As another couturier passes away - Hubert de Givenchy - I wanted to write a piece I’ve been thinking about for a while. With only Lagerfeld and Valentino left, men who have touched or worked with the great couturiers of the 20th century, is it time to leave couture behind?
It feels like couture is out of touch with today. This isn’t about the vast sums of money it costs, even though that is a good point, it’s more about the creative rut that many couture houses have found themselves in.
Left - Hubert & Audrey
It used to be an area for experimentation and fantasy - remember Galliano’s Diorient Express at Dior and all the models dressed like Henry VIII or a Native American chiefs arriving by steam train? - rather than pretty clothes for people with more money than they know what to do with.
You only have to look at ‘Red Carpet’ dressing to see the state of couture. It’s dull. It’s boring. It’s safe. Of course, it’s beautifully made, but what exactly is couture adding to ‘fashion’?
The Oscars used to have a few fashion ‘moments’ worth staying up for, but it became a battlefield of money and sponsorship, but also, with a few rare exceptions, people more interested in their own vanity and safety off the worst dressed lists. Many of these people aren’t sophisticated enough to wear something challenging or directional.
Couture needs a starting point of anything goes. It should be about experimentation and wowing people with technical skills and craft. I know it needs a commercial element, but it’s never going to be a big seller. In its nature it needs to keep the numbers low, otherwise, what else are you paying for?
There are enough ‘dress-makers’ or newer brands like Ralph & Russo for the pretty dress crowd. Brands need to think what it brings to their image and whether it’s relevant going into the 21st century.
When Hedi Slimane was announced as the new Creative Director of Céline, it was also announced he would be doing couture. Really? A house that has never done couture before, does the world need anymore? This is more a case of massaging an ego than bringing anything new. It’ll just be a higher price point of the same things, like what he did at YSL.
Gucci is a brand which would be worth doing as couture because many of the ideas can’t be manufactured to the quality you’d expect of the design. Couture would take the pressure and lid off this and allow the designs to be as good as they should be.
I agree with keeping skills alive and I, wholeheartedly, believe in craft, but couture just doesn’t have the energy it once had. Couture should be a showplace of experimentation rather than a branding exercise to continually pump out the same thing.
I think couture is currently a reflection of the current lack of great designers. Sadly, without more McQueens coming along it will just be more variations of the same beautifully made things.
Just as I was writing the Oscars off as boring and a sea of black tuxedos out comes along a group of guys having fun on the red carpet. While the womenswear has gone safe and dull, there’s not much ‘fashion’ to see anymore, the menswear has seen the opportunity to express the wearer’s personality. The trick is to have fun yet also look cool and stylish; a hard task, let me tell you.
Here are my thoughts on the night’s highlights:
What a peach of a picture! A king is born. Timothée Chalamet is giving me young Sun King here in virginal white. We all know what happens in the film! It feels like a costume, yet it's cool, and the black boots keep it grounded in youth. Hammer has gone fairly safe in a standard red velvet number, but it's the contrast between the two which makes the cool factor high.
Left - Timothée Chalamet in Berluti, Armie Hammer in Giorgio Armani See the Call Me By Your Name Get The Look here
What a homage to the above by James Ivory. Wearing a shirt with the face of Hollywood’s new golden prince on. The shirt was painted by artist Andrew Mania.
Left - James Ivory in Andrew Mania
It’s difficult for any man to look anything other than elegant in a Tom Ford tuxedo jacket. It's the long jacket and turn-back cuffs that make it. A red one made it onto TheChicGeek Christmas Wish List 2017 - here
Left - Ansel Elgort in Tom Ford
Straight off the AW18 catwalk, this S&M take on a black tuxedo works because it still looks put together and polished.
Left - Adam Rippon in Moschino
These suits always say 'Prada' to me. The high shape makes it feel vintage especially with the less structured black bow tie.
Below - Tom Holland in Hermès
More ChicGeek Oscar fashion here
Ryan Gosling topped TheChicGeek's Best Dressed Oscars list last year- here, and, again, his laid-back confidence shows with the reintroduction of the fun and retro ruffled shirt. He hasn't gone full-on Jared Leto Gucci, here, but, this is a wearable interpretation of Gucci's influence on menswear right now.
You can pick these shirts us from vintage shops or online and they add a touch of personality to a formal dinner or prom suit. Add a large floppy bow tie and you'll be the life and soul of the party.
Left - Ryan Gosling in Gucci Oscars 2017
This isn't flower-power in the traditional hippie sense. This is flower-power in the Jared-Leto-at-the-Oscars way. Oversized corsages worn with confidence and a modern masculinity. We've got the all new singing and dancing Gucci to thank for these floral flourishes. For SS16, things are bold and colourful. These are perfect for something different for a prom or an evening wear look. Wear where a bow-tie or neck tie would be, or add in your button hole. Who said menswear wasn't fun?!
Left - Jared Leto in Gucci at the 2016 Oscars
Left - The peacock male, Gucci's SS16 advertising campaign
Below - The corsage on the Gucci SS16 catwalk
How to make your own flower-power corsage:
1. Look for a large silk headed flower. I found some good ones in the local pound shop. Go for a dark colour, if you want masculine, or bright, fuchsia pink, if you really want to stand out.
2. Use pliers to snip off the flower head from the wire stem.
3. Find a piece of ribbon, long enough to tie around your neck. Use a ribbon from a carrier bag, if you can find one, or buy a small length.
4. Snip, using a pair of scissors, a small hole in the middle of the ribbon.
5. Push the stem of the flower through and, using a glue gun, generously secure the end to the ribbon.
Voila! You're red carpet ready!
Left - One TheChicGeek made earlier!
See how TheChicGeek styles his here
Left - dunhill SS16
Right - Bally SS16
Expectations are never very high when it comes to menswear at the Oscars. Giorgio Armani usually has a monopoly of safety with his sea of black tuxedos and matching bow-ties.
Well, it's the small changes in menswear which really make a difference. By simply changing his self-tie bow-tie from black to white, Ryan Gosling has given men's formalwear a contemporary freshness. While safely in the parameters of acceptability it added an element of difference and style.
Definitely something to think about come prom/party season.
Left - Ryan Gosling in Gucci presenting at the 2016 Oscars