Paris Couture Fashion Week 3.0: Can couture keep its cache(t) in the technology-crazed age?

Published on July 15, 2018

Over this past week, the city of lights glistened in luster, lace, sequins, and feathers galore. For Paris Couture Fashion Week, the lines blur between art and fashion, and style and sculpture. Here’s a roundup of the chic, classy, and conspicuous looks that (practically) flew down the catwalks this week. This three-part series will break down the overarching aesthetic themes presented. Let’s relax, rewind, and revise this past season’s most daring and doubtlessly eye-catching runway shows.  

As technology evolves at an accelerating pace, the lines between (wo)man and machine increasingly blur. The designers mentioned below seem to always question and the status quo and push the envelope and develop creations that fabricate a taste of fashion’s future. Every day, we become entranced and reliant on our smartphone, tablets, and laptops. What does this mean for fashion?

Fashion reflects the modern culture zeitgeist – our attitudes, our behaviors, and values. Accordingly, the modern couture culture inherently is cybernetic. For Couture Fashion Week, the old standby rules of couture creation intertwine with our modern cultural aesthetics. Some designers, however, bring this implicit practice to the surface.

1. Iris Van Herpern

Inspired by birds’ flight patterns, Iris Van Herpen’s organza designs for this past Couture Fashion make us question how science, art, and technology relate to fashion. Spoiler alert: they all are intertwined. However, particularly in the couture sector, Van Herpern has carved out her own unique niche. For this past season, Van Herpen exhibited wiry, web-patterned dresses in a seafoam green, beige, maroon, and black color palette. The wave and fringe detailing gave the futuristic couture an architectural look. Van Herpen regularly makes us question whether we are looking at art, technology, or fashion pieces. Check out the full collection here.

2. Maison Margiela

Creative director, John Galliano, quite literally integrated our technological-reliance into his creations for this past Couture Fashion Week. An iPad was attached to the back of one of the Maison collection jackets and models had iPhones attached to and protruding from their ankles. According to Business of Fashion, Galliano explains that his inspiration for this collection comes from the modern generation of digital nomads. Millennials and Gen Z, as the creative director sees at work in his studio, always are seeking innovation and moving from one place to another. These generations reject rigidity, conformity, and sameness.

For the collection itself, thick fabrics in a plethora of colors and textures were wrapped around each model who stood in platform neon mary-jane heels. The inspiration for this year’s couture collection – the millennial digital nomad who travels the world carrying all of his or her most valuable possessions en route. As always, this Maison Margiela collection does not best lend itself to words, so view the looks in their entirety here.

3. Viktor & Rolf

While this collection did not explicitly showcase smartphones or high-tech gear. For the past two and a half decades, the creative directors,’ Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, have used their haute couture collections as vessels to create wearable art. Now, fashion shows arguably are deemed successful based on their social media appeal. Thus, Viktor and Rolf designs always are on the cusp of the old and the new – the epitome of modern fashion.

For their most recent couture collection, the ensembles included a “mattress” dress, accessorized with literal pillowed on the back, and looks with phrases such as “NO” and “I love you” protruding from and embroidered into the fabric, respectively. Furthermore, these pieces depicted, how in our post-digital world, what we wear reflects our online behaviors and attitudes. In other words, Viktor & Rolf’s couture collection displays a visual interpretation of fashion’s and social media’s symbiotic relationship. See the full collection here.

As our Instagram feeds become more crowded with content, fashion’s most traditional sector still understands the importance of digital image appeal. Our unique senses of style are streamlined down to our individual phone case choices. Accordingly, to compete, brands understand that modern fashions need to be both successful works of art and technology.

Elisa Lewittes is a contributing editor and marketing strategist at Grit Daily. She specializes in the luxury fashion and lifestyle fields. Her other professional interests include business, entrepreneurship, and psychology. Elisa lives in Manhattan, New York.

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