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The Return of Dramatic Couture

Lily Miro

Mar 22, 2024

The Return of Dramatic Couture

Drama is in. In the age of 2024, unique authenticity has been marked as a definite fashion trend. Seen by both high-end designers and local businesses alike, it's clear that clothing is the truest form of self-expression. And with this self-expression comes drama.

We are seeing grandiose fur coats covering the shoulders of 20-somethings on their way out to dinner. We see chunky mixed metals stacked on the necks, ears, and wrists of the everyday person. And, of course, we see Maison Margiela’s full rubber gown with Elizabethan-inspired hair and glass skin.

Designers are embracing theatricality and intricate craftsmanship, creating a visual feast that captivates audiences worldwide. This return to dramatic couture represents a shift in the fashion landscape as designers seek to redefine luxury, self-expression, and the artistry of clothing.

With Paris Fashion Week occurring last fall, there are a number of designers experimenting with dramatic couture that are worth highlighting. Noticeably, one of the most talked about shows is Maison Margiela’s spring 2024 collection. John Galiano, the Creative Director of Fashion at Maison Margiela, created a spectacle that was more than just a fashion show– it was a performance. Located under the Pont d’Alexandre III after dark, next to the Seine, Galiano mimicked scenes from Paris’ underground. Inspired by Brassai’s 1920s and ’30s portraits of the night-time underbelly of Paris’s clubs and streets, Galiano took drama to a new level, showcasing corsetry, padded hips, teased hair, doll-like skin, and seductive sheer and lace dresses. Galiano created a spectacle that explored the sultry, dirty, and daring parts of old Paris after dark.

According to Vogue, Galiano’s show for Margiela “made such an all-out stand for the value of extreme creativity” and “spoke with the authenticity of his voice”. The show culminated with Gwendoline Christie swaying, strutting, and almost floating down the dimly lit runway in a full rubber gown - corset, glass skin, chiffon and all. The show was so much more than just the looks. The music, the venue, and the individualized walks contributed to the beauty of the spring 2024 collection.

In addition to Galiano’s sensational show for Margiela, Robert Wun, a Hong Kong-born London-based fashion designer, put on a beautiful show for his spring collection. Inspired by horror media, Wun’s designs centered around tight, structured pieces and wide-brimmed hats.
Wun is known for featuring taboo aspects within his couture, such as knives and scorched fabric. Titled “For Love”, his collection drew inspiration from the wardrobes of infamous films and TV shows American Horror Story and Beetlejuice. He defined the intersection between macabre and couture with a full dominatrix look consisting of leather-like material, long black fingernails, vampire sleeves, and a wedding gown covered in red jewels, mimicking freshly drawn blood. His pieces are elegant at first glance, yet each contains an element of darkness that is unlike any other design.

With the models walking in a background of bright red, Wun is certainly making a statement through both bright and muted shades of red. The show marked a decade since Wun had started his brand, and thus, his horror-inspired designs served as a retrospective. Wun’s designs are the kind that make you do a double take. They tie beauty and gore together in the most unique and unexpected way, and Robert Wun is surely a name to remember.

The resurgence of dramatic couture in the fashion industry has not only been a creative
renaissance but has also provided intriguing business insights. Designers and luxury fashion houses, capitalizing on the renewed interest in opulence and intricate craftsmanship have seen a notable increase in brand visibility and desirability. The exclusivity associated with dramatic couture has allowed for premium pricing strategies, catering to a discerning clientele willing to invest in one-of-a-kind statement pieces. Collaborations with skilled artisans and the emphasis on handmade detailing have elevated the perceived value of these couture creations and aligned with the growing consumer demand for sustainable and timeless fashion.

From the marketing appeal to the emphasis on self-expression, it is clearer than ever that the return of dramatic couture underscores the enduring appeal of craftsmanship, exclusivity, and storytelling in the ever-evolving landscape of the fashion market.

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