Originally couture was only accessible to the 2000 women (worldwide) who could afford it. These days, it has become more about publicity than pay-checks. While some of the collections lacked enthusiasm, there were those, that stood out. These designers, season after season, create statements both bold and shy and have become the muses of fashion: Elie Saab, Alexis Mabille and Chanel. Granted other gods are amongst them, such as Giambattista Valli, Dior, and Gaultier who were gorgeous and provocative. However, there is something special about this triumphant trio. The houses embody the classical meaning of couture, and that’s something to be appreciated. First up, Elie Saab.
The Lebanese fashion designer is known for his exquisite designs and impeccable taste. His ability to embellish fabrics in a way that is simultaneously non-restrictive and overbearing is truly an art. Throughout the years, we have seen the design house grow increasingly popular on the red carpet, both with the collection and with couture, but what makes Saab a true couturier is his principle. Like the great artists before him: Picasso, Degas, and Monet, Elie Saab has a niche. He sticks with that niche and recreates himself within the nest that he has carved out. Rather than creating a brand-new world every season, he increases the drama and gilds the materials. In a sense, the collection is for a princess but the couture, is for the queen. Not only does the designer produce decadent gowns that are wearable, appropriate, and chic but he follows fashion protocol. He creates a color palette, flows through it effortlessly, and ends with a wedding gown look. He isn’t playing it safe, he’s playing it right. He creates a story and articulates it beautifully.
A new comer on the scene, starting out in 2005, Alexis Mabille is young and embodies that in every sense of the word. Having to compete with great legends such as Karl Lagerfeld and Jean Paul Gautier, it’s easy for one to be afraid and timid. Yet, the French powerhouse creates drama and a witty repertoire between the collection and the audience that is both refreshing and impressive. The exaggerated silhouettes, whimsical colors, and obnoxious adornments, make his collections fun and exciting. His fabric choices, attention to detail, and allusion to French aristocracy make it fashion forward and imaginative. He perfectly represents the younger voice of fashion. Bringing forth the voice of his generation, with the tools of legends, he has expertly manoeuvred around the limitations whilst staying true to the art form.
Last but not least, Chanel. What can I say about Chanel, one of the first relevant fashion houses and no doubt the most influential? Chanel is… that is, Chanel just is. Karl Lagerfeld owes us nothing. He doesn’t have to follow rules, he doesn’t answer to anyone. He just does what he wants, and every time it works. He, much like Coco herself, is fashion and his couture collections reflect just that. They are bold, provocative, fresh, and sartorialistic, but they do all of that in the Chanel voice. Yes, he put out mullet dresses and fringe, but in a Chanel tweed – a very expensive Chanel tweed- he may have added random chiffon prints, but never did he stray from a Coco silhouette. Chanel is the powerhouse of couture. It’s glamourous yet casual, it’s embellished yet simple, it’s every aspect of fashion – speaking to everyone – but still being completely mind-blowing and unattainable. Chanel is the top dog, the perfect combination of the spectrum. Outrageous and dramatic like the younger Mabille, yet iconic and romantic like the classical dresses of Saab.
At the end of the day, the 3 muses stand to represent the body of fashion. The young, the classic, and the legendary. They inspires us, they teach us, and most importantly, they make us fall in love.