couture week: maison rabih kayrouz

(images via vogue)

as the press is wont to do, keeping the blood in their pages—war headlines, company takeovers, and haute couture alike—it always amuses me to see each couple of seasons the loud death proclamations sounded for couture once again.  never fearing that it may be their overbearing coverage (i remember a couple of years ago wwd’s claims of just how barren the shops were some five days before christmas, practically selling us the recession themselves, whatever they might profess not to want it—and whatever my own experiences were of wall-to-wall packed boutiques) warding the public off, last year, for example, in a particularly spicy turn of phrase, cathy horyn of the nyt proclaimed that “(c)outure is slipping off people’s radars faster than a U.F.O.”

well, okay.  yet each season, as i again turn to the scores of pictures that come clicking in, practically each time with another designer i’d as yet not covered—or, in some cases, even heard of—i’d argue that it’s an art form as ever doing all it can to survive.  no, it may not be thriving on such terms as in years past (or is it?), but shows have adapted, become something they once weren’t.  case in point: the new breed of quieter, almost minimalist designers, like maison rabih kayrouz (and bouchra jarrar).  yes, the press may be dominated by stories of excess (the second-closest thing they can get to blood, after tolling their doomsday bells) that stem from the likes of zuhair murad and givenchy, but some kids wisely know that, whatever money their customers may toss around, they not all of them want us to know it.

thus, as wwd describes, “Rabih Kayrouz took the world of sports — more specifically, the pool — as the starting point for his collection of sleek silhouettes” for a/w 2011 haute coutre.  echoing the precise, near-minimalist details and mostly-neutral palette of the recent calvin klein resort show, the designer sent his girls out in tones of pale lemon, pearl gray, white, flesh, navy, black, and soft cadet blue.  without exception, the models were barefoot, sloshing their way along a flooded catwalk in a move that could, alternately, be viewed as something peaceful and almost religious, or strikingly modern, edgy girls visiting a warehouse with a plumbing problem.

“I’m not here to impress anyone. What inspires me are women’s movements, the way they walk, dance… It’s the client who gives the clothes their soul, not the other way around.  Clothes should always adapt to everyday life just like other objects. Couture is above all about savoir-faire,” the designer explained.  lebanese-born mr. kayrouz created his brand in 2009, and though several designers from that country exhibit their wares during couture week (including elie saab and the aforementioned mr. murad), his pieces alone are actually produced in france, in “an old theater in which ‘Waiting for Godot’ was created by Samuel Beckett,” the afp (trans.) informs us.

and, though no doubt for some, the quite elegance of simple shirtdresses, tailored shorts and trousers, crisp blazers, halter-necked frocks, summer sweaters, and prim scooped-neck tops don’t merit their notice the way the rest of the flashandbang couture does, i’d argue that whatever modernism his designs convey, offering up clean classic, wear-forever pieces is something the art of haute couture is supposed to stand for.  anyway, as the nyt nicely sums up, “(t)he designer played with volume, saying backstage that he wanted the clothing to ‘dance about the body.’ But if the stand-away-from-the-skin skirts seemed reminiscent of the work of Azzedine Alaïa, they still were well-executed and worked in perfect harmony with the rest of this graceful oeuvre.”

(watch a video with backstage/runway highlights here)

updated: with new images

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