Haute Couture @ Dep Fashion Show 11

Forget the numerous rules and regulations of the exclusive “Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture” in Paris. What I love most about this area of fashion design is the attention to detail, the drama and the art with which each piece of clothing is used to convey the designer’s story.

It’s also a good opportunity for a show and the designers at the Dep Haute Couture Show 11 didn’t disappoint!

Phrases like “astronaut construction” were appearing on the page before me, quickly followed by “Straws?”, “Horns on shoulders” and perhaps more memorably “glitter cat suit, white antlers reaching from behind”. It was difficult to explain all of the concepts that Truong Thanh Long sent down the runway, but luckily his consistent use of space-age silver, gold and white managed to keep the collection connected throughout, especially with such a diverse range of materials and silhouettes.

Amongst the straws, the mosaic mirrored panels and the antlers were wearable pieces, the beautiful white low cut blazer which in my opinion stole the show from its accompanying plastic straw skirt. If white is the colour of Spring 2013, and fine sheer mesh is walking down some of the most famous runways at fashion week, then Truong Thanh Long is bang on trend for 2013.

Science Fiction/Intergalactic fashion is always going to be tricky to wear on a day to day basis, but to what extent should Haute Couture be wearable? On the one hand everyone likes the drama and the fantasy of an elaborate creation, but for me, it needs to be worn, even if you need extra help getting out of the taxi. Cong Tri on the other hand has obviously taken this question into account with his collection, where even the most elaborate of his pieces could be interpreted or modified into something someone could and would in fact wear.

The almost impossible intricacy of his appliqué detailing and the use of heavy luxurious knitwear, somehow transformed by some trick into a visually harder looking material resembling chainmail, and the models moving to the crescendo of opera music building in the background – I was instantly gripped.

The music did cut off due to a technical problem, but it didn’t matter. I’m not sure anyone noticed, they were too busy focused on the models, each a moving column from a past time, draped in pearlescent fabric, delicate silvers, heavier knitwear and even a subtly scaled bodice. Peaked shoulders, cleverly embellished appliqué and the square backed silhouettes would be interesting trends for 2013 but I am doubtful the over dress additions like the 19th Century style black and white Mantelet and collarless silver blazer will catch on in the Saigon heat, but added a decadence to Cong Tri’s show.

A decadence shared by Giao Linh and Ly Qui Khanh’s contrasting aesthetics. Giao Linh’s royal theme was not immediately obvious to me as her own interpretation of the theme, using plenty of blood red ruffles and black leather pants instantly reminded me of Spain and a touch of the military, enforced by the models marching past drummer boys whilst wearing fierce metal heels, but eventually the idea of royalty became more and more pronounced.

The element of war remained; with the added darker twist of a brilliant straightjacket design over the upper arms. There was something interesting about the constriction, still allowing movement of the lower arms but keeping the silhouette tight and uniform.

Another designer keen to follow his theme to the letter was Ly Qui Khanh, whose magical garden came complete with unicorns, multicoloured butterflies, parrots and a giant rabbit’s head. Unlike Giao Linh’s mix of soft and hard textures, Ly Qui Khanh went for a palette of candied colours, dipped in glitter and sparkle highlighting the magic of his story.

In terms of imagination and bringing a theme to life, Ly Qui Khanh’s soft rabbit head piece was the highlight of his collection for me. As strange as it is to say, the rabbit had life to it, and its giant ears were almost cartoon/gothic like in their construction.

Unlike Cong Tri’s pieces, there were few easily wearable items amongst the magical garden animals and creatures, and although the dresses came in almost every conceivable shape and size, they weren’t cohesive when looked at as a whole collection and although I liked the theme, there was just too much going on to focus. I do want that rabbit head piece though!

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