That’s haute! Best couture collections of spring/summer 2022

Composite photo of three outfits

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Although some may gawk at the notion of critiquing haute couture amidst such global turmoil, we at The Daily Californian exalt art appreciation as a vital way to boost collective morale. And with facial expressions hiding behind KN95s, it’s safe to say that clothing has become a primary tool for outwardly expressing one’s inner authenticity. As the 2022 spring/summer couture fashion shows come to a close, we’ve highlighted three noteworthy couture collections to inspire your spring attire and put a pep in your spring step. Without further ado, we recognize the following standout collections:

Maison Schiaparelli

If there was one collection that left fashion lovers’ jaws on the floor this season, it was Schiaparelli’s royal, referential and escapist collection. This spring assemblage brilliantly bridges past with future, earth with space and human with divine. 

Schiaparelli’s strategic use of gold-adorned leather, both as artful armor and as decorative accessory, screams “expensive” — or rather, whispers it. Often complimenting a rich black fabric, these golden pieces attract the eye without stealing the show. Jewel-encrusted sculptures form striking sleeves in look seven, the boning of a corset in look 13 and a birdlike brazier in look 31. 

Another golden egg is look 29 — made entirely out of the same gold-coated leather, this divine garment appears to melt and crawl across the model’s body. Its regal silhouette and gaudy detailing consecrate it as an indisputable showstopper. Contrasting this flashy look is look 27, where a sophisticated, black jersey dress meets an even more sophisticated black headpiece whose long rooster feathers effortlessly pour over the model’s visage.

To diversify the collection, Schiaparelli’s extra-wide brimmed hats honor humanity’s voyage-centric history, which juxtaposes the contemporary “biker short chic” styles sported in looks one, three and four. These elements of cultural nostalgia complement the collection’s sense of futurism, creating a cohesive work of art that simultaneously celebrates human history and daydreams of a divine future.

Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier’s experimental approach to couture has always held a special place in the fashion world. The French designer’s notorious use of pattern mixing, unconventional shapes and textures and angular corsets has captured young Gen Z audiences, especially those entangled in the world of online re-selling. 

This year, Glenn Martens from Y/Project stepped into Gaultier’s mismatched shoes and presented a collection that exhibits all things Gaultier: unconventional femininity, flawless technique and a flirty, fresh zest for life. The collection begins with a few subtle yet powerful looks that combine delicate ruffles, bold vertical lines, masculine styles and simple silhouettes. Gaultier’s extravagance grows slowly but surely: each new look brings added elements of volume in the form of ruffles, veils and trains. 

The collection includes deconstructed, mummified mesh in looks 16 and 17, more playful mesh and oceanic colors in looks 21 and 22 and a bold use of streetwear-inspired denim in look 18. By look 26, the show consists of primarily grandiose yet intricately ruffled, voluminous skirts and dresses. Look 28’s iridescent emerald green gown leaves a bold impression, as does the classic yet contemporary monochromatic beauty of look 36, wherein a simple nude corset is paired with a larger-than-life nude skirt piece reminiscent of a luxury duvet cover. All of Gaultier’s looks are visually invigorating, risk-taking and red-carpet-ready — everything one could ask for from haute couture.

Viktor & Rolf

The most controversial collection to hit the runway this season was Viktor & Rolf’s elevated ode to old Hollywood — an experimental compilation of dainty dresses and dapper suits, all stamped with the avant-garde signature of an extra long torso. For certain looks, this tall-shoulder innovation is truly beautiful. Look 11 is a prime example: the iridescent purple dress’ elevation occurs only at the nape of the neck, which frames the model’s neck with taste, elegance and an element of science fiction. 

Look seven is another shiny stroke of grace: A large bow placed lower than usual, on the bottom half of the torso, pairs marvelously with this lavender dress’ deep V-neck and elevated shoulders. Looks 15 and 21 play with masculine collars, while look 22 uses statement-sleeves to dramatize the traditional bridal-esque gown. Look 17’s asymmetrical styling creates an unusually pleasant “pulling” effect on the model, enabling the model to resemble a marionette with disjointed limbs attached to strings, pulled up and down by the fashion gods above. 

However, Viktor & Rolf’s elongated torso strategy didn’t always work. When applied to more masculine designs, these bulky suit jacket shoulders swallowed models’ necks entirely. Though this disappearing neck distortion made for some interesting internet memes, a floating head attached to some peculiarly giant shoulders may not cut it for the world of haute couture. 

All the same, the Viktor & Rolf collection has truly captured the current zeitgeist. When will the pandemic end, you ask? The Viktor & Rolf spring 2022 response: some permanently shrugged shoulders.

Contact Piper Samuels at [email protected].