Drizzle really is the meteorological embodiment of January. Not quite rain, not quite not rain, it’s grey and damp and generally rather depressing. The exact opposite of drizzle, then, has been occuring in Paris over the last week – couture week. A tonic for our souls that most people wouldn’t have even known was happening, couture week consists of a slew of fashion shows debuting the most outlandish, the most over-the-top, breathtaking (and eye-wateringly expensive) creations from the industry’s power players such as Chanel, Dior, Valentino and Schiaparelli. Of course, these shows are staged twice a year and, from a business perspective, are relevant only for the 1%. But this January was different.
Even if you loathe fashion, couldn’t care less that your blue jumper is, in fact, cerulean and would rather book tickets to the next Fyre Festival than ever look at a catwalk, this couture week is for you. It’s for all of us. While 2019 doesn’t feel any more secure, or less terrifying, politically speaking, than 2018 did, fashion is quite rightly providing the escapism we all deserve. Well, fashion and Celine Dion, that is. Celine’s return to the spotlight has been thoroughly enjoyable. The Pool, for one, has been keeping a close eye on the Dionaissance for a while now. But, oh, how she excelled herself on the front row at Valentino.
Sitting next to the brand’s founder and namesake, who relinquished the reins of his company back in 2008, Celine could be seen wiping away tears as the pretty exquisite (I have to say) creations, designed by Pierpaolo Piccioli, glided before her. OK, I may be playing it cool: this was one of the most incredible collections I have ever seen. Pink satin gowns, delicately structured layers, soft trench coats sprinkled with sequins, intricate embroidery, frills! Flounces! So many florals! I would have been weeping right alongside Celine.
It wasn’t just Valentino, either. Viktor & Rolf was the brand that launched 1,000 memes this week, with its statement dresses, in the most literal sense. There were 18 in total, all crafted from tulle, in every colour of the rainbow. And they truly tapped into the mood of January 2019. “I’m not shy I just don’t like you,” was emblazoned on a snow white gown that appeared to defy gravity. “Sorry I’m late I didn’t want to come,” said another. The final slogan? “I want a better world.” Well, quite.
There was the usual spectacle at Chanel, this time in the form of a specially constructed villa in the middle of the Grand Palais, chiffon, suits and big hair – not to mention a bride in a swimsuit. And – gasp – no Karl present to take his customary bow. Let’s all hope he’s OK and not being cryogenically frozen as we speak. For what would fashion be without that little grey ponytail?
Meanwhile, Jean Paul Gaultier riffed on his beloved Breton stripes via a love letter to the 80s, Dior made the circus look chic and Schiaparelli paired cowboy boots with frothy, tiered dresses and sequin skirt suits (!). Erin O’Connor also made a fabulous appearance. Givenchy, too, was a marvel, as Clare Waight Keller showed sleeveless tuxedo jackets with floor-sweeping fuchsia skirts, a whole lot of impressive lace work and oversized bows worn on the models’ backs.
It was all a whirlwind; a fantasy of organza, tulle and chiffon whipped up to make us temporarily forget about Brexit, and to make Celine Dion weep tears of pure joy. You can swoon over it all, scoff at it, laugh at it – whatever, it’s the very essence of escapism. Nobody’s really buying it, unless you’re the Princess of Genovia (yes, that’s a Princess Diaries reference, thank you very much), and anyway, that’s not the point. Fashion, like art or music, is there to be enjoyed; to elicit emotion, whatever that may be. And it may just save us all from the January drizzle.