Paris’s fall ’20 couture season wasn’t the first fashion week to go virtual since the pandemic — the British Fashion Council hosted a digital London Fashion Week back in June.
But the couture showing was the first time that Paris had to contend with going virtual, and plenty in the industry wanted to know how mega luxury brands like Chanel and Christian Dior would interpret the medium of film to showcase something new — and something ultra-high-end.
Many have questioned why brands would move forward with the couture season, especially as studies have revealed that the steepest declines in consumer spending have come from the wealthy. But even a handful of orders of couture pieces (which often start at $20,000 for daywear and can easily go beyond $100,000) could make the venture worthwhile for a fashion house with a few ultra-high-net-worth clients who are still interested.
When it comes to shoes, couture has always been slightly inconsequential. After all, the hand-made, custom order process rarely makes sense from a footwear production point of view, unless the price tag is above and beyond.
Yet, there were still moments of fantasy, lightness — and insanely beautiful shoes — in this week’s showing. Here are 6 highlights from haute couture week’s fall ’20 season:
1. Amina Muaddi’s glam-rock boots for Alexandre Vauthier
Amina Muaddi is undoubtedly the hottest footwear designer in the industry right now, which makes her longtime collaborative partnership with couturier Alexandre Vauthier even more exhilarating, even if the look is totally impractical for the time. The 2019 FNAA Designer of the Year riffed on some of her recent ’80s-esque ankle boots, doing them up in brightly-hue satin and adding an irreverent sash.
2. Giambattista Valli’s socially-distanced tulle masterpiece
If it ain’t broke… don’t try to fix it during a pandemic. So seemed the message of Valli’s collection, which had plenty of his signature fluffy tulle confections. But it was a particular shot of an extra-long tulle gown in fuchsia, captured at a distance that most can related to now that put the collection into a current perspective, even if it was still pure fantasy.
3. Chanel’s punked-up take on classic two-tones
Most of the conversation — at least artistically speaking — about Chanel lately has had to do with creative director Virginie Viard filling the large shoes of Karl Lagerfeld. She paid homage to him in the brand’s couture collection with a reference to his old stomping grounds of the Parisian boite Le Palace. But we couldn’t take our eyes off the shoes, a heeled style with satin laces, a punk interpretation of the brand’s classic two-tone shoes.
4. Balmain goes boating on the Seine
The week was intended to be digital-only, but Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing decided to take his showing somewhat physical, holding a floating fashion show on Paris’s Seine River. The creative director was also the only couturier to make an explicit statement on the Black Lives Matter movement, inviting French singer Yseult to sing a song titled “Noir” as models walked across the boat deck wearing archival-inspired looks.
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What an incredible feeling it was to see everyone who came to support #BalmainSurSeine. Paris, we are stronger than ever together. It was very important to make this accessible to all. Thank you to all the incredible people involved, including @olivier_rousteing, the models, the dancers, the amazing @yseult___ and special thanks to @jcjousni all the teams on board. WE ARE #BALMAINENSEMBLE
5. Roger Vivier’s flamingo-esque feathered boots
Back at Paris Fashion Week in March, Roger Vivier creative director Gherardo Felloni debuted a series of couture-level boots inspired by Roger Vivier the designer’s original Cuissarde boots, which Brigitte Bardot wore on a Harley Davidson back in 1967. The capsule collection returned for couture week in all its feather-accented glory.
6. Viktor & Rolf’s queen of hearts
Always a social media favorite for its meme-worthy gowns, Viktor & Rolf may have kept its art direction simple with its photography and videography, but it did not disappoint in its cheeky gowns. The best of them were in a series of heart-accented gowns that gave a bit of love where it was needed.