* Gaultier, Valentino show range of Paris haute couture
* Gypsy vibe at Gaultier, Valentino opts for Renaissance
* Haute couture is feather in cap of fashion world
(Rewrites throughout to add Valentino show)
By Alexandria Sage
PARIS, Jan 23 Jean Paul Gaultier chose swirling
translucent veils, the sound of sitars, and the insouciance of
Gypsy culture for his haute couture show on Tuesday, while
Valentino opted for an ethereal yet decorative look that evoked
the bloom of the Renaissance.
The Spring 2013 collections presented on Wednesday by the
two design houses, one French and one Italian, found inspiration
from different epochs and parts of the globe, pointing to the
diversity seen during Paris Fashion Week, the creme de la creme
of the global fashion industry.
Gaultier, often labelled the bad boy of French fashion,
turned eastward to India for inspiration, transporting his
audience to Rajasthan, with sinewy models sporting oversized
earrings and billowy veils in periwinkle, tangerine and pink.
Valentino - under new owners the Qatari royal family and
with the designing duo of Maria Grazie Chiuri and Pierpaolo
Piccioli at the helm - presented a more sober but no less
theatrical vision. Gowns that a 15th century queen would have
been proud of featured patterns that brought to mind iron
grillwork in a formal garden.
This range of options for women willing to shell out
thousands of dollars for a made-to-order haute couture outfit
help prop up the global women's luxury apparel market, estimated
at 27 billion euros ($35 billion) and growing, according to
consultancy Bain & Company.
Only a small number of houses such as Christian Dior, Chanel
and Giorgio Armani are allowed to exhibit haute couture in
Paris, where manufacturing is carefully regulated and work must
be sewn by hand in order to be considered haute couture.
At Gaultier, majority owned by Spanish family luxury group
Puig, some expected an elephant as the grand finale, but instead
a delightful Mother Goose moment saw an elaborately decorated
bride flipping up her voluminous skirt to reveal four little
children who scampered down the runway to applause.
Backstage, Gaultier said it was not the first time he had
been influenced by India, but this time he evoked the Gypsies, a
migratory people whose centuries-old ancestral home is India.
"It's glimmering, it's incredible the colours that you see,
it's superb," he told reporters, speaking of Rajasthan. "I tried
to recreate a bit of that, but more the Gypsy side, rather than
the Maharaja side. It's more like couture Gypsies."
The audience - which included French film star Catherine
Deneuve and actress Rossy de Palma, a muse of Spanish director
Pedro Almodovar - began furiously snapping photos at the
appearance of a black form-fitting gown with an exposed
brassiere whose diaphanous hot pink veil added a jolt of colour.
Bold stripes, tight pleating and even fringe figured
prominently in the collection, where a dose of colourful
patchwork offered a fresh, devil-may-care attitude.
Gaultier said the patchwork was hard to recreate, but
offered a fashion tip to anyone with scissors.
"In the time of economic crisis, those who are game, take
your old clothes, cut them up and make patchwork! It's a new
BORROWED FROM BOTTICELLI
The liner notes for Valentino's collection described it as
"sublime art" and indeed, many of the looks could have been
stolen from a Botticelli painting.
With founder Valentino Garavani, who retired in 2008, in the
front row, guests admired the parade of ivory, black and carnal
red dresses, where heavy embroidery reminiscent of armour
nevertheless imparted a light, evanescent feel.
"We think that beauty lies in the armour, in the
proportion," Piccioli told Reuters. "That comes from the
Renaissance, the proportion of Italian master paintings."
Silk piping wove its way across a translucent black cape
covering a diaphanous white gown, the cape's swirls and
geometric patterns evoking the ornamental gates to a garden.
High necklines and tight long sleeves evoked the gowns one
sees adorning the marble tombs of many a deceased
Renaissance-era queen, but Chiuri and Piccioli's work never felt
The decorative swirling pattern on some dresses evoked
tapestries, while the sharp horizontal bodices of others
recalled the Elizabethan-era.
Despite the many references to centuries gone by, the
collection felt fresh and elegant. Backstage, a note to models
summed up what the designers hoped to communicate: "You are all
beautiful. Be Light. Be Delicate."
In an Oct. 15 report, Bain forecast the worldwide luxury
industry would bring in estimated revenues of 212 billion euros
($281.56 billion) in 2012, of which women's apparel would be a
27 billion euro slice.
($1 = 0.7530 euros)
(Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Paul Casciato and Jon