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The 9 Most Critically Acclaimed Shows of Couture Week

In case you were captivated by another type of pyrotechnics this past week, Fashion Week Report Card has your handily reductive recap of all the fashion with a capital "F" that went down the couture runways in Paris this week--from comebacks (Christian Lacroix, Viktor & Rolf, Naomi Campbell) to Christian Dior's clever play on world domination.
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In case you were captivated by another type of pyrotechnics this past week, Fashion Week Report Card has your handily reductive recap of all the fashion with a capital "F" that went down the couture runways in Paris this week--from comebacks (Christian Lacroix, Viktor & Rolf, Naomi Campbell) to Christian Dior's clever play on world domination.

Versace Designer: Donatella Versace

  • "Donatella Versace's autumn 2013/winter 2014 couture collection wallowed in a sense of unashamed luxury." [AFP]
  • "Among all the wanton razzmatazz, several of the looks were highly wearable and combined Versace’s exuberance with some fine tailoring." [Associated Press]
  • "Both the clothes and Campbell withstood close scrutiny well." [

    The Daily Telegraph]

  • "As she stepped out in her own new season designs to take her bows Donatella herself embodied the aesthetic perfectly. No one would want to mess with a woman wearing these clothes." [Grazia Daily]
  • "There’s an interesting aspect of erotic cruelty in Ms. Versace’s clothes, one associated with horror films and made explicit with the black and deep red tones. Whether or not she was conscious of it, having a woman as the manipulator of such a disturbing fantasy is something rare in fashion, and, of course, it’s also empowering." [The New York Times]
  • "Donatella Versace produced a sparkling and oh so sexy show that was Versace couture with a capital V." [NOWFASHION]
  • "Easily Donatella's most confident since she returned to couture a year and a half ago." []
  • "People who don’t work in fashion think every show is like this. Let them dream it is." [SHOWstudio]
  • "This was Versace’s classiest demonstration of its couture capabilities in a long time, one that took the high ground on the inimitable Versace notion of body-con, made a passing nod to the early nineties, and then added enough giant diamond chains, medusa-head medallions, and starburst earrings to magnetize all the ladies of the modern rap community in a flash." []
  • "What it lacked in aggression it made up for in super tight and seductive silhouettes, everything cut to within an inch of its life to make the sorts of clothes perfect for flaunting 'it'--if you’ve got it." [ UK]
  • "The overall result was an elegant rendering of Versace’s sexy vernacular." [WWD]

Christian Dior Designer: Raf Simons

  • "Christian Dior artistic director Raf Simons on Monday unveiled a collection full of multicultural influences, in what the designer acknowledged was a step away from Dior's exclusively French sense of itself." [AFP]
  • "Christian Dior’s Raf Simons broke through the walls of Avenue Montaigne to send the fashion house on a journey across the four corners of the globe." [The Associated Press]
  • "Raf Simons continues to prove his loyalty to the DNA of Christian Dior with today's Couture showing, paying homage to the staples of the legendary fashion house with his own stamp on the classics." [Daily Front Row]
  • "The extraordinary thing about Raf Simons is how fast he has redirected Dior’s vision." (
  • "A year into his reign at Christian Dior, Raf Simons' mission to shake up the fashion world is still gathering speed." [

    The Guardian]

  • "The models were laughing, the flowers were blooming and although Kanye West’s aggressive rap music with its mean lyrics was still pulsating, all seemed right with Christian Dior’s haute couture world." (International Herald Tribune)
  • "The designer began this journey by asking a key question: What is haute couture? It’s a question that was long overdue." [On The Runway/The New York Times]
  • "Brilliantly, this show was anything but polite. It was a total revelation." [SHOWstudio]
  • "Raf Simons was always going to bring a new sensibility to couture, but just how new was made dazzlingly clear with his show for Christian Dior today." []
  • "What the whole might have lacked in total coherence was more than made up for in the believability of every piece. Simons is outward-looking, keen to learn, and to tune into the lives of modern women; it’s easy to imagine his reality-couture being snapped up and worn in the four corners of the wealthy world." []
  • "This was Dior as seen through the filter of an African tribesman or a Geisha girl." [ UK]
  • "As a statement of freedom and creative control of the house--wonderful! As a collection--interesting and provocative, yet disjointed and even dizzying at times." [WWD]

Elsa Schiaparelli Designer: Christian Lacroix

  • "The house of the influential fashion designer is being revived this year, and Monday saw famed couturier Christian Lacroix rise to the challenge of creating 18 dresses for a presentation entitled 'Homage to Elsa.'" [The Associated Press]
  • "Lacroix was a fitting choice to kick off the latest incarnation of the Schiaparelli maison." [The Daily Beast]
  • "The appointment of Lacroix to create this curtain-raiser for the Schiaparelli brand was inspired. There are natural synergies between Lacroix's aesthetic and that of Elsa herself, particularly in gloriously eccentric colour combinations (billiard green with Shocking pink, paprika red with electric blue) and flamboyant silhouettes untramelled by narrow metropolitan ideas of chic." [

