Taking a noteworthy couture outing and tweaking it for ready-to-wear is pure common sense. What’s surprising with Alexandre Vauthier, however, is how neatly the fall collection echoed the untold orders of magnitude and more expensive numbers shown on the couture runway just five weeks before. In most instances, one would need to be told where the trick is—the clipped-on diamond studs; the cut of a rhodoid sequin; the calibration of a pouf; a bright orange tulle skirt or a sunset-hued iridescent bodice; or a black sequined pant now worked with a knitted base. On the racks, those pieces looked like the originals.
Which is probably why Vauthier’s phone pings with requests even during a morning appointment in the middle of PFW: The circus is on, after all. Even so, the designer has reached a point in his life and career where he doesn’t feel the need to step into the ring. “A red carpet should make people dream; it’s not just for amusement,” he said over coffee, turning his phone facedown.
Central to the process are relationships forged way back, notably while working with Thierry Mugler. A ready-to-wear version of the dress with the diamond-shaped rhodoid sequins, for example, was still produced in collaboration with Lesage. A pouf might have been in silk and polyester, but the visual impact remained. “What makes fashion modern is taking historic savoir faire and making it into something contemporary,” the designer said. It’s all in the paradox, in other words. Simply tricking out a sweatshirt will never make the grade.
That said, Vauthier did push the cursor a bit for fall, filling out a high-octane story of orange, fuchsia, acid yellow, bottle green, and silver with “Prince” purple. (“We had to have a color to bring it all together,” he offered.) A dress laden with crystal chains and flowers didn’t make it to the couture runway but resurfaced here as a ’60s shift and miniskirt. An Art Deco–inspired silver dress with modified batwing sleeves looked like a winner. Faux-casual pieces, like crystal-studded velvet hoodies, embellished jeans, and a tuxedo jacket spliced together with a hoodie—and above all those Grace Jones–inspired hooded numbers—will be catnip to Vauthier’s base. So, too, will a burgeoning line of accessories, from thick diamanté cuffs and clutches to sculptural “crushed” boots in silver leather.