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Collars, Neon and Androgyny: Did Haute Couture Week Take Us Back to 2012?

by Rebecca McPhillips

This Thursday (26th January) marked the end of Haute Couture week in Paris. With shows by Fashion's most cherished designers, the week featured also major celebrity appearances from the likes of Kylie Jenner, Timothee Chalamet, Anne Hathaway, Doja Cat and many more which created an increase in fashion buzz on social media. 

Each garment displayed during the infamous week are hand made from start to finish with meticulous attention to detail, so it’s no surprise that the cost of these items begin anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 depending on the piece. 

While it seems like the average person without the budget for these items need not pay attention, the trends on display actually play a vital role in presenting the current affairs of that year - from economic to social issues. Trends seen in each show are enormously significant as they eventually trickle down into high-street fashion. We all remember the monologue from Miranda Priestley on cerulean blue, right?

We’ve kept an eye on the key designers on display over the last week; so here’s a rundown of our top six shows. 


Main themes: Power and Regality, Monochrome, Gold, Big Cats, Feathers, Tall Structures.

Arguably the most attention-dominating show was by Schiaparelli, who ironically opened the week. Notable looks included the crystal-studded art piece modelled by Doja cat on Monday. With the help of Pat McGrath and her team, 30,000 red crystals were stuck to the singer who also had to be painted red and layered with glitter during the five hours of show prep. 

This powerhouse collection was so incredibly regal. ‘Simple’ designs were elevated by the use of tall, heavily structured, straight busts, asymmetrical features, and… the use of faux taxidermy.


The unmissable and most distinctive quality in Schiaparelli’s collection this week was the use of animals draped across items of clothing. 

We have all seen the lion dress, as worn by Kylie Jenner, but there were three dresses which followed the big cat theme on this runway: the lion, the leopard, and the black wolf (technically a canine). All three have sparked a lot of debate around animal welfare which has dominated social media, with some saying that it's just a ‘step too far’ in the current climate. 

Nevertheless, it’s undeniably a strong statement- and that’s what haute couture is all about. 

Another animalistic detail we noted was the use of snakes draped across the necklines of blazers (which has been seen in Schiaparelli’s collections before), the iconic gold plated human corset, and a peacock feather bust sitting on top of a simple brown set of trousers. 


Main themes: Classic Look, A-line Silhouettes, Embroidery, Bowties, Short Skirts.

In an interesting artistic display, Chanel’s set design took most of the focus. During the show, models were all pushed into and emerged from ‘trojan horse’ type structures this year, with the final look (a breathtaking short bridal look) being pushed out in a wooden elephant after all the other models had left the runway. 

Chanel’s collection was a lot more classic than many of the other designers listed in this piece. The colour palette was relatively muted with a number of floral materials making an appearance. Thick A-line structures were also very notable, giving the collection a distinctly vintage feel with multiple nods to 40’s and 60’s fashion. 

It may be a lot clearer to see from this collection what influence haute couture will have on everyday wear over the next year. My prediction is that we will see more embroidery and bows within our looks, making details like this reign over choices of accessories like jewellery and handbags. 

Some fashion experts may recoil at my next observation, but a fair few garments (notably the lilac floor-length dress) were giving strong Bridgerton vibes. This collection has made me wonder if fashion is likely to take a step back this year… a couple of centuries back. 


Main themes: Neon Accents, Tutu’s and Peplum, Shoulder Pads, Cinched Waists, Jumpsuits. 

I LOVED this display. For me, it was just so much fun. The collection consisted of many silhouettes - notably, there were a large number of jumpsuits taking up the runway. Alexandre Vauthier will most definitely be having an impact on streetwear looks to come.

Strong contrasts between the largely black colour scheme and the pops of bright green and pink grabbed my attention. Being on a strict neon palette, aside from the use of black, was incredibly reminiscent of the trends we saw in the late 2000s/ early 2000s. Pair that with the vast presence of tutu’s across the dresses and I’m wondering if we are about to see a new twist on 2012 trends. Peplum… are you coming back? 

Some favourites include a black dress with an asymmetrical finish that gives us a peek of the orange interior and sparkly boots, and an orange disco catsuit that was paired with a dramatically oversized black coat. 


Main themes: Defying Convention, Femininity

Viktor&Rolf’s collection was, until recently, only available to view on the Haute Couture site by invitation only, but the exclusivity of the event hasn’t stopped the internet from gawking over the innovation of these gowns - if anything, it's got our interest more. 

We are of course talking about the notorious upside-down, front-to-back, forward-facing, horizontal, open and externally worn gowns that defy all expectations.

Other than the outlandish concept, something notable? Each dress took on a pastel tone and princess style. 

The designer described the collection as invoking a sense of surrealism, and I concur. All dresses appeared to float in some way, all aside from one of the final looks; a classically worn black and cream layered ruffled dress. 

A theme so marvellously original and outlandish, it’s enough to get anyone thinking. That’s art. 



Main themes: Androgyny, Futuristism, Etherealism, Metallic, Contrast between Domination and Submission. 

Jean Paul Gaultier’s collection was futuristic and infused with androgyny. It makes sense why Timothee Chalamet is so obsessed with Haider Ackermann.

The collection was somehow both diverse and incredibly uniform. The designs fit into categories which contrast each other greatly, dominating pieces like metallic bristled jackets were juxtaposed with immaculately tailored dresses and jumpsuits designed to drape on the models in a very particular and submissive ‘slouch’.

Sleek, high-neck black gowns were contrasted with a white, almost-scaled jumpsuit, overlain with a cape which covered the models head like a bonnet. Was it a bridal look, or just white? 

Striking, in any case. 

Stand-out looks included a lilac wrap dress and a circular blue gown which thinned out towards the bottom. 


Main themes: Pink, More Pink, Satin, Bows, Hyperfemeninity, Colourful Tights, Neck Collars, Polka Dots.

Valentino’s collection spoke to the child inside of me. What a delight to see so many pinks and reds on the runway. Paired with the use of colourful tights (which made me so excited after Alexander Vauthier’s collection), bows and polka dots- what’s more to love?

What stood out to me across this particular collection was the repeated use of ruff neck collars. Now that’s a trend we haven't seen much in a VERY long time. Can we expect to see that make somewhat of a comeback? 

Even more nods to victorian fashion were seen across the gowns, namely the deep blue ruffled number cinched in with a cream bow at the waist. 

The collection of red dresses stood out most to me, with the low waist cut-out finishes and sturdily built structures this collection definitely stuck to the retro themes on show throughout the week. 

With androgynous silhouettes paired with discussions of femininity, polka dots, collars, bows and neons all on show we’re left asking - is 2012 fashion already on its way back?

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