Like sunlight refracted on water as a background to easy poolside lounging, the musical reflections crafting this season’s modernized summer jams include the Buena Vista Social Club revisited by Chan Chan (Vijay & Sofia Zlatko Edit) and the season’s hottest teaser, ‘Hunger of the Pine’ from the promising new Alt-J album. Meanwhile, Joe Goddard with ‘Other’ doesn’t disappoint with his melodic skills. Relax into summer, remixed.
It’s just after Haute Couture week in Paris, and an easy sense of summer begins to set in. South American music plays in the background at Ferdi, the bar and restaurant just off rue Saint-Honoré, owned by the sister of Maria Luisa Poumaillou. The order: two ‘piscines’, the perfectly Parisian summer drink of rosé with ice cubes. The meeting: two cosmopolites, Maria Luisa, legendary fashion entrepreneur, and Mauro Grimaldi, Vice President of ELIE SAAB.
Of Venezuelan origin yet living in Paris since she was seven, Maria Luisa is as Parisian as they come, a true insider force in French fashion. Ever since launching her multi-brand boutique on Rue Cambon in 1998, she remains at the crest of the new and the next with her sharp eye for talent, taste and style. She has launched the career of many designers, taking them on before anyone else, envisioning their potential before the fashion consensus. She is Fashion Editor of the Printemps Haussmann department store, where her famed eponymous boutique can be found on the second floor, which joins other growing ventures such as the launch of her own brand in the Asian market.
The Light of Now catches up with Maria Luisa and Mauro on the occasion of their crossing paths in the fashion capital, as they chat about the spirit of Paris, the season’s collections, a dash of the past and a splash of industry gossip.
Mauro: A certain Parisian style, chic and cosmopolitan, is often represented by Parisians-by-adoption. I’m thinking of writers, couturiers, galerists and notably you.
Maria Luisa: Paris is largely made up of people who are not Parisian by origin. Always. It’s a dream for a foreigner. It’s the summit of elegance. The summit of a certain art de vivre, undeniably. The only city with this type of natural elegance is Paris.
I think Paris serves as a cultural haven. It has always welcomed foreigners who would like to show their work here. France is in love, in some way, with talent. Its part of liberty, equality, fraternity – and talent. They adore it. I think France has a greater, faster recognition for talent than anywhere else in the world. Paris is also the most luxurious city in the world by all that it refuses, and by the manner in which we can live and express ourselves here.
Mauro: Can you tell us a story about your Paris?
Maria Luisa: As a child, I saw all the Haute Couture defilés of Yves Saint Laurent. There isn’t one that I missed, basically. My mother was an haute couture client and, at the time, everyone asked for their places at certain times…mother always chose the days when we didn’t have class, so Wednesday afternoons. My mother thought that it was part of one’s education, and she wasn’t wrong, it helped me a lot more than my studies!
Mauro: So she built your career during these afternoons.
Maria Luisa: She made a career for me without me knowing it. Me, in my uniform. In this way, I saw all the defilés. Outside of one or two pieces, each model was made for a woman that the designer had in mind, a woman that he knew would wear it.
Mauro: And, the recent collections?
Maria Luisa: I was impressed by the realism of the ELIE SAAB defilé. I had the impression of seeing 50 clients walk down the catwalk. It’s reality - that’s the base of your profession. ELIE SAAB gives us a gift with his ready-to-wear, as a piece of exactingness for everyday life. I remain persuaded that if you take any of the 50 dresses, you wear it to a soirée, and it will be the most beautiful dress there. Without a doubt, the prettiest dress. It will be the most flattering, which is really at the service of women who want a dream-like moment, a moment when she feels sublime.
Mauro: Elie always thinks of the woman who will wear his dresses.
Maria Luisa: On top of that he has a very nice hand. I think the extraordinary quality that Elie has is his sense of color. He is a magnificent colorist. Especially the most beautiful nude colors are his.
Mauro: When we ask Elie why he is driven, from such a young age, to do what he does, he always says that he likes to think that a woman who enters his studio leaves even more beautiful.
Maria Luisa: In a similar sense, I always thought that a woman who entered into my boutique, if we captured her interest – and many have stayed faithful for a very long time –it’s because when they left chez moi, they left even more beautiful than when they came in.
To view the latest ELIE SAAB selections by Maria Luisa visit the Maria Luisa boutique at Printemps: www.marialuisa.fr/paris-printemps-haussmann
Discover the sounds behind the ELIE SAAB Autumn Winter 2014-2015 haute couture collection, ‘Palais des Lumières’. Moments and impressions are captured backstage – where beauty is harmonized in a spirit of calm anticipation around the orchestration of Haute Couture creations.
From the grandeur of a Parisian interior to the intimacy of a finely embroidered décolleté, a dream-like 'Palais des Lumières’ inspires the ELIE SAAB Autumn Winter 2014-2015 haute couture collection. Reflections of faceted crystal play with light, as an echo to the intricate embellishment and lustrous surface of pearls, in a kaleidoscope of illuminated delicacy.
Watch the video of the Haute Couture Autumn Winter 2014-2015 Collection exclusively on The Light of Now.
