The haute couture collections represent the very pinnacle of Parisian savoir-faire, seeing the city’s historic houses – among them Dior, Chanel, and Balenciaga – flex the might of their ateliers to create clothing defined by breathtaking expressions of craft. But a new energy is emerging in the city too, seeing designers from Daniel Roseberry at Schiaparelli to John Galliano at Maison Margiela Artisanal explore what the historic art of couture means today. Here, in an ongoing review, the best of Haute Couture Week A/W 2022.

Haute Couture A/W 2022, Chanel to Balenciaga


Schiaparelli Haute Couture A/W 2022 runway shot

Daniel Roseberry’s latest collection for Schiaparelli saw the American creative director engage in a dialogue with designers past – a reflection of new exhibition ‘Shocking! The Surreal World of Elsa Schiaparelli’ at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which explores both the house namesake’s Surrealist influences and those whom she inspired in her wake, from Christian Lacroix to Azzedine Alaïa. So there were touches of Yves Saint Laurent (moulded breastplates, Van Gogh-inspired sunflowers), Jean Paul Gaultier (nipped nude corsetry) and Lacroix (giant gold crucifixes, vast flourishes of satin) appearing across a celebratory, unrestrained collection which bridged past and present. ‘I always talk about trying to achieve that state of creative innocence, of fighting to stay close to that person who fell in love with fashion and its possibilities,’ said Roseberry. ‘I hope that spirit comes through in this collection… [I hope people feel] the joy we felt [making it], of creating things, of getting to make beautiful objects that people will always remember.’


Dior runway shot at Haute Couture A/W 2022

The ‘tree of life’, a symbol which has traversed cultures and time, provided the starting point for Maria Grazia Chiuri’s latest haute couture collection at Dior (the house called it ‘an emblem of universal reach’). Ukrainian artist Olesia Trofymenko – continuing a long line of female artists that have collaborated with the house under Grazia Chiuri’s tenure – created the set, which saw her folk-inspired embroideries blown up as the runway’s backdrop. Embroidery became central to this latest offering, with intricate motifs adorning cotton, wool, silk and cashmere dresses in romantic silhouettes – an expression, says the house, of the ‘virtuoso savoir-faire’ which has defined the Dior haute couture atelier since its beginnings. ‘Thanks to refined gestures of the hand,’ says Dior, ‘the tree of life is thus transformed into a manifesto for harmonious plurality, allowing a restoration of balance, if only momentarily’. 


Model wears Chanel Haute Couture A/W 2022

Virginie Viard described her latest couture outing as ‘graphic’ – a favourite word of forebear Karl Lagerfield, the designer noted – beginning with a shade of green inspired by a brightly hued jacket worn by Inès de la Fressange in a Chanel couture collection in the 1980s. Amid a colourful set by French artist Xavier Veilhan, such vivid swathes of colour were evident throughout a collection that ‘[invoked] geometric statements through optical illusions imbued with lightness and resolute modernity’, as the house described. Indeed, despite the multi-layered expressions of craft – hundreds of embroidered leaves, painted lace, delicate dustings of sequins and feathers – there was a clarity to Viard’s vision, with graphic motifs and sculptural silhouettes emerging throughout a collection which captured the French designer’s modern, easygoing take on the historic art of haute couture.

Giorgio Armani Privé

Model wears Giorgio Armani Privé Haute Couture A/W 2022

Giorgio Armani titled his latest Armani Privé collection ‘Pétillant’ which translates to English from French as ‘sparkling’ (the term is perhaps most associated with the traditional method of creating sparkling wine). Here though, it referenced a multiplicity of elements that shimmered in the show’s light – whether dangling bead fringing, sequin trims, or diaphanous mesh crystal tops. Another word the designer used was ‘realism’, noting that the louche silhouettes referenced the 1920s, finding particular inspiration in the art deco painter Tamara de Lempicka. ‘Echoes of her rebellious elegance are felt in the succession of silhouettes, first minimal and linear, then voluminous and evanescent,’ said the house. ‘The light refracted by the embroidery takes over the persistent magical movement that sends a message of pure, feminine energy.’


Mannequin wears Balenciaga Haute Couture A/W 2022

For his second haute couture collection, Balenciaga creative director Demna looked towards an unexpected collaborator, the applied science division of car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz. They had worked on the face-covering masks – ink-tinted, aerodynamic, anti-fog, moulded and polished by hand – worn by models across the collection’s first 38 looks. Combined with Demna’s contemporary riffs on haute couture (neoprene utilised as an alternative to traditional silk gazar, T-shirts bonded with aluminium for sculptural silhouettes, narrow-waisted corsets built into shirts) they had the uncanny effect which has defined the designer’s tenure at the house so far. The show ended with a series of increasingly grand gowns – such was the size of their crinolines that they barely fitted through the doorways of the salon-style rooms – and a slew of celebrity models, including Kim Kardashian, Nicole Kidman and Dua Lipa, for a defiant vision of what haute couture can look like today.

Maison Margiela Artisanal

Maison Margiela Artisanal runway shot

During the pandemic, John Galliano proved adept at translating his vision for Maison Margiela into the digital realm; his various films, created in collaboration with Nick Knight, were some of the highlights of the lockdown genre. This season, returning to the runway with his Maison Margiela Artisanal line, Galliano noted that he wished to translate this newfound creative outlet into a physical experience. As such, ‘Cinema Inferno’ was born, an in-theatre happening which combined film, performance and runway show as a dynamic new way to showcase his collections at the house. The story itself transported the viewer to the American open road, tracing a couple through the Arizona desert, providing context for a collection which drew on the archetypes of the country’s style (cowboy hats, leather boots, denim and the like) and mixed them up with Galliano’s flair for eccentric, unrestrained glamour.

Stay tuned for more Wallpaper* coverage from Haute Couture Week A/W 2022 §