In December the Chambre Syndicale awarded Alexandre Vauthier the official haute couture appellation. For a designer, acceptance into what’s arguably the most elite of all fashion circles ranks right up there with a royal endorsement—in Vauthier’s case, of the pop-culture variety. Beyoncé, Kim K., Rihanna, and Heidi Klum remain among the designer’s steady patronesses, and one can confidently assume he designs with them in mind.
But Vauthier also seemed determined to prove that his new status was rightly earned. To that effect, he focused on material manipulation: An eel-skin shirtdress and crocodile flounced skirt do not appear effortlessly constructed without substantial effort. Grater-size perforations were hand-cut into pony; this, too, must have been insanely labor-intensive. In constant pursuit of the bombshell ideal, Vauthier mapped erogenous zones as islands of exposed hip bone and sheer inserts of thigh. The upshot of such sexiness: It distracts from the workmanship. And notwithstanding a few looks—the side-slit pants, a diva cape, and an overworked dress or two—this was his most finessed collection yet.
Even without the foggy emerald atmosphere and whirling Philip Glass score, Vauthier broadcasted a particular state of unease with necklaces and belts that mimicked rehabilitation braces. Adequately padded and luxuriously embellished, these accessories could have been darkly humorous à la David Cronenberg had the overall mood been more irreverent; it’s not every day that a femme fatale suffers from whiplash (although good posture is always a plus). Vauthier revealed that the collection took shape from a desire to convey protection. And if one believes that crystals ward off negative energy, the Maison Lesage-embroidered stones colonizing a gown or tank dress should be as good as armor. An alternate reading is that these pieces are destined for Vauthier’s life-size lucky charms. Backstage he asked Lindsey Wixson, a Vauthier regular, for her thoughts on wearing the bejeweled knickers. Her reply: “They’re for Beyoncé!”