made to look almost invisible, consisting of a base of nude tulle embroidered with crystals arranged in thick, geometric lines that made a bold statement. The corsets formed the basis of cocktail outfits, such as an asymmetrically draped powder-blue bustier dress paired with an oversize fox-fur stole.

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The Couture that will surely be soon seen on the red carpets for the rest the awards season!

One of my favourite looks of the show, and there were many, was the closing outfit, a richly embroidered black bustier siren dress topped with a similarly elaborate cropped leather jacket that spoke volumes about the Versace look for this collection and was a triumph in craftsmanship.

The glamour stakes were certainly raised high from the very start, with fur items including an off-the-shoulder belted white fox-and-mink coat with a mesh hood studded with sparkling crystals. There were also some subtler techniques on show, such as the tiny metallic chains that traced anatomic patterns on snug shifts around the body.  The show opened with “Donatella” from Lady Gaga and her recent album ARTPOP – an homage to the designer her self and Gaga was seated front and centre as she also features in the upcoming advertising for the label.

This was a gorgeous show and I am sure as the award season in Hollywood ramps up to the Oscars at the beginning of March we will see some of these looks grace the red carpet!

It would have to be said that launching a new couture label, or in fact re launching a label that has not been in the market place for a few years, in the current climate is risky but the Schiaparelli Couture collection arrived and did not disappoint!  This was never going to be your standard run of the mill couture collection as designer Marco Zanini who was given the job of reviving this fashion house wanted to stamp something of his own personality to the collection and shock with what was presented.

Given the costs involved and the rare skills required to open or reopen a couture range it is a bold and brave move to contemplate it but Marco did this whilst never forgetting the roots of where this label had come from and its long history.  This was a bold new showing and there was very limited referencing to Elsa Schiaparelli’s design legacy which enabled Marco Zanini to be guided by his own inspiration and by the women that he was designing for – something cosmopolitan, witty and irreverent and he succeeded with all three.

The workmanship was superb with the collection.  Even the polka dots on a chiffon duster were drawn by hand. As with any couture range it is about the detail and workmanship that raises the price and reminds you that you are buying something that is a special piece to be delighted in.

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Marco Zanini for Schiaparelli exerting his personal design creativity!

One thing that did get those in attendance talking about was that the headwear and some of the clothes were reminiscent of the work of John Galliano, one of the greatest couturiers  — and said to have been a serious contender for the Schiaparelli crown after his expulsion from Christian Dior but to be fair Marco created a fine first range and I will watch with interest what he comes up with next to see if yet more of his personality is translated into what evolves with his style for this fashion house.