Paris Haute Couture Week Fall 2022: The Rules of Retro Evasion

haute couture fall 2022 from balenciaga and schiaparelli

Courtesy of the designers; beautiful pictures

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Couture is standing firmly in the past. In a few years, this medium has made an argument as to why it still makes sense in the 2020s; watch: last season future, sci-fi and last season schedule full of new people and playful services. But that mood gave way to a Fall 2022 that tore through the mid-century period of the medium Smile the Golden age. Fashion always reflects the times, and cannot exist outside of them, as much as you like. But these collections seem to contain nostalgia for a time before making political statements de rigueur on the runway. It is not escapism to the extent that, at times, creating something beautiful can be political in itself, a small act of protest in an ugly world.

At Balenciaga, Demna (the designer currently bears only his first name) gave a nod to the past silhouette of the house and beyond, like models carrying numbers signifying each look. Kim Kardashian pulled Dovima in a fitted black gown and Nicole Kidman, Dua Lipa, and Hunter Schafer joined her in their own take on classic runway styles, ensuring the headlines would hit. But it’s not just the big-name high-fashion newcomers that show up: Danielle Slavik, who modeled for founder Cristóbal Balenciaga in the 1960s, has returned to the catwalk, closing the loop between past and present. Here’s the Demna, though, which also has plenty of modern touches – most notably a Bluetooth audio system bag in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen and a high-fashion face shield that gives the wearer the look of a monstrous star.

a black feathered cape from Balenciaga's fall 2022 couture

A look from Balenciaga’s fall 2022 couture collection.

Authorization of the designer.

Elsa Schiaparelli is a woman who considers a lobster – and then doesn’t hesitate to dress it up in a cape. Her still-influential Surrealist vision – now on display at the “Shock!” show In fact, he’s titled this season’s collection “Born Again,” with Elsa’s adorable cropping lines including falcon-like pigeons, flowers sprouting from the bodice, and “drawers.” complete with gilded scissors instead of pockets. Even the non-Surrealist looks feel like they’re giving a nod to a bygone era, like his Christian Lacroix-influenced ’80s ensemble or the celadon frock and Mariacarla Boscono’s black necklace is worthy of a Sargent heroine.

Black and celadon gown from schiaparelli fall 2022 couture

A couture dress by Schiaparelli fall 2022.

Giovanni Giannoni

In her show notes, Roseberry made a clear argument in favor of fantasy in a world where fashion is now expected to be tied to every current event. He acknowledges that the directive reflects the times as a mindset that has led to some “extraordinary work…. he wrote. “The more difficult path is to remain a committed member of society, while, in one’s work, daring to return to the kind of creative innocence, to that state of wonder and fear in which we all feeling when watching their first transcendental performance.

a white robe with pink feather embellishments

A look from Giambattista Valli’s fall 2022 couture.


Giambattista Valli has always been drawn to perfection in the past. In her first show since 2019, the designer looked to UK gardens and New York nightclubs (specifically Studio 54) to create images where triangles meet canopy. leaves, his beloved mantles have turned into various plant forms. Feathers and society worthy of swans updos, a callback to the intricate embellishments of a long-lost world.

Beauty has a bad rap, in that it’s often seen as unsuitable for seriousness. And fantasy retreat can be an apolitical choice. But other times, the medium is the message. As Roseberry said, “I think we sometimes get defensive when critics accuse us of just wanting to make beautiful things. But what’s wrong with wanting to make beautiful things?

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