Spring 2012 Haute Couture: House of Worth's Referencing the Orient

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Photo: @couturenotebook

Photo: @couturenotebook

Photo: @couturenotebook

Photo: @couturenotebook

Giovanni Bedin delved into the House of Worth’s heritage to create an exotic capsule collection for S/S 2012.

The House of Worth was one of the first fashion houses at the end of the 19th century to pay attention to the new trend of “Japonisme” – the borrowing of Japanese motifs, principles and techniques – by Western artists that was sweeping Europe.

Charles Frederick Worth liked to incorporate various Japanese elements in his creations, embroidering Japanese-style motifs on Lyon silks and using asymmetrical placement of motifs on dresses.

Photo: @couturenotebook

Photo: @couturenotebook

According to Akiko Fukai, Chief Curator at the Kyoto Costume Institute, asymmetry, a characteristic of Japanese art and of kimono, was rare in Western textile or clothing design before Worth started to use it.

For his fifth collection for the House of Worth, creative director Giovanni Bedin found inspiration in a dark red velvet kimono coat designed in 1910 by Jean-Philippe Worth, the son of the founder, which is now in the Kyoto Costume Institute in Japan. The kimono coat had a loose-fitting style overlapping with a pulled-back collar and kimono-type sleeves that effectively expressed a western-style three-dimensional cutting while retaining a Japanese influence.

But for Bedin, this was just really the beginning of an idea, “I just let myself go, trying to naturally evolve. As you can see there is no kimono-like shape here, but the fan belongs to the oriental culture, so does the origami.” Worth Couture Summer 2012 returned to the Salons France-Ameriques and its elegant décor to present a capsule collection of eight pieces inspired by the Orient, using origami pleating, bamboo weaving patterns and pagoda roof-like shoulders.

Photo: @couturenotebook

Photo: @couturenotebook

“I wasn’t just looking at Japanese culture, but more at Asian culture. I just like some lines and I translated those for today,” Bedin said.

The young creator experimented with small pleated fans, which he uses to successfully contour the female body, and he decided to create mainly short skirt silhouettes to give the collection a very modern feel.

“It’s very easy to make long dresses that are very flattering to the body, but it becomes boring very rapidly, because it is obvious. These short dresses are more fun,” he said. Several of his dresses had strong armour-like shoulder lines, which seem inspired by shoulder protection worn by samurai.

Photo: @couturenotebook

Photo: @couturenotebook

The couturier’s love affair with Chantilly lace, fine sheer tulle and pleated organza continues, helping him to create highly delicate, yet structured clothes. “I always create for the same woman, one who is not afraid to play with fashion,” he said. Bedin said he selected a neutral palette of white and ivory to make all the intricate details of the hand-stitching standard out, such as the fine crystal minutiae of the flower embroidery. Red is used in the collection, bringing it together, symbolizing happiness and good luck as well as forming a link back to Worth’s original 1910 kimono coat that proved to be so inspirational.

Photo: @couturenotebook

Photo: @couturenotebook

As Published in Couture by Designaré – Vol 2 (April 2012)