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Alexis Mabille FALL 2020 COUTURE

If we have come to accept that this couture week is playing out online in the absence of shows, showroom visits are still taking place when possible. And there’s no question the difference this makes.


During confinement in Paris, Alexis Mabille and his team were able to produce 26 creations, which were on display in his Galerie Vivienne space ahead of his video reveal today. An up-close view of the embroideries that nodded to the abstract motifs of tapestry artist Jean Lurçat was evidence of the handwork that never quite translates through a screen.

Mabille noted how he wanted to convey “Attitude” (yes, with a capital A) throughout this lineup—signifying both the personality of the dresses in addition to his outlook. About the former: “Things didn’t need to relate to each other,” he said. “It’s more like a conversation between different women.” As someone who loves themed collections, Mabille seemed to finally realize they can feel too forced. Instead, the variation felt more conducive to the spectrum of his clients: evening dresses that delivered high drama through constructed silhouettes along with stylized caftans in premium stretch jersey. “It’s about coolitude and comfort,” he explained.


His other expression of Attitude had to do with staying positive, given both the state of the world and the constraints this imposed upon him. Faced with the same fabric ordering challenges as other houses these past few months, Mabille sourced from his own supply and let this inform the designs rather than developing everything from sketches. He had all the decorations—the passementerie buttons, beads, and dimensional flowers that were actually dyed feathers—on hand too. Unlike some designers who have been experimenting for several seasons with a more resourceful approach to couture, Mabille entered into this way of thinking and working inadvertently. It will be interesting to see whether he opts to explore this further in future collections.

In the meantime, clients will likely appreciate this season’s vivid color statement—whether a swingy backward blazer dress in a saturated shade of pink or a gown with a precisely scalloped neckline in emerald green. A ball gown with winglike shoulder detailing looked particularly triumphant in deep purple.

And yet, at a moment when galas and red carpets don’t appear to be resuming anytime soon, one wonders where women will be wearing these looks. Mabille suggested that clients at the couture level will always have a desire to dress up. Fair enough. The striped and tasseled blouse shown with lace-encrusted pants could be worn to host a dinner party for those who aren’t in full lockdown. For Mabille, keeping calm and carrying on was paramount. “I didn’t want to fall into darkness,” he said. “Even if things were complicated, I had a great team and we continue to have clients who stay loyal to us.”

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