Finding Inspiration in Haute Couture

Finding Inspiration in Haute Couture
March 12, 2015 Lowana

Inspiration is a unique and personal thing for any artist. I find inspiration in many places (books, movies, history, architecture, nature…) and today I’d like to share one particular aspect of inspiration for me, Haute Couture. This post contains plenty of drool-worthy videos, so do make yourself a drink and get settled in!

The first video I would like to share with you is probably the most inspirational of them all (for me personally at least). It’s a behind-the-scenes look at one of my most favourite designs (ever!). It’s one dress from the Dior Spring/Summer 2011 Haute Couture collection by John Galliano. He was inspired by fashion illustrations (drawings) and I especially love the tonal work he managed to create with the use of layered tulle (it reminds me of ink fashion drawings). I love how the video shows the whole process, from design concept through to the finished garment on the catwalk. I especially love getting a glimpse into the world of Dior. I also adore how it really spells out the level of work involved in creating a couture garment. So many people just don’t know what’s involved. I spend a lot of time educating my audience and customers about what the process (and relevant pricing) is for bespoke, couture garments and it’s lovely to be able to watch a video representation of it. It’s a lot of work, it’s rewarding (from a creative perspective) and it’s an absolute luxury. As you’ll see when you watch the video there are so many involved in the making of this gown. A lot can be learned from both a design and construction perspective and just when you think “it must be nearly finished” off they go with a whole other set of tasks! Fashion is serious business 😉

If you love the garment in the above video, then do click ‘play’ on the next video… it’s the entire collection from Dior SS 2011 and the whole collection is just breathtaking. I think it’s my favorite Dior collection ever! Oh to be able to create a collection this wonderful and have a talented team on hand to do it… perhaps one day 🙂

A ‘backstage’ video of the collection (from the fashion show) can be viewed here. There’s also a short interview with Galliano (designer for Dior at the time).

Another fantastic video from a more recent Dior collection is viewable below. There’s something about peeking into another designers atelier and creation process that I just find fascinating. Couture really is an art form. Personally, I actually hate the dresses from this collection (block colours and stripes with odd shaping for the dresses) and feel like it’s a bit of a let down from Dior. I initially fell in love with Dior’s “New Look” from the fifties and visions of elegance and this collection has too much ‘modern’ in it for my taste. However, it’s the process I love, especially the detail about the pleating. The focus dress (“Look #53”) in the video took 200 hours to create (and the video speeds the process up to just a few minutes), with a whole team of people working on it! Most bridal gowns (or extravagantly embellished corsets) take me a minimum of 100 hours, and it’s usually just me (and occasionally an intern or two) working on it.  Oh the things I would create if I had such a team…. *dreams* Perhaps someday I’ll organize a video like this of my own work…

Lastly from my mini collection of Dior videos, is this one about the making of ‘Be Dior’ bag. Designer handbags have never really been my thing, but the video does a good job of persuading me as I now need one. Talk about clever marketing (and the music is pretty too!) 😉

The next video is a behind-the-scenes look at the Making of the Chanel FW14/15 Couture Collection. The way they create the texture and detail in their fabrics is so interesting and some of the things they use for the texture is really unusual – wonderful food-for-thought for inspiration. I’ve never particularly liked the shape of Chanel’s garments – I find them too blocky and prefer a more tailored fit that focuses on the waist (and in this particular fashion show I can’t stand the hair and makeup… I mean, what is going on with that forward comb fringe thing?!). That’s just my personal taste however, and I still admire the craftsmanship of their designs and think the video is lovely.

This next video is absolutely fascinating and shows a really interesting use of the manipulation of the fabrics… incredible shapes and textures are created through folding fabric like origami. Some of the effects remind me of Victorian era trims on fabulous gowns and Chanel have really created some outstanding pieces.

Whoever would have stopped to think about what work goes into crafting a (designer) pair of handmade shoes? Well, I’ll admit I hadn’t previously thought about it, until I happened to stumble across this video. The amount of skill and work involved is just mind boggling! I can’t say I’m really surprised as a maker of couture and corsetry there is a lot that goes into each individual garment that isn’t apparent (to the untrained eye) at first glance.

Another video I’d like to show you is a short documentary about the illustrious and very much respected Mr Pearl – an amazing self-taught corsetiere who’s probably best known for his work for Dita Von Teese and also for the work he does for major fashion houses. There’s not a lot of visual “eye candy” in this video, but I find his work fascinating and any glimpse into his world is a privilege. For those not in the know, Mr Pearl is probably the father of modern day corsetry and he is very sought after and incredibly exclusive. I hope to one day be as well respected.

The final video I’d like to share with you is a of the SS14 Elie Saab Haute Couture show. Every gown that comes down the catwalk is just more ornate and fabulous than the last. I adore everything that Elie Saab create and their level of detail in the embellishment of their gowns is just out of this world! I actually teach Embellishment Classes for those local enough to attend and I show my students some of the skills that you need to know to do this sort of work. It’s loads of fun teaching my students and so rewarding to see what they create (you can see their work here). But I digress… I’m sharing these videos with you to give you a little glimpse into what find inspiring. When I need a bit of a push to get back in front of my sewing machine, I’ll look at these gorgeous garments and feel a surge of inspiration to work harder than ever before, so that I can bring to life equally as beautiful garments of my own design and imagination.

As ever, thank you so much for reading. I hope you found the videos as inspiring as I do! Please feel welcome to share with me in the comments below what you thought of this collection of videos. I’d also love to see any videos or resources you find particularly inspiring 🙂


Comments (2)

  1. Jalea 5 years ago

    Finally got round to watching all these fantastic videos! It hadn’t really occurred to me to be inspired by modern couture as I’ve always looked to historical fashion, so thankyou! Although I agree with you that the stripy Dior collection is a bit odd, wow do those skirts move divinely!

  2. Meli 5 years ago

    Wow I was just floored by the Elie Saab collection! I loved all the videos you have put here but I just couldn’t look away from one after another of pure gorgeousness. I really enjoy reading your blog posts and thank you for showing me these videos. They were amazing 🙂

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