    The Guardian]

  • "Alas, the items will not be reproduced." [On The Runway/The New York Times]
  • "The Lacroix-Schiap collaboration is intended as a one-off extravaganza (Marco Zanini, late of Rochas, will be taking over the ready-to-wear direction of the house), but these enchanting pieces remind one what the couture week lost when Lacroix closed his own house, and make one yearn for this to be an ongoing experiment." []
  • "Lacroix is a brilliant couturier who supplied the haute genre with some of its most memorable moments. It’s a pleasure to take in and wonder at his creations. This lineup bore all of his distinctive markings: high drama, lavish detail, impeccable execution and distinctive fantasy element intrinsic to his work. What it lacked was a point, at least one that could be articulated clearly." [WWD]

Giambattista Valli Designer: Giambattista Valli

  • "With bold and refreshing sense of femininity, Giambattista Valli produced what could well be one of his strongest haute couture shows to date for fall-winter." [The Associated Press]
  • "Valli sent out pieces of such extreme sweetness, femininity and youthfulness, it was a further reminder that only his clients might do them justice." []
  • "You may need to bone up on your fine china to better appreciate Giambattista Valli’s fall haute couture collection. He based some of his garland-embroidered dresses and sweet dresses on Sèvres, Meissen and Wedgwood plates, among others in the cupboard." (On The Runway/

    The New York Times)

  • "'Flowers and colors are what women want from me,' Giambattista Valli said before his couture show—his fifth, the program notes reminded us. 'That's what I give them, but every time I get inspired by something different.' The something different tonight was porcelain." []
  • "Giambattista Valli was thinking of 'porcelain goddesses' for his appropriately fragile and delicate haute couture show, its runway decorated with classical statuary draped in garlands of white hydrangea." []
  • "Brides-to-be will have their hearts set on a Giambattista Valli couture gown this season - so supremely feminine, pretty and floral was his collection today that even the hardest of hearts would be a little broken by his ability with blooms, bows, lace and all things frou." [ UK]
  • "Cherubs alighted on garden statuary, which had been draped in cream-colored garlands. Giambattista Valli’s dewy beauties roamed among them, wearing his sweetest couture confections yet." [WWD]

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Armani Privé Designer: Giorgio Armani

  • "Giorgio Armani seemed to strip the body bare in a classic couture collection Tuesday that came with a twist and was entitled simply, 'Nude.'" [Associated Press]
  • "The focus was more specifically nude. It’s a subtle tone and somewhat limiting, but Armani managed to work with it for almost the entire collection." [The Daily Beast]
  • "It showed Mr Armani and his atelier at their most subtle and delicate best." []
  • "Perhaps with dressing a new generation of A-listers in mind, there was an ethereal lightness to much of the work--and indeed the workmanship involved in its creation--that was good to see." [Grazia Daily]
  • "This season, Armani got to grips with the sensuality that is so integral to haute couture." [

    The Independent]

  • "Elegant it most certainly was." []
  • "So: Think of the name Giorgio Armani and what it conjures. Gray, austere, superefficient pantsuited tailoring for the professional woman would be one likely image. Well, scrub that. This evening, he delivered something wholly opposite: softness, sensitivity, delicacy, romance—a sustained tour de force of utterly lovely dresses." []
  • "It was indeed a medley of shades that wandered on the paler side of the spectrum: flesh, oyster and pearl with smatterings of black only to break it all up." [ UK]
  • "Taking a breather from futuristic experiments and far-flung multicultural references, Giorgio Armani went back to terra firma--Thirties glamour--and delivered one of his strongest Privé collections in recent seasons." [WWD]

Chanel Designer: Karl Lagerfeld

  • "A modernist couture collection." {AFP]
  • "A dark, expressionist-tinged fall-winter 2013 collection." [Associated Press]
  • "Drop-waisted, flared short skirts, sometimes layered over longer ones, worn with wide grey Perspex belts, and slim jackets featuring either Nehru or small, square collars looked especially wearable and relevant." [

    The Daily Telegraph]

  • "Decaying, dusty grandeur might be the last thing you’d expect to see at the Paris haute couture, where a single dress might cost upwards of £100,000, but the effect--with an opera medley playing in the background--was magical." []
  • "Once again the couturier maintained all signatures while moving things forward." [Grazia Daily]
  • "The effect--especially when the sun caught the rows of tiny sequins, fracturing the light in the way that sunlight catches on glass--was that the models looked like walking versions of the buildings on the theatrical backdrop." [The Guardian]
  • "The most interesting thing chez Chanel was the overriding focus on daywear. It's something other couture houses woefully forget." [The Independent]
  • "The show was dynamic, not melancholy, in spite of the lush operatic music of 'La Traviata' on the initial soundtrack. Even the tweed suits — often not wool, but woven effects created by embroidery--had an eerie silver gleam." [International Herald Tribune]
  • "The old gave direction to the new and, as well, a kind of harmony that Mr. Lagerfeld knows how to achieve." [On The Runway/The New York Times]
  • "There were period proportions and details—fichus, portrait necklines, volumes and silhouettes that evoked Victoriana, Edwardiana, Something-Elsiana—but there were also fabrics that were not of this world: eerie, diaphanous stuff, glittering circuitry, 3-D effects that felt like Escher." []
  • "Clothes that married the superb haute couture craftsmanship of Chanel’s storied ateliers and the craftspeople who work with them ... with Lagerfeld’s modernist vision of textile innovation, from the washed and crumpled luxe silk failles to the woven and embroidered fabrics so elaborately built up that they resembled multimedia artworks." []
  • "What’s admirable about Karl is he’s always looking towards something new, pressing forward--and we imagine there’d be few that wouldn’t want to join him on that journey." [ UK]
  • "The old and gray provided entrée to the new and dazzling." [WWD]

