News & Runway

Haute Couture Fall 2011 Hits and Misses (Forum Buzz)

Chanel Haute Couture Fall

The couture shows are a time for revered fashion houses to pull out all the stops, spare no expense, and dazzle us with exquisitely made, handcrafted clothing. Some succeeded where others failed. Here’s a look at what forum members judged to be the high and low points of Paris couture this week. Designers beware: we're a fickle crowd, and sometimes your biggest offense may be boring us with by simply showing us the same old beautiful clothes.

Haute Couture Hits - Valentino, Giorgio Armani Privé, Giambattista Valli

Hits: Valentino, Giorgio Armani Privé, Giambattista Valli



“Thank god for this show, I was beginning to think couture could never be beautiful again now that [John] Galliano and [Christian] Lacroix are gone. [Karl] Lagerfeld can do great stuff, but this season he failed. [Riccardo] Tisci was a little too gimmicky. I like this austere and beautiful look.” [iluvjeisa]

“This is beautiful and feels new for Valentino. There are some medieval references here but they are explored in a way that is modern and not costume-esque. I also see a lot more tailoring in this collection; something new for them I think. The jackets are sublime! They look really fresh styled with the gowns.” [helmut.newton]

“I REALLY like this. [Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli] have finally stepped up their game a bit. They've spiced things up with that red and black and they've finally cut back on the ruffle overload. The dresses here are ridiculously beautiful and effortlessly romantic.” [Squizree]

Read our review and see images from the Valentino Haute Couture collection.


Giorgio Armani Privé

“Stunning collection. I've been really impressed with [Armani's] Privé collection the last few seasons now. What I love about this one is how he was able to incorporate the Asian elements without having it come out costume-y and without losing the Armani woman either. Just a sleek, reserved and beautiful collection.” [MyNameIs]

“Absolutely beautiful collection. This is the Asian influence done right. He has been using a lot of the Asian influences in his recent collections but this is the best yet. The prints were well placed and the silhouettes are beautiful.” [Chris_Couture05]

“Love it love it love it to bits. It seems it has some Japanese influences, which perfectly meshes with the Armani aesthetic. I love everything; even the styling is quite good. I’m surprised at how sexy the looks are (and I’m talking about Armani!)” [ultramarine]

Read our review and see images from the Giorgio Armani Privé Haute Couture collection.


Elie Saab

“Well, if you're going to do the same thing season after season you darn sure better make sure the woman looks and feels beautiful no matter what. Which I think [Elie Saab] accomplishes time after time in a way that Karl [Lagerfeld] doesn't for Chanel. It's just so beautiful and whimsical, like it comes from a fairy tale. I wish I could own one of these.” [fantastical]

“It may be monotonous but he always delivers the fantasy for me; I can't help but look at his collections and sigh, they are always so perfectly beautiful.” [sidda]

“Repetitive as always but it works, and yup he can make any woman feel glamorous and beautiful with his creations so one can't really hold anything against him. All the pieces look very light and have great movement even though they are embellished like no other.” [CommanderTMugler]

Read our review and see images from the Elie Saab Haute Couture collection. 


Giambattista Valli

“Wow, I am definitely stunned by the collection. It's extremely beautiful, feminine, light… and very wearable. I am sure the couture customers will be dying for many of these pieces… some of the gowns were a bit too much and a bit too tacky, but as a debut collection it's great. I have a feeling this is going to be one of my favorites this season!” [dodencebt]

“This collection is so breathtaking and lady-like… [it feels like] Valentino. The glamour lost in the house of Valentino has been found by Giambattista Valli. He married elegance with drama so effortlessly.” [Ives927]

“As some of the more established houses stumble, and just as you think couture might have outlived its usefulness, here comes Valli showing us the light, and I thank him very much for this. I can only expect him to improve over time as he learns the full powers of the métier. But this is a profound start, why? Because Valli knows that the future of couture is not as a marketing spectacle, it is in offering real clothes to real women, imparting them not only something beautifully made, but as rare and unique as possible. He understands this because he has made a point to understand and get to know the women who demand this… Bravo!” [Mutterlein]

Read our review and see images from the Giambattista Valli Haute Couture collection. 


