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The Raf Simons Effect: The Rise Of Demi-Couture

December 6, 2011

This is a trend that’s been brewing since Raf Simons ingeniously teamed couture and sportswear for the Jil Sander SS11 show. Bar none, that collection stole the season and it’s profound ripple effect has managed to reach everyone from sportswear designers to Nicki Minaj in Oscar de la Renta, to the bloggers hanging out on street corners in elaborate floor-sweeping vintage couture dresses.

In London, land of eccentric street-wear, Demi-Couture is also having a bit of a moment via the likes of Mary Katrantzou. Remarkably, Katrantzou sold 18 units of her AW11/12 Jewel Tree dress. This was the dress that came complete with a padded crinoline peplum skirt and a lattice of crystals and appliqued enameled roses. It required not 1 but 4 studios to complete it, putting in more than 150 hours and, according to, made one seamstress cry.

With our economy going in to complete meltdown, it begs me to ask the question – what’s up with the return of Couture? Or the rise of Demi-Couture? I find myself struggling to make peace with the frivolities of my job and yet there are people out there buying gowns that easily go in to five figures. Who would have thought in times like these the lavish, elaborate, ornate look of Versace would make such a huge come-back? Or that the house of Versace would even return to the Couture runways in Paris this January?

I suppose if the world is falling apart, I’d rather look at a tale of ethereal lace, flowing chiffon, shiny satin, diaphanous silk and delicate velvet rather than a pair of ripped denim cut-offs…

On a side note – I do love the fact that ‘Couture’ originally referred to Lincolnshire Lad – Charles Frederick Worth’s work. Whether he was in Paris or not at the time is irrelevant – the focus being that he was an Englishman!

1950s_Balenciaga_CelineA cinched waist via 1950′s Balenciaga and today’s Celine SS12

balmaindress0_edit-1Denni from the Chicmuse in vintage Balmain

Dior_New_Look_Jil_SanderThe original ‘New Look’ via Christian Dior and the updated version via Raf Simons for Jil Sander SS12

COMME-DES-GARCONS-SPRING-2012-RTW-PODIUM-001Its not easy understanding Rei Kawakubo’s references but I’m positive there is some 50s Dior & Balenciaga influence in this Comme des Garcons SS12 collection…

Jacques_Fath_Dries_Van_Noten50s  Jacques Fath & Dries Van Noten SS12

THEYSKENS-THEORY-SPRING-2012-RTW-PODIUM-044Olivier Theyskens for Theyskens’ Theory SS12

Dior_Hakaanpeplums via 50s Dior and Hakaan SS12

Gareth-pugh-SPRING-2012a peplum via Gareth Pugh

volume via 1950s Patricia Day and SS12 Acne

50s styling at Rochas

50s Givenchy & Giles SS12

Oscar de la Renta SS12 via Oscar PR Girl

Volume via 50s Balenciaga & Milica Blagojevic for Elle US in Oscar de la Renta

nicki_minaj_american_music_awards_oscar_de_la_rentaNicki Minaj in Oscar de le Renta at The American Music Awards 2011

50s Balenciaga & Jason Wu SS12 – a full advocate of the rise in demi-couture

“The Glorious Tradition” Irving Penn for Vogue US December 1995

the original bell sleeve via 50s Balenciaga & the updated version at Roksanda Ilincic SS12

Ashley+Olsen_vintage_Christian_DiorAshley Olsen in 1950s Christian Dior looking perfect as usual

original drama via 50s Dior and an updated version via SS12 Paco Rabanne

Karla from Karla’s Closet in an 50s couture inspired vintage dress

Jacques Fath & Giles SS12

images via, The Chicmuse, Karla’s Closet, Olsens Anonymous, Design Museum, Pamela Emmanuel – if I’ve missed anyone out, let me know!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2011 7:11 pm

    Wonderful pics and wonderful post! That’s an intriguing subject.. maybe a new “couture” is the only way out from all this fashionable mess. I believe in craftsmanship, but also in technology and genuine creativity !

  2. sam permalink
    December 13, 2011 7:57 pm

    Beautiful Natalie x

  3. M.D. permalink
    December 14, 2011 12:34 am

    You are the Queen of research and knowledge!!

  4. Augusta permalink
    December 14, 2011 2:48 pm

    Wow – if the Raf Simons to Dior rumors are true then this post was impeccable in its timing! I’ve just found your blog for the first time and I must say its really impressive. Not many like you out there!

  5. Antheia permalink
    December 20, 2011 3:49 pm

    Let me start by saying what a wonderful post this is. You have a really refreshing approach to fashion and trend that I’ve not seen on other blogs. Truly exceptional.

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