There is so much more to haute couture than what one sees in mainstream fashion media. I had the privilege of attending the unveiling of Atelier Gustavo Lins' Fall/Winter 2013-14 haute couture collection yesterday. It was the only show my time-poor schedule would allow but it was easily worth every second.
In a nod to his homeland, Mr. Lins showed at the elegant Brazilian embassy nestled in Paris' cosseted Right Bank. The collection was at once exuberant (in print and color) and restrained (in shape and line). A beautifully deconstructed kimono (one of Mr. Lins' specialities) in a clever mix of hand-painted print and vibrant color blocking caught my eye as did a more severe ecclesiastic tunic type dress whose sharp, clean lines called to mind Mr. Lins' architectural training. Leather details added to softly tailored coats (one of his design signatures) gave an otherwise classic garment a subtle subversive appeal. Overall, it was a highly sophisticated collection for a highly discerning consumer.
Over and above the strength of the collection itself, each time I have the pleasure of attending one of Mr. Lins' presentations, it serves to remind me of what haute couture really is all about. When it comes to couture, consumers have been conditioned to expect extravagant, over-the-top events. The big houses like Dior and Chanel have effectively turned their couture shows into spectacles complete with celebrity photo calls and giant glaciers hoisted onto the stage of the Grand Palais.
While there is nothing wrong with putting on a show per se, it does tend to suck the oxygen out of the air for the smaller, independent couture houses. More importantly, it tends to obfuscate the real value of haute couture: age old techniques passed down through generations of petites mains at the service of a designer's imagination and creativity. At Atelier Gustavo Lins, there are no celebrities decked out in their borrowed finery and paid to sit in the front row and there is certainly no glacier, no giant carrousel or vintage train either. There is no gimmick in other words. This is how it should be.
Above all, haute couture is (or should be) an incubator for ideas, the oxygen supply for the entire fashion ecosystem. Without it, fashion is deprived of an essential part of its sustenance and the entire industry is impoverished as a result. Thankfully, there are still couturiers like Mr. Lins to inject both fresh air and humility into that ecosystem. Fashion as an industry is all the stronger for it. Obrigado Senhor Lins.
The Luxe Chronicles