FALL-WINTER 2014/15 HAUTE COUTURE
BY ANNE BEREST
The bride treads over the immaculate ground in her sandals - entering the Grand Palais as if it was a church. The gold sandals are flat but her dress is huge.... with an endless train. Ashleigh Good takes each step forward almost barefoot, like a virgin dressed in white. She gives a slight turn to grant spectators a view of her pure, pale face, like a modern day Virgin Mary.
And suddenly, before wide-eyed spectators, a dramatic bump appears: the bride is pregnant! Her belly, like a full moon, is enhanced by the movements of the white fabric - an Empress-style dress in neoprene.
A pregnant woman in a virginal dress: it is a striking statement. This is how Karl Lagerfeld concludes the Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2014/2015 fashion show. It is not a question of "provocation" but rather the idea of "provoking something". Whether it be surprise, questioning or emotion. What does it say to us? That life is surprising, with the unexpected constantly springing up around every corner. And most importantly, that a woman's forms cannot be fully erased. It takes curves to give life. On the arm of the fashion designer, the bride transformed into the metaphor of creation: that of an impending birth.
It is difficult to say why the sudden view of a dress can sweep you away and resonate deep within you. It is a combination of a thousand things, conscious and buried - because a dress in reality is a thousand dresses. And this morning, Karl Lagerfeld's bride was a thousand women.
She was Mary Magdalene, the sinful woman. She was the medieval bride painted by Van Eyck, with her skin skimming sleeves emphasizing the fragility of the arm. She was the Empress Josephine, crowned by her husband, revealing her graceful white dress adorned with gold embroidery and lined with ermine. But above all, she was the Italian Renaissance Woman, throat bare, a cone-shaped torso refining the waist. A clear, natural line liberating the silhouette of the woman, giving the torso the majestic shape of a triangle.
Going back through the ages, the wedding dress worn by Ashleigh Good was nevertheless an absolute innovation. Made of neoprene, the material used for diving suits, this fabric allows the dress to be sculpted on a mold, without sewing it. "Seamless Haute Couture"... is that not the ultimate sophistication? Yes, an incredible delicacy, which consists in erasing every form of intervention to create a dress as perfect as the skin of a newborn baby.
Anne Berest is a writer. She is the author of "Sagan 1954", published by Stock, and co-author of "How to be a Parisian. Love, Style and Bad Habits" to be published by Double Day next September.
Photo by Benoit Peverelli