Of all the fashion weeks in the world, Paris haute couture is the pinnacle, period — just ask any aspiring designer or fashion aficionado. Translating to high dressmaking or high fashion, the realm of haute couture is the luxurious reserve of the industry’s preeminent designers, and a breeding ground to exercise their creative flair (usually in layers of tulle, intricate beading and extravagant lace). Focused on craftsmanship, construction and the customised fit of the client, the limits of haute couture lie at the designer’s imagination, making it one of the most hotly anticipated events in the industry calendar.
The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the official governing body of the French fashion industry, appoints a select number of designers each season to show in the official schedule — a great honour considering only so many design houses are eligible and client bases are so small (with a global estimate of 4,000). And, each year, hordes of stylists, editors and the upper echelons of the world — the clients — descend on the capital of couture, the city of Paris, to take in the special collections. To seize this opportunity and make their own entrée into fashion’s top tier, several designers elect to show their own couture wares in the same week, to coincide with the schedule and have the chance to expose their clothes to the same discerning audience.
How does it feel to be showing in Paris?
“I felt extremely proud to be flying the Australian flag at such an important event on the global fashion calendar. I also felt a bit nervous in the beginning and then very exhilarated and humbled during and after our show. It was incredible to be showing amongst other talented designers. We have been really encouraged by the extensive exposure and positive feedback from the Parisian and international press.”
Can you tell us about the process of design, from sketch to execution?
“Creating a couture gown from the initial sketch to final finishing is a labour intensive as well as an organic process. The first step is an in-depth consultation with the client to understand their needs and wants. Then, [we produce] a mood board and feeling of the design for each piece and the collection is created. I would usually do several initial sketches to get all ideas on paper with notes about colours, fabrics, laces and embellishments.
A vital step in this design process is the know-how of the technical aspects of creating the gown from a sketch. That includes knowledge about fabric behavior, pattern making, cutting and construction. All of those aspects are extremely important and taken into account before finalising the design.”
What was the inspiration behind this collection?
“The collection is called ‘Nomade’ and is inspired by the journeys across vast lands. The movement of clouds and oceans is reflected in the flowing blue crinkle silk chiffon, layers of navy organza and grey tulle ostrich feather shoulder piece. The colour palette is inspired by my childhood adventures in the bazaars of Pakistan reminiscent of turmeric gold, grapes and aubergine. The textured red ruffles pay homage to the incredible red textures of central Australia.”
Where do you find inspiration generally?
“It’s really important to look for inspiration everywhere. Inspiration can come from anywhere, at any moment. It could be a conversation with someone or a split second flicker of a vision. It’s all around us in daily life. Art, architecture, nature, music and our very own clients are a huge source of inspiration.”
Interview by Jen Nurick for Vogue Australia
Images: Mephistopheles Productions