The Top Moments from Digital Haute Couture Week

Couturiers took to the virtual world for the first time to showcase the artistry and craftsmanship of their houses. These are the team's highlights from the novel, three-day event.

Photo: Giambattista Valli

This time last year, Olivia was in Paris attending the couture show circuit and later shooting an editorial that paid homage to the magic of the métier. While global pandemic calls for limited travel in favor of health and safety, it also has given the fashion world permission to slow down from the fast-paced environment many are accustomed to. And with that time came the ability to rethink and reshape presentations for a digital format. From July 6th through 8th, Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode hosted the first-ever online showcase in place of in-person runway shows. Ateliers and Creative Directors debuted their latest handcrafted, extraordinary designs through a myriad of mediums, whether via sketches, virtual lookbooks, and thoughtful films. The best part? One no longer needed to be an industry insider to experience the beauty of couture—all could join in on the fashion narrative. Scroll on for a few highlights from Olivia's favorite houses.

Photo: Balmain

While discussing the future of fashion shows for Vogue Global Conversations earlier this April, Balmain's Olivier Rousteingeig said, "I don't see digital as less emotional; I see digital as an experience where you can push your dreams to the next level." On July 5th, he certainly took that sentiment to heart, along with the desire to share the brand's designs with the world as couture-clad models embarked on a boat ride down the Seine. The performance was live-streamed on TikTok, revealing a combination of modern Balmain pieces plus striking couture looks from the archives. Although there were technical difficulties with the sound towards the end of the event, viewers still enjoyed music from singer Yseult and a dance performance choreographed by Jean-Charles Jousni throughout, as the city's beautiful blue sky and iconic landmarks glittered off the boat's reflective surfaces.

Photo: Schiaparelli

For Schiaparelli's Fall 2021 collection, Creative Director Daniel Rosenberry shared an intimate journey into his imagination. The short film follows the designer as he travels to New York City's Washington Square Park to sketch on a park bench. It is here where he has been spending his quarantine, but adjusting to this new way of life has yielded spectacular results. Archival photos from Elsa Schiaparelli's world appear alongside Rosenberry's Haute Couture sketches throughout the video, exhibiting his inspiration and commitment to the historic brand's avant-garde spirit. In a statement, he reflects of this time, sharing, "Everything has changed, but imagination, and the drive to create, has never been more relevant, or more profound. This collection is a tribute to that impulse to create." Upon Rosenberry's eventual return to Paris, the designs will be delivered to the Atelier to make his fashion dreams a reality.

Photo: Brigitte Niedermairn/ Courtesy of Dior

"Dior always knows how to bring its dreams to life. The whole experience—from the production of a show to seeing the collection— is just really incredible," Olivia remarked after attending the most-recent runway show in February. The dedication to their digital presentation proved to be no different this season as Maria Grazia Chiuri, partnered with filmmaker Matteo Garrone to create the short film "Le Mythe Dior." The story transports the viewer to an enchanted world inspired by mythology, but our highlight, however, was the Atelier's inclusion of miniature mannequins of the collection for its historical significance. Post-war in 1945, there was a traveling doll show called Théâtre de la mode were artists collaborated with designers to display the savoir-faire of French couture amidst a time of great adversity. Chiuri realized the parallels between this past tradition and the present, noting that now is also a time for the industry to reinvent itself.

Still from the Giambattista Valli Haute Couture Digiral Showcase

Giambattista Valli 
Paris scenery was juxtaposed against Giambattista Valli's unique Haute Couture silhouettes in the house's new video, produced for the digital event. The designer himself developed this concept as an ode to the city, visually showcasing how elements of nature and the environment directly inspired the collection. The hues of the delicately crafted pieces all have a story to tell: red calls to mind lipstick on a coffee cup in a café, black is like Guerlain's iconic "La Petite Robe Noire" fragrance, while ivories match a swan or ornate French moldings. Volume and the art of dressmaking are still key focuses as model Joan Smalls twirls in floor-sweeping tulle ballgowns and sculptural cocktail dresses. Signature Valli is here to stay, and yet, breathtaking even when seen through our screens.

Photo: Ralph & Russo

Ralph & Russo
This British house is known for "infusing the traditions of couture with a very modern aspect," as Creative Director and co-founder Tamara Ralph has said. Naturally, she sought to incorporate new ways to design and showcase her Haute Couture work through technology this season. Inspired by nature and the seven wonders of the world, the designer partnered with an AI developer to create an avatar named Hauli, who appears dressed in flowing couture and digitized floral embroidery around the globe. This imagery complements the eight other dreamy designs created for the real world, as seen in the the brand's exclusive, behind-the-scenes video.

Photo: Valentino

Although yesterday marked the last day of Haute Couture Week on the FHCH's online schedule, the momentum won't officially end until Pierpaolo Piccoli of Valentino debuts a digital live performance in collaboration with famed photographer Nick Knight on Tuesday, July 21st at 4:00PM CET. Earlier this week, a teaser was released promising to share a new vision for the métier via "a dialogue between human and digital touch, igniting the inner values of Haute Couture: creativity, imagination, and emotion." Olivia and our team will be tuning in to see what unfolds from Rome.

Related Articles