Georges Hobeika, Rahul Mishra and Giambattista Valli bring extravagance to Paris
After Schiaparelli's wild animals, the first day of Paris Haute Couture Week made its way to the Palais de Chaillot, on the Trocadèro square. An iconic venue for fashion shows where, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, a handful of protesters and CGT union flags welcomed the guests of Georges Hobeika, who were mostly sheathed in luxurious furs to brave the cold weather, wearing high-heeled sandals and plenty of tulle and rhinestones.
Georges Hobeika rejuvenates
Amidst a contrasting backdrop, where pension reform protests merged with luxury couture that is so far removed from everyday reality, the Lebanese fashion house founded in 1995 by the eponymous designer presented a more youthful collection, featuring couture designs for both men and women.
And while the first looks of the show were dominated by a minimalist satin grey fabric, the Lebanese brand quickly gave way to more groundbreaking looks: from tight-fitting transparent jumpsuits embellished with rhinestones and chiffon garments and structured brocades for women to bright lime or turquoise outfits for men.
German influencer Leonie Hanne once again demonstrated her loyalty to the brand by modelling a stunning green dress with voluptuous feathers. A nod to wildlife that was repeated in other looks reminiscent of exotic birds or black swans and shared the limelight with delicate "naked dresses" in gradient colours.
"This collection is about connections: unity, love, friendship and family. It's a very personal collection. We wanted to reflect our feelings," Jad Hobeika, son of the brand's founder and, since last June, co-creative director of the brand, told FashionNetwork.com.
A self-confessed lover of feathers and birds, the young man detailed the references and creative inspirations for the show: "I have always been fascinated by their appearance and their ability to fly, to be able to escape far away and be part of something new. I felt it was essential to reflect this in my first collection as an official designer," he continued.
Of his new creative role, after having worked behind the scenes of the couture maison, Hobeika said that "while nothing has changed in his day-to-day life", the appointment has brought "more responsibility, being aware of the importance of conveying a strong message through collections."
A major statement was the inclusion of a drag queen among the models in the show, something uncommon among haute couture brands, following a connection born on Instagram. "It's a luxury and an honour to have been invited to this unique experience, my first time on the catwalk and with a custom-made couture look, something I could never have imagined," said the show's guest star Valentina backstage.
Known for her drag career since her participation in the ninth season of RuPaul's DragRace, the Mexican-born drag queen said she hopes that "this visibility will help support the drag community and open a legitimate path of acceptance for those who come after us."
She was not the only former contestant of the famous pageant to be present at the show. Among an audience full of international influencers such as Alexandra Pereira and Olivia Palermo, Paloma, the first winner of DragRace France, dressed in a bright green suit and a Versailles-style orange wig, and Kam Hugh, known for her talent as a make-up artist, looked outstanding.
Rahul Mishra gazes into the night sky
One of the halls of the luxurious Westin Hotel on rue Castiglione welcomed those attending the Spring/Summer 2023 show by Indian designer Rahul Mishra, who has been presenting his collections in Paris since 2014. The collection was both mature and a step forward for the brand, which only a year ago signed an alliance with the luxury retail giant Reliance Brands Limited.
Among those in attendance were actress Kelly Rutherford, known internationally for her roles in Melrose Place, and TV star Ashley Park, better known as Mindy Chen in Emily in Paris.
In keeping with his philosophy of promoting circular fashion and cultural sustainability, the Indian designer once again relied on more than a thousand Indian artisans from his home country to produce hand-embroidered fabrics and stunning golden tiaras and crowns.
The couture brand's signature maximalism was also reflected in the voluptuous nature-inspired garments: from mini dresses featuring golden embroidered components creating a structured silhouette in the shape of a phoenix about to take flight, to semi-transparent embroidered jumpsuits; exaggerated feathered warrior shoulder pads or dresses constructed with layers of apparent golden leaves and turquoise blue looks with ripples mirroring the movement of the sea.
"I was inspired by looking up at the sky, the stars and wondering what is out there, what lies beyond. I wanted to go out into the cosmos, to step back and put small things into perspective. It's beautiful and it changes the meaning and shape of things," the Kanpur-born designer, whose inspiration also derived from the Netflix series Cosmos, told FashionNetwork.com.
Likewise, the collection was replete with reminiscences to the millenary Indian culture, such as the saying that inspires the designer. "What's outside is inside you," he explained, insisting on the need to go beyond and look at natural ecosystems, mammals, birds, fish, vegetation or water in a renewed way.
A small golden beetle was given as a souvenir to guests, as a way of underlining that "however small its habitat may seem, the leaf on which it lives could be its entire universe".
More is always more at Giambattista Valli
As with most of the shows over the past few days, the last show of the day was delayed by about 45 minutes. With warm music playing in a white, rectangular room in the luxurious Place Vendôme, Giambattista Valli once again showcased the classic elements of his brand identity, based on the motto "more is always more," in front of various guests including influencer Lena Situations, actress Hiba Abouk and the iconic editor Anna dello Russo.
The brand, which last year celebrated a decade in the Haute Couture Week calendar, did not skimp on opulence and its signature volumes, ranging from massive voluptuous silk bows, long-tailed capes, organza fringes, wraparound ostrich feathers to flowing coats and even daring bright jumpsuits wrapped in neon-coloured tulle.
Pleats and draping intermingled, giving way to a much-photographed cut-out look in gold lamé, affirming the Italian designer's clear pop references. A stunning dress with a voluptuous skirt overlapping metres and metres of tulle in salmon and silk, creating an interesting optical illusion, as well as a series of extra-short flower-shaped dresses in fuchsia and scarlet red, also stood out.
Careful attention to detail was seen throughout the collection: from Isamaya French's polished makeup to oversized pearl earrings, to the embroidered beading on torero-style boleros and small waistcoats.
After more than 40 looks, the brand owned by Artemis (François-Henri Pinault's investment company) ended the show with a revisited bridal look, composed of a mini-jacket embroidered with crystals and structured silk palazzo trousers paired with a voluptuous draped tulle cape.
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