Jean Paul Gaultier Designer: Jean Paul Gaultier

  • "With a delicious purr, Gaultier pounced back into top form with a feisty couture collection, proving that despite a couple of off seasons, he still has a lot of tricks up his embroidered sleeve." [Associated Press]
  • "Gaultier’s vampy extravaganza was a bold-as-brass tribute to larger-than-life heroines and superwomen. And big cats." []
  • "It sometimes feels like things get lost in translation at the haute couture. Jean Paul Gaultier is a case in point: his shows are Francophile to the point of incomprehension." [

    The Independent]

  • "There was nothing much shy about Jean-Paul Gaultier's haute couture collection. Instead, 'sauvage' is probably the best way to describe it, not least because of the leopard spots stamped across everything from fur collars and cuffs to crystal embroidered flapper dresses and from a model's blonde chignon to her stockings and shoes." [Grazia Daily]
  • "Yet for all that, Mr. Gaultier’s collection was elegant, presented without showgirl tricks, give or take a curvy bustier supporting jiggling breasts or the designer himself taking his usual mad dash down the runway." [International Herald Tribune]
  • "With dresses channeled into wonderfully weird tubular patterns, and his Parisian tailoring, the technique was great, but it also feels like an old act." [The New York Times]
  • "Jean Paul Gaultier works a theme like a last nerve. Today's was clearly big cats…big lady cats, to be precise: lionesses, tigresses, cougars." []
  • "There was classic Gaultier wit in a red fox boa that was actually crafted from ostrich plumes—and the jaguar-spot French twist updos." []
  • "When it comes to couture, there are designers who do froth and frou frou and then there are designers who go wild. Jean Paul Gaultier falls into the latter category and was going especially wanton this afternoon." [ UK]
  • "For much of the collection Jean Paul Gaultier continued with the new (relative) control he imposed on his couture last season." [WWD]


Designers: Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli

  • "Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli ... seemed to have pulled off their most eccentric and imaginative show to date." [Associated Press]
  • "Balanced high fantasy with earthly delights." [The Daily Beast]
  • "The thing about couture is that it rarely looks like anything the fashion audience would want to wear--too theatrical, too red carpet, too conceptual, or just plain weird. But then you see Valentino and the lust coming off that front row--and I don’t just mean the clients, the fashion professionals were practically drooling--well, you can really feel it." []
  • "It looked like a particularly discerning collector's dream which sat well with the layer upon layer of knowledge--both technical and ideas-based--that ran through their extraordinarily beautiful and exceptionally refined show." [Grazia Daily]
  • "It was the amazing embellishments on display in this collection that lifted up a number of outfits into the realm of museum quality workmanship." [NOWFASHION]
  • "Really, this collection might have been more relaxed and youthful. Ms. Chiuri and Mr. Piccioli can create some wonderful clothes, and they have loosened up a lot in the past couple of years, but they seem overly taken with a young aristocratic angel." [On The Runway/

    The New York Times]

  • "It's the Valentino designers' mastery of both extravagance and understatement that's the real wonder." []
  • "In a world of show-off bloggers posing outside shows, a woman wearing any one of these would cut a sophisticated swath through the crowd." []
  • "Absolutely beautiful as always, yet sombre and puritanical at the same time." [ UK]

Viktor & Rolf Designers: Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren

  • "Returning to the couture stage after a 13-year hiatus, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren used a raked Japanese garden as the vehicle for their shadowy, minimalist creations." [Associated Press]
  • "For their much-anticipated return to couture, Viktor & Rolf went zen." [The Daily Beast]
  • "Upstanding, such far from conventional forms were increasingly intriguing." [Grazia Daily]
  • "Gradually, as more models arrived, the designers put them together to meld them into abstract human sculptures, or the sartorial equivalent of the black rocks used in the Japanese garden. It made for a memorable living art presentation but as a collection of haute couture creations, it fell far short of the promise this show once had." [NOWFASHION]
  • "The thoughtful, clever show was a credit to meditation, a brainy chaser after a week of chiffon and crystals." []
  • "Bolder couture one is unlikely to see. The undulating, organic shapes were all realized in a spongy technical silk." [