Elie Tahari Fall 2011 // Photo by Elva Ramirez

From the Runway: Favorites from the Fall 2011 Couture Collections

Couture is like fine art--beautiful, often esoteric and frequently conceptual. When I was a wee fashion fan I was unable to relate to couture fashion because I spent too much time trying to figure out how and where I would wear such creations. But just as I don't have a wall in my house that would suit the hanging of da Vinci's

Mona Lisa

or Edvard Munch's

The Scream

, I would rarely find the occasion to don a couture creation in my freelance writer real-life.

I was perusing the Fall 2011 Couture Collections and there were a few standouts among the various collections. Put your thinking cap on, and keep reading!

Armani Privé

I absolutely love Armani because of the clarity of design--unfussy without being plain or boring, Armani is one of the more approachable couture designers. The Privé label (Armani's couture line) was established in 2005 and stars including Katie Holmes, Zoe Saldana, Cate Blanchett and Claire Danes are big fans; Anne Hathaway chose Privé for the 2011 Golden Globes, and though the reviews of her choice were mixed, I loved the strong-shouldered, heavily-embellished old-Hollywood glamor.

The 2011 Privé fall couture collection has heavy Eastern influences; Giorgio Armani described it as an homage to Japan. (A la Pierre Cardin?) The lines are severe but the designs feminine, with pops of floral patterns and embroidery. When the floral patterns are used used in "peek-a-boo" fashion the effect is strangely bold and totally elegant. The occasional obi knot and the use of large, splashy floral prints are the most obvious nods to Japan. This is a very whimsical collection--not a word I would normally use to describe Armani, and I love it.


One of my first bottles of "good" perfume was a bottle of Givenchy Amarige. Today, I can't stand the smell of the stuff and these days I pay a lot more attention to the clothes than the fragrances that come from the label. The 2011 Givenchy fall couture collection is positively frothy: The light, airy fabrics and light colors speak more to spring and summer while some of them are almost bridal (in a kind of goth way). I'm talking tulle, feathers and beading fit for a (very rich, very statuesque) bride.

I am not sure what the collection has to do with fall, but I love the details which are exquisite and beautifully executed. The thought of sewing on all of those embellishments is making my fingers hurt.


You didn't think I was going to write about couture and not write about Chanel, and my darling Uncle Karl, did you? The best of the collection were the Classic Chanel suits in a traditional Chanel palette (think dark neutrals like gray and navy); the occasional bright pop of fuchsia on the Chanel runway weren't popular with every fashion critic. I love it when Uncle Karl brings the funk, but my favorites are always the classics: The tweed Chanel suit always manages to look contemporary, even more than half a century after it emerged on the fashion scene.

I'm in love with all of the blue, which in navy (or midnight, if you think the difference is more than semantic) is a much richer neutral than light grays or even black. My darling Uncle Karl--you have done it again!

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