The Best Fall Shows From Paris Couture Week Redefine What’s Haute

The Best Fall Shows From Paris Couture Week Redefine What’s Haute

These designers from Paris Couture Week are pushing the boundaries of what couture can be



In the world of high fashion, there are two kinds of runway collections. The first is ready-to-wear, which refers to clothes that are, well, ready to wear straight from the boutique. These are clothes that are mass-produced in standardized sizes and ready to be shipped to and shopped in boutiques around the world—the majority of fashion labels and collections fall under this designation.


And then there’s haute couture.


Think of couture as fashion yassified to the nth degree; it is the most exclusive form of fashion possible. Every garment is custom-made to fit your body and hand-crafted by highly-trained couturiers at an extreme level of intricacy, made with the most opulent and luxurious materials only. You can’t buy couture off the rack from a designer’s boutique—it requires several fitting appointments at a private atelier where the garment will be made to your specifications (at an exorbitant price, of course). Some couture clients will even purchase exclusivity rights over a certain look, meaning whatever garment they buy will be the only one of its kind in the world.


At the recent Paris Fall Haute Couture Fashion Week, several design houses like Chanel and Dior took their brand’s distinct aesthetic and translated them into incredibly well-made bespoke garments. However, this season, certain designers have decided to creatively push the boundaries of what couture can become. Ahead, check out the 10 couture collections fresh from Paris that left us feeling the most excited.


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Armani Privé


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This season, Armani Privé decided to live life la vie en rose. Literally. Models sauntered down the runway in polished gowns and separates adorned with roses of all kinds—appliques, embroidery sequins, corsages, you name it—all styled in the trademark Armani high-octane glamour, of course. It’s a stunning couture collection we wouldn’t mind seeing all over the next Oscars red carpet.


Balenciaga Couture


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Fresh off a long list of controversies, Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvaslia aimed to take it back to basics for this couture collection. Several looks harkened back to the glory days of the 1950s Balenciaga archives (such as an egg-shaped ball gown rendered in crimson lace), while other ensembles feel irreverent and effortless in a trademark Demna way (peep the Kim K-approved glove dresses and the suiting with exaggerated shoulders). Our fave look? The 3D-printed chrome armor gown that feels very Joan of Arc-appropriate.


Elie Saab


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Want to feel like the prettiest girl at the ball? Then go for Elie. For this season, the Lebanese couturier took inspiration from medieval court dress and the glory of the Tudor period. Lush gardens of exotic sequined flowers sprung forth from the shoulders of impeccably tailored pantsuits, while several gowns feature lavish gold embroidery worthy of Anne Boleyn. Perfect for the woman who isn’t afraid to go dark while living out her princess fantasies.


Gaurav Gupta Couture


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When Cardi B landed several best-dressed lists after showing up to this year’s Grammys in one of his electric-blue confections, all eyes were on Gaurav Gupta’s next move. For his second couture collection, the India-born fashion designer showed several sculptural gowns featuring his trademark soft swoops both around the neckline and as dramatic bustles down the skirt. We’re living for the drama!


Iris van Herpen



Cult Dutch designer Iris van Herpen has long refused the staid old conventions of what couture used to be (think starched petticoats and heavy corsetry). Instead, she’s far more interested in redefining couture in a much more modern way—her otherworldly creations are inspired by fluidity and movement. And not for nothing, but several of these diaphanous pieces would feel right at home on the backs of the fiercest Tekken warriors.


Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture


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The guessing game of figuring out who gets chosen as guest designer behind Jean Paul Gaultier is a highlight of every couture week. This season, the honor goes to Paco Rabanne’s Julien Dossena, and his couture collection feels like a Gaultier greatest-hits album—from the trademark pinstripe suiting, chainmail dresses to his take on the iconic Madonna cone bra. All in all, a tender tribute to a beloved French fashion legend.


Schiaparelli Couture


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Creative director Daniel Roseberry is best known for revitalizing the house of Schiaparelli with a distinct black-and-gold aesthetic that calls back to the brand’s surrealist roots. But this time around, the designer challenged himself to get creative and break out of his design codes. The result is definitely a lot more playful—models marched down the runway in voluminous confections punctuated with lavish gold embellishments and shocking Yves Klein blue.


Thom Browne


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For his debut Paris couture collection, Thom Browne showed everyone just how fantastical he can get with the classic gray suit. Taking it as far as possible from its everyman roots, he played around with every detail to make it a non-basic—from layering hundreds of layers of tulle to achieve a fuzzy mille-feuille textile to exploring large silhouettes straight from the Belle Epoque period. It’s giving crazy maximalism in the best way possible.


Valentino Haute Couture


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Many fashionistas would agree that Pierpaolo Piccioli might just be the decade’s most influential fashion designer. Adept at the art of wielding exuberance, he knows how to create clothes that move you and evoke pure emotion. His latest couture showing is no exception. Featuring explosions of features, sumptuous draping and even couture denim (!!!), this collection met critical acclaim and an extremely rare standing ovation from Anna Wintour herself.


Viktor & Rolf


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Known as fashion’s enfant-terrible duo, Viktor & Rolf made a name for subverting what couture looks like in the most tongue-in-cheek way and taking it to extreme avant-garde heights. This season was all about the bathing suit—which to many would seem to be the last thing one would show at couture week, right? But the design duo was up for the challenge, drowning bikinis and maillots in gigantic bows, strategically-placed embroidery and the brand’s trademark humorous slogans.


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Which shows did you eye at Paris Couture Week?



Words Jer Capacillo

Art Matthew Ian Fetalver

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