Haute Couture Misses - Christian Dior, Givenchy, Chanel

Misses: Christian Dior, Givenchy, Chanel


Christian Dior

“I think I speak for everyone when I say this is not the hope and change we were waiting for from Christian Dior collections.” [MyNameIs]

“This is messiness of the highest order. The mother of all messes. Mess personified. So messy I want to take a shower. The major part of me hates it because it's the silliest excuse for Haute Couture I've ever seen. They were trying to be too 'creative' and ended up with a giant mess. But a small microscopic part of me enjoys this silly chaos; it's kinda fun to look at. Kinda like looking at very colorful garbage.” [Squizree]

“This is absolutely disgusting. This is the team saying ‘Dior can survive without Galliano!’ by doing everything big, colored, over-styled, when in fact, they missed out what really made Galliano's Dior – the controlled-haphazardness and essentially the quality of beautiful design.” [Crying Diamonds]

“Well, I think it's clear there was no cohesive or focused vision for this collection. It literally is all over the place and seems like several ideas crammed into one pile of color and overload. I have to say that some of the swirly skirts and the series of long chiffon dresses might have led to something interesting if the approach was a lot calmer and sophisticated while only focusing on one inspiration. But now they are borderline ghastly. John hugely experimented with where taste ends and vulgarity starts in the beginning of this century, but the fact that this is not an experiment but a serious proposition makes it lean heavily towards vulgar and tastelessness.” [Mr-Dale]

“This collection is a mess, but we should all remember Dior is still in the stage of transitioning. This was to be expected when a replacement for Galliano has yet to be announced. Let's put this in the ‘it never happened’ file as this doesn't represent what Dior stands for.” [Ives927]

Read our review and see images of the Christian Dior Haute Couture collection. 



“Yawn. This is becoming a glorified Marchesa at this point. How much beading and decorations can one take? Plus, it's the same thing in different colors for three seasons running now. I'm sure the detailing is beautiful, but I'd like some variety in Givenchy Haute Couture collections at this point.” [MyNameIs]

“Please move on to a different aesthetic Riccardo. This is lovely, but yawn, yawn…” [ALAUU]

“This is beautiful and the craftsmanship is sublime, but frankly, I am also sick of seeing merely beautiful dresses at Givenchy. I miss his Haute Couture shows! For me, his earlier Haute Couture collections were absolutely supreme. These shows were not merely about aesthetics but also about making you think. They stimulated on aesthetic, emotional and, intellectual levels. I also loved the constant surprise; it was new but it was not exceedingly trendy or fashionable. These recent collections however are beyond mundane. For something to be interesting it has to be stimulating; and for something to be stimulating, it has to affect us on more than one level (visual/aesthetic). This is where Tisci's recent Haute Couture collections fail. Sure, they consist of beautifully crafted gowns that are light as air and whimsical, etc – but do they consist of much else? It’s such a shame, because we know what he is capable of. This is obviously some kind of commercial/economic strategy and therefore a waste of his talent.” [helmut.newton]

“For a year and a half now, Givenchy Couture has become nothing more than white sheer gowns bogged down with embellishments, embroidery and lace. And why only gowns? Whatever happened to seeing day-wear, pantsuits and separates in Tisci's collections for the house? I miss those collections. They felt heartfelt… whereas at this point, this all looks very easy for Riccardo.” [dior_couture1245]

Read our review and see images from the Givenchy Haute Couture collection. 



“I feel as if I have seen all this a thousand times before.” [superFashion]

“Honestly, I was a little bit bored watching this. It’s beautifully made and the silhouette is quite appealing; but we know what Karl is capable of! His other Haute Couture shows have been much more impressive and memorable. Also, his last few Haute Couture collections seem to be more commercial and mass appeal than his more visionary collections. I also immensely dislike the hats. Every time I see that kind of hat, I immediately think of hipsters! This is like how a hipster would wear couture to 'edge' it up or something, no?” [helmut.newton]

“I find the set interesting although I truly believe something more interesting could have been achieved. Karl has really failed recently in creating the distinct silhouettes he has always been good at doing. Particularly with couture, for example the F/W '06 collection with the knee-high denim boots, it was so contemporary and forward thinking and still utterly Chanel. It's been a while since I have seen one of these 'complete' visions; recent collections tend to be more derivative.” [Master Wood]

Read our review and see images from the Chanel Haute Couture collection.


Images courtesy of Vincenzo Grillo, IMAXtree