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What Paris’s Couture Collections Say About Fashion in 2022

Paris, the fashion capital of the world, is wrapping up one of its most glamorous weeks of the year: couture season. The subset of Paris Fashion Week, which  involves a curated group of designers selected by France’s prestigious Fédéracion de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM), showcases collections to the highest tier of customers, with looks that are ordered as custom made and hand-tailored exactly to the wearer, and often sold as exclusives.

Couture has always been a very exclusive affair, from Christian Dior’s “New Look” heyday in 1947 to the excess of experimental fashion in the ’80s and early ’90s (including the collections of the late Thierry Mugler, whose fall 1995 couture collection and 20th anniversary celebration has been hailed by the industry as one of the most important shows in fashion history.)

Both social media and the appearance of certain celebrities on the front row have opened up the world of couture to the public, giving high fashion a chance to trickle down even faster through the industry’s ecosystem. The looks may still be cost-prohibitive to most, but here five ways that this season’s spring ’22 couture collections might influence fashion for the rest of 2022.

Life is surreal — and so is fashion now

The undercurrent of uncertainty that has permeated all industries (and the stock market) during the Omicron wave has also trickled into fashion, where designers looked at the world from a slightly dystopian — but not necessarily pessimistic — point of view. At Viktor & Rolf, the designers took their usual shock approach and gave it a creepier tone, with gowns and evening suits with shoulders at ear level with the models who wore them. Meanwhile, at Schiaparelli, creative director Daniel Roseberry continues to use jewelry and hardware to show us that the world is just not what it seems anymore — in a fascinating way.

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A “surreal shoulder” at Viktor & Rolf spring ’22 couture.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Viktor & Rolf

Couture is not just for women anymore

Men’s and women’s fashion is melding together more than ever before in modern times, and the latest collections are proving that men can also live the fantasy of couture, whether it’s with a bejeweled cape, outerwear with a twist or a unisex platform brogue. For the third time, Valentino presented its couture collection with a menswear component, offering luxe updates on classic tailoring, such as sequined trousers with cashmere-wool jacket, or a crisp white shirt with matching crisp white sneakers. At Azzaro, creative director Olivier Theyskens showed a series of satin and fully-sequined suits on both men and women, a nod to the brand’s growing menswear business and a true sign of the times.

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A sequined men’s suit, which was shown with a corresponding women’s sequined suit at Azzaro spring ’22 couture.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Azzaro

The next party shoe will probably have sequins on it

Sequins may be an evergreen staple for the true fashion magpie, but for everyone else it has its trend cycle. The embellishment may be making a big comeback in 2022, though, and not just on the occasional mini dress or going-out top. At Alexandre Vauthier’s spring ’22 couture collection, the capsule of footwear from Giuseppe Zanotti (part of an ongoing partnership that began last year for the French couturier’s spring ’21 collection) was heavy on sequins, feathers and crystal accents, pointing to a more-is-more outlook on the going-out heel for 2022.

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Bejeweled boots by Giuseppe Zanotti on the runway at Alexandre Vauthier spring ’22 couture.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Alexandre Vauthier
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Sequined boots by Giuseppe Zanotti to match a sequin look at Alexandre Vauthier spring ’22 couture.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Alexandre Vauthier

We may be wearing more white this summer

The resounding color trend of the spring ’22 couture season is white. It could be seen on the runway at Dior, in a cream hue on a monastical collarless and floor-length coat with matching wide trousers, or as a minidress with a deep décolletage cutout and cutout thigh-high boots at Valentino. After a few years of uncertainty — and a somewhat premature push into a new “roaring twenties,” perhaps a palate cleanser is just the thing for 2022.

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Clean lines at Christian Dior spring ’22 couture.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Christian Dior
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Cutout boots at Valentino spring ’22 couture.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Valentino

The riding boot could soon make a comeback

As Y2K fashion trends cycle back, so do key footwear styles such as the thong heel and the square toe. The once-ubiquitous mid-2000s riding boot could be just around the corner. Chanel took the theme quite literally, opening its spring ’22 couture show with Charlotte Casiraghi on a real, live horse, wearing a black tweed suit with a pair of leather riding boots. Fashion insiders may have pointed to a distinct Hermès homage in the moment, but Chanel may just be on to a larger footwear trend for the coming year.

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Casiraghi on the runway at Chanel spring ’22 couture in a tweed look with leather riding boots.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Chanel
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