From Runway to Reality…

Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. No sooner did the menswear collections for fall 2015 come to an end in Paris, then the magical world of haute couture began. And while in past seasons, I might have pointed out that it quickly went from grounded reality to fantastical flights of fancy; not so this time around, as the menswear shows were certainly filled with their share of the latter and it could hardly have been considered a season that was ‘garden variety’.

 Valentino Spring 2015 Haute Couture

Speaking of ‘garden variety’.the haute couture shows for spring 2015 were marked by enormous variety (each of the 15 houses did their own thing and played off their unique signature strengths). That being said, it was hard not to notice an emphasis on flowers and florals (they never seem to fade from fashion’s horizon and in fact, they were even proposed for the guys on the recent runways for fall 2015). And while there were many highlights during the week, perhaps the most poignant show for me had to be Valentino (though I could have done without some of the overly costumey pieces). It was an homage to love, (“Amore”) and the design duo, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli cited as their inspirations: Shakespeare, Dante’s Inferno, and Marc Chagall (a personal favorite of mine).

Marc Chagall was born Moishe Shagal in 1887, and emigrated from Vitebsk, Belarus in Russia to Paris in 1910. His instantly recognizable, fantastical, and mystical paintings were often religiously themed, and they focused on every day scenes from what was an impoverished life in the shtetl. Yet the resulting works of art were not depressing and sad or mournful, but hopeful, joyful, and life affirming, and for him, they represented a true labor of love. The fact that he was Jewish, as were his subjects, is not lost on me given the recent terrorist killings in a Jewish deli in the outskirts of Paris, and the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, specifically France.

It was also hard not to notice how many designers seemed intent on injecting a dose of reality within their extravagant collections, accessorizing as they did with grounded boots and flat shoes. There were flat white espadrilles at Jean Paul Gaultier; flat black midcalf boots at Chanel; flatform thong sandals at Viktor & Rolf; flat ballerinas with upturned toes at Ulyana Sergeenko; flat metallic sandals at Elie Saab; and black patent leather pointy toed flat men’s oxfords at Jean Paul Gaultier and Bouchra Jarrar. But regardless, it’s a stretch to use the words haute couture and reality in the same sentence, given the astronomical prices, which are out of reach and beyond the grasp for most of us. Though, not for the glamorous celebrities who routinely seek out made to order, one of a kind creations for their real life needs (personal appearances, weddings, premiers, galas, openings, and all the various and sundry award shows).

And right now, there are plenty of big deal events looming in the horizon: the Grammy Awards are on Sunday February 8th, the Academy Awards are on Sunday February 22nd, the Met Gala, themed around the exhibition, “China: Through the Looking Glass”, is Monday May 4th, and the Cannes Film Festival runs through May 13th through May 24th. So, as I watched the shows, I found myself speculating as to which designs would most likely appear on which stars (or in some cases, which designs I would like to see on certain stars), and would thereby make it from runway to their reality.

Left Amal Cooney; Right: Bouchra Jarrar Haute Couture 2015

Amal Alamuddin not only travels the world as a high profile international lawyer, but as Mrs. George Clooney, she constantly shuttles to and from her homes in Italy, London, and Los Angeles. You could say she is the ultimate jet setter and as one of the most photographed women in the world, the press is always there to record her airport comings and goings, and her style is always being scrutinized. What better way to look chic on the go, than with this Bouchra Jarrar ensemble.

Left Kate Hudson;  Right: Versace Atelier Haute Couture Spring 2015

Kate Hudson has hands down, one of the best bodies around and her body conscious fashion choices are always spot on, making the most of what she’s got. It’s not surprising that she has traditionally looked to the house of Versace for her public outings. In fact, she not only sat front row at the couture show last week, but she was wearing one of the hottest dresses on the runway…a red number that was cut out on the derriere, proving she had nothing on beneath. When asked what her favorite piece in the collection was, she replied it was the white flared leg cat suit worn by Karlie Kloss, so I would say it’s a safe bet we will see her wearing it this season.

Left: Goldie Hawn in Laugh-In; Right: Dior Haute Couture Spring 2015

Miley Cyrus was described as today’s version of the “Sock it to me Girl”, a title given to Kate Hudson’s mom Goldie Hawn when she appeared on “Laugh-In”, the iconic 60’s TV show. “She is always getting it socked to her by the press and others” said Judy Carn several years ago (Carn was also on the show), and both agreed that it all began when they saw her “rubbing her bum up an older gent’s sock”. After looking at the 60’s inspired, unapologetically mod space age line up at Christian Dior, especially the psychedelically printed second skin bodysuits (time for a Pucci revival?), I was reminded of Goldie’s groovy body painting and I could easily envision the always unpredictable and irreverent Miley, who loves to show her body off, wearing one of Raf’s zany versions, while cavorting both on and off stage.

