Fashion Week

The Most Head-Turning Pieces From Couture Week Fall 2021

From candy cane tulle to toe shoes.

Couture season is upon us, bringing with it a plethora of hand-made gowns, coats, suiting, and more. It may not produce the most wearable garments, but it’s arguably the most exquisite of all Fashion Weeks.

While some people do shop from the shows, more just sit in awe, inspired by the forward-thinking trends and innovative designs on display. Each intricate creation you see floating down the runway is truly one-of-a-kind.

For the Fall/Winter 2021-2022 season, designers embraced the whimsy, the structured, and the bold. Dior showed tweed coats, mesh tops, and boulé skirts, while Chanel presented tiered ruffles, woven florals, and feathers alike. Balenciaga made its first ever entrance into the couture scene, though one might argue that their ready-to-wear has long since skirted the category all on its own. For a historic appearance on the calendar, Pyer Moss showed roller coats, folding chair dresses, and more looks paying homage to Black inventors. And Schiaparelli debuted shoes that looked like golden feet while Giambattista Valli paraded tulle confections for every princess fantasy.

And while the fashion itself is memorable enough, you can’t ignore the theatrical nature of each event. Dior was staged at the Rodin Museum in Paris, where Maria Grazia Chiuri tapped artist Eva Jospin to create a “Silk Chamber,” covering the walls in prints. Chanel featured their traditional bride at the finale, including a bouquet toss caught by InStyle editor-in-chief Laura Brown.

Ahead, find the top moments from Couture Fashion Week for Fall/Winter 2021-2022. Inspiration awaits.

Pyer Moss

Cindy Ord/WireImage/Getty Images

Kerby Jean-Raymond made history with his couture collection for Pyer Moss this season, as the first Black designer to present on the couture calendar in more than 150 years since the Chambre Syndicale’s inception.

Due to torrential rain, the show’s original date was postponed, but that didn’t stop him from showing a stellar collection a few days later in the bright sunshine. The venue? None other than the Irvington, New York estate of Sarah Breedlove (BKA Madame C.J. Walker), the world’s first female millionaire, Black or otherwise.

Each Pyer Moss couture creation was like walking art, with models dressed in tribute to Black inventors chosen from a list at the Library of Congress. Jean-Raymond was inspired by the mop invented by Thomas M. Stewart, the cell phone invented by Henry T. Sampson, the hot comb invented by Breedlove, and more.

The standout look was a wig and coat made out of hundreds of large plastic rollers, an homage to Soloman Harper, who invented them, and the many Black women who use them.

Fendi

Courtesy of Fendi

This season couture collection was designer Kim Jones’ second season for the fashion house, featuring models such as Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, and Amber Valletta. The collection was presented in video format, on a Roman theater set that was shot by director Luca Guadagnino and scored by Max Richter.

The clothing itself was an ethereal dream, crafted of pastel pink, gray, white, and nude. There were floor-grazing coats made of sheer embellished silk, gathered strapless dresses that seemed to flow down the models’ bodies like water, and thigh-high go-go boots that modernized it all.

Balenciaga

Courtesy of Balenciaga

This couture collection was a first for Balenciaga, as Creative Director Demna Gvasalia presented the design house’s debut show. To be fair, much of his career has been made on ready-to-wear collections that are crafted and shaped nearly like couture anyway.

But for his first official spot on the Couture calendar, Gvasalia has put his own, modern, spin on everything. Consisting largely of black suiting for the first half of the 63 looks, the latter pieces included oversized silk coats, capes, and robes alike.

What’s more, in a space that is largely dominated, if not exclusive to, women’s looks, Balenciaga’s first ever couture collection was designed for men and women alike.

Dior

Courtesy of Dior

Staged at the Rodin Museum in Paris, Maria Grazia Chiuri tapped artist Eva Jospin to create the “Silk Chamber,” covering the walls of the stark room in prints. Chiuri used a plethora of fabrics, perhaps to evoke the notion of the world returning to a more tactile feeling, versus a virtual one. The collection itself included tweeds, sheer silks, knits, and bouclés alike.

Schiaparelli

Courtesy of Schiaparelli

Schiaparelli’s collection was a true artistic vision, with everything from life-sized roses to metallic clouds constructed out of silk, leather, and more. Silhouettes were exaggerated, and embellishment was used with reckless abandon — right down to the shoes, which were all gold-tipped toes (quite literally). Is this the high-fashion version of flip flops? Questions that need answers.

Inventive footwear aside, to look at the latest Schiaparelli collection is to stand in a museum and gaze upon a new work of art — both individually as well as in its entirety.

Chanel

Kristy Sparow/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

This season’s couture collection for the house of Chanel was inspired largely by the costumes Coco herself would wear to parties in the 1930s. Think bustles, crinolines, and more statement-making silhouettes.

As such, nearly every look was exaggerated in some way or shape, be it through tiered ruffles, oversized shoulders, or the like. In a collection crafted of a mix-and-match selection of colored tweeds, woven florals, and feathers, Chanel is certainly showing the world how to dress for the parties you want, as you hopefully move on from quarantine for good.

Giambattista Valli

Giambattista Valli

Valli was a series of tulle confections that mesmerized individually and as a collective. To Vogue, the designer explained, “The past is very heavy and the future is very uncertain, so it’s about being open and free,” adding, “You make no exceptions.”

There were minis and maxis; silk that flowed in the wind and cut tulle layers that held their shape as if sprayed with hairspray. And, on the topic of hair, the direction was the bigger, the better, with many models actually walking the runway boasting a curly up-do of cotton candy pink locks that matched their dresses to perfection.