As the third part in a series highlighting the subtleties and seduction of each essence within ELIE SAAB Le Parfum, The Light of Now looks to green almond – the unusually sophisticated base note of ELIE SAAB’s latest fragrance, L’Eau Couture.
Green almond is the perfect expression of contemporary. Light, fresh and deliciously tart with an almost milky sweetness, the scent of young almond is addictive.
Perfumers know that a natural essence of green almond cannot be extracted from the light green fuzzy outer hull, the shell and the teardrop-shaped almond fruit inside. It must be crafted with the sophistication of modern perfumery. “The extract of green almond does not exist in perfumery,” explains French perfumer Francis Kurkdjian."We isolate the structure, capture and reproduce a scent that is characteristic of green almond."
While a natural essence could be likened to the art of painting, certain molecules used in modern perfumery could be likened to photography. Francis Kurkdjian explains: "Perfumery and photography are contemporary. They are two expressions created by modern man roughly at the same time – photography with the Daguerreotype and perfumery with the first synthetic molecule created in France in 1903."
There is nothing more modern than photography, a flash of urbanity, and a contemporary interpretation of light. L’Eau Couture reflects this modernity in its water-green crystalline liquid, recalling the green almond accord at the perfume’s base, the essence of fresh sophistication now.
The grandeur of a Parisian palace, the iridescent surface of pearls, and the exceptional craftsmanship only possible in haute couture infuse the ELIE SAAB Autumn Winter 2014-2015 haute couture collection with an incandescent beauty.
Paris, the city of light, influences the collection through its ethereal interiors. Illuminated chandeliers lift the air of anticipation for a palatial soirée, crystallized in details such as fragile tulle and lace that are tremblante with sequins and fine thread, surfaces shimmering with embroidery.
Upon gossamer evening gowns and coquettish dresses, dazzling masterpieces of intricate embellishment recall the intoxicating mix of crystals dangling, conversation sparkling and champagne bubbles rising. Intensity, clarity and warmth come through in hues of crimson, midnight indigo, blue glacier and antiqued rosé like the romance of a Parisian early evening sky.
Poetic floral embroidery recalls the arabesques of stately murals, while three-dimensional blooms upon accessories echo the elaborate mouldings in the corners of stately, high ceilings. The textural, richly colored fur stoles suggest plush textiles and tapestries that contrast the classical tone.
A majestic wedding gown comes forth from the suspended chandeliers, as a backdrop for its unfurling volumes, in a regal finish to this tribute to the beauty of Paris illuminated by a brilliant lustre, as if in a dream.
In light of Haute Couture fashion week in Paris, The Light of Now spotlights the exclusive world that represents the height of fashion. What is Haute Couture, and why does it evoke the exceptional?
The draping of blouses in the haute couture atelier of Charles Frederick Worth. Paris, 1907. © Jacques Boyer / Roger-Viollet.
While ready-to-wear fashion descends on catwalks in cities across the globe, Haute Couture claims a separate presentation schedule shown exclusively in Paris.
The institution of Haute Couture was born here, in the City of Lights, as an expression of the rich textile industry in France and the flourish of culture under Napoléon III. Considered the 'father of Haute Couture', Charles Frederick Worth founded the first Haute Couture house in Paris in 1856.
Since the institution's inception, 'La Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture' oversees the Haute Couture collection calendar. In 1945, the right to use the name 'Haute Couture' became legally protected under the French Ministry of Industry.
Rites of Entry
A new member must present collections for at least four seasons as a membre invité on the official Haute Couture schedule, must be sponsored by a current member, and be elected by a committee within the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. Membership is reviewed annually.
A minimum of 20 'petite mains', or skilled artisans, must work in the house's own design studio; one dress can require over seven hundred hours of work. Sewing machines and irons may be used for primary seams, yet fastenings, pleats and embroidery must be done by hand. Two collections a year, presented in Paris, each contains at least 25 looks for evening and day in the finest materials.
Haute couture salon of Charles Frederick Worth, from 'Les Createurs de la Mode', 1910.
Interior view of the main showroom of French couturière Louise Chéruit in 1910.
The Haute Couture Calendar
Listed on the schedule of Haute Couture collections are 15 houses, as well as five membres correspondants. These are companies whose head office is not based in Paris yet they implement the expertise of Couture.
Couturier Elie Saab was the third membre correspondant to be admitted by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in 2006. Today, the other membres correspondants consist of the Italian houses of Armani, Valentino, Versace and the Dutch house of Viktor & Rolf.
The houses practicing today continue to preserve the legacy of this important craft, in the never-ending pursuit of the exquisite – from an idea, to fit, to final and stunning effect.
View the upcoming schedule of the Autumn Winter 2014-2015 Haute Couture presentations in Paris taking place between July 6 and July 11, 2014.
Summer solstice brings sunlight high, the days long and the music outside. Shining this season is Saint Claude, our new favorite French singer with that little something special. A remix of 'Let Me Down Gently' from Le Roux's second comeback album is the perfect poolside hymn. But it is 'Hurry On Now', by French producer FKJ that captures the perfect summer vibe.