Left: Julianne Moore at the Golden Globes 2015 in Givenchy  Haute Couture;
Right: Elie Saab Haute Couture Spring 2015

Julianne Moore’s off duty style (at home in New York’s Greenwich Village), could best be described as streetwise, casual and functional. But when she hits the red carpet, it’s all about glamour. She doesn’t have one signature look, but she did admit to having a “thing” for feathers. Why not go full hog with this show stopping entrance making fantastical Elie Saab confection when she attends the upcoming Academy Awards (it would look pretty amazing with her flame red hair). Let’s face it; she is all but guaranteed to win an Oscar for her performance in “I’m still Alice”. How apropos: it will be yet another ‘feather’ in her cap (she already won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors’ Guild Award), and she would be capping off what has been a ‘fantastical’ season for her.

 Left: Rihanna in Chanel Right; Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2015

Rihanna is in a category of her own, simply put. She has a strong presence and is one of those bold fashion chameleons who can seemingly pull anything off. She puts her own spin on everything, from the demure and classic to the shockingly daring. But while she is more commonly associated with a hard edged, tough streetwise sensibility, I kind of love it when she goes against type, and hits that soft sweet feminine spot, as she is known to do when she wears Chanel (and she still manages to make it look kickass ‘bad’).

 Left: Lupita Nyong’o attends CFDA Awards; Right: Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring 2015

Lupita Nyong’o originally wowed us last year with her first few appearances on the red carpet (the red Ralph Lauren cape gown was THE look of the 2013 season). Without a doubt, almost nobody looks better in strong primary colors and graphic, bold patterns, and she is a risk taker. As illustrated by the Suno culottes and cropped top she wore to the 2014 CFDA Awards in June. I think her exuberant style is perfectly suited to this Christian Dior ensemble, down to the fierce boots.

Left: Katie Perry; Right: Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2015

Katie Perry is the ultimate pop star/outdoor California girl. Her sense of style is playful and whimsical, she has a real sense of humor, doesn’t take herself too seriously, and loves to experiment and camp it up (she is being outfitted by Jeremy Scott for her half time show performance at Sunday’s Super Bowl and promised, “a feast for the eyes and the ears”). If anyone can pull of this flower decorated Chanel, it is she.

Left Taylor Swift performs in London; Right: Atelier Versace Spring 2015 Haute Couture

Taylor Swift can hold her own with the world’s top models thanks to her long lanky frame and high cheekbones. She is coming into her own in terms of her red carpet style, as well as her offstage, and onstage persona. She can easily rock a languid gown, a spangled mini, or short shorts, thanks to her youth and long gams and with legs like those, why cover them up? I could easily picture her in Atelier Versace’s red mini and tall boots, while performing on stage or hitting the red carpet at the upcoming Grammy Awards.

Left: Emma Stone in Lanvin; Right: Ulyana Sergeenko Spring 2015 Haute Couture

Emma Stone is one of those fabulous young stars who shines regardless of what she wears, and with her beauty, poise, confidence, and innate style, she can pull off even the most fashion forward of designs. With reports that she and boyfriend Andrew Garfield are planning to get married in Rome, Italy this summer, it’s obvious she will be in need of a wedding gown. Andrew was quoted as saying he’d be happy to do it at City Hall, but she wants something more “memorable”. I think this Ulyana Sergeenko would fit the bill perfectly as it’s the best of both worlds: not your typical, fussy, overdone wedding gown, it is a bit more tailored, unusual, whimsical, and modern. While I happen to love the rooster bag, let’s just say, it’s optional- LOL.

Left: First Lady in Marchesa; Right: Valentino Spring 2015 Haute Couture

Michelle Obama is not a movie star, but the First Lady is a big star who makes a big impact on fashion. She relishes in getting dressed to the nines for high profile occasions, such as State Dinners and the like, and she always nails it. This gold Valentino whose skirt is printed with a line from Dante’s Inferno, is a perfect choice for those times (like the White House Correspondent’s Dinner) when she not only wants to make an entrance, but announce to her husband’s detractors and critics, “Go to hell!”

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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