Mara Behrens is the creative director of revolutionary new e-tail site Modewalk.com, which showcases couture alongside luxury designer labels and facilitates couture appointments in Paris and beyond. Her site highlights some of the smaller, up-and-coming couturiers designers that we don't always hear about as much as the Diors and the Chanels, so when she offered to give us her exclusive behind-the-scenes account of her couture week experience we jumped at the chance to learn a little more about them. Here's her diary from the week!
Paris is one of those cities that has always fascinated me. It has a very special essence that beats at my same rhythm and makes me feel alive! I adore its discreet hidden corners that also manage to have a majestic air. It makes all the sense in the world to be witnessing this year’s Haute Couture collections in this palatial city. I was fortunate enough to have a front row and backstage access to some of the best. Being able to look at the level of detail in each individual piece from so close was a privilege. It’s truly hand-made art. As a creative director I know that finding the perfect aesthetic balance is far from easy and I was pleasantly surprised to see how these designers achieve the perfect harmony between their point of view and superb craftsmanship.
Photos: Mara Behrens
The first show I went to was Christophe Josse in the heart of Parisian intellectual life: an old library in the Sorbonne. The sober high ceilings made for the perfect setting for his outstanding collection. I was captivated by the feminine aura of his pieces. We appreciate the finesse and subtle elegance he has brought to Modewalk, where we've showcased his clothes from our beginning. This collection was no exception. It was full of elaborate details, the use of multiple textures like feathers and crocodile skins harmonized with his romantic female silhouette. I love how he played with strong accents like a bold, golden belt that couldn’t go unnoticed. It demonstrated the perfect tension between subtlety and strength.
I later went to Bouchra Jarrar’s show. I am extremely excited that this amazing designer is coming to Modewalk.com this Fall. The setting was bright with open spaces and high ceilings at the Musee Bourdelle, the perfect match to her impressive collection. The wonderfully tailored pieces created the perfect feminine shape. I was in absolute awe of her simple, honest lines, her amazing craftsmanship and her exquisite creativity in the smallest details.
At the end of that first day, at the Hotel Shangri-La, a star-studded and grandiose space, I watched Alexis Mabille’s Haute Couture collection, another of our featured designers. It was exciting and informative to be backstage at this impressive event, looking at the care and effort that goes into his show. The models wore their hair up, with hanging crystals, resembling walking chandeliers. The make-up was clean and the collection was very beautiful. A mix of extremely complex pieces and some others more simple and timeless.
The second day I went to see Gustavo Lins, one of my favorite Modewalk.com designers, at the Consulate of Brazil in Paris. What I’ve always loved about Gustavo is his ability to create complex drapery that looks simple and elegant. His architectural background helps him bring balance and structure to his pieces. This year he accentuated his pieces with giant ceramic jewelry and colored fur, presenting a bold statement.
In the late afternoon it was Alexander Vauthier’s turn at the Muséum National d’Histoire. Located at the wonderful Jardin des Plantes, the collection was based in gold, white and soft beige tones with his well-known sensuous cuts that frame the female silhouette. It was an astounding collection full of wondrous and fulfilling moments. Long chains to the waist, white furs, open backs and long V-necks boldly framed the female figure.
The last day I had great fun at the Palais Royal with On Aura Tout Vu. The stage was in a gorgeous patio at the palace. It included furs, pikes and embroidery. There was also impressive head pieces made out of metal and chains that brought a lot of theatrics to the event. Short, draped dresses; long, open evening gowns in bright colors; and expressive highlights like spiked shoes and metallic shoulder pads made it one of the most unforgettable shows that included at the end of the event some mythological creatures.
The perfect finale to my Haute Couture experience this season was seeing Yiqing Yin’s collection. Ethereal and sensual, every detail was carefully elaborated, making each piece look like an individual work of art. At the Espace San Martin at the 3e Arrondissement the setting was all black, a perfect canvas for Yin’s collection. The variety of colors reminded me of the highest quality granite and marble that dresses Parisian palaces. Yin was able to create volume with gorgeous fabrics that showcased incredibly elaborate patterns. We are thrilled that she is coming to Modewalk.com for the Fall/Winter season.
I also had the opportunity to visit a few ateliers and meet with some of the designers..i.e, Josse, Mabille and Bouchra. I was even more amazed when looking at each individual piece closely. I am looking forward to next season’s collections. I am ready to be amazed and surprised, again.