Franck Sorbier catwalk show report S/S 2016 for Haute Couture
This was not just clothing, this was performance art. Dancers swirled to a hypnotic drum beat and intoxicating, wavering strings, swathed in golden tulle, lame and shot silk. Franck Sorbier is known for his theatrical catwalk performances, and his SS16 couture show was no exception.
Taking its inspiration from Rodin’s watercolours of the Khymer dancers, The King and I, an exhibition on 2,000 years of Asian theatre (at the Guimet Museum of Asian art, where the show was held), and an ancient legend about a shepherd falling in love with a star, it presents an exotic, romantic fairy-tale
Sorbier’s presentation, named Celestial Lovers, reworks the age-old story of a princess and a pauper, using a variety of styles to show the theme’s universality. By starting with earthy ochres and ruffled, ragged dresses, made of a patchwork of colours and reminiscent of Raquel Walsh’s famous bikini, he shows that this love story is older than civilisation.
Moving on to a stunning prom dress in heavy, golden brocade, with a structured bodice, full, draped skirt and delicate tasselling, he shows the same story in Medieval Europe. Other dresses explore the same theme during the 17th century (an embroidered silver bodice and flowing train), Imperial China (a one-shoulder gown, with pleated silk covered with Chinese calligraphy and watercolours) and eventually fairies.
The collection was increasingly inspired by nature as it progressed, as though sprites had fashioned clothes from autumn leaves. This was particularly noticeable in the final piece, a wedding dress made of metallic guipure lace and covered in golden leaves, combined with shoes (the only ones in the show, the rest of the dancers performed barefoot) which also seemed to be made of foliage. Whilst the rest of the female dancers’ hair was plaited and pulled into a tall topknot, the bride wore a large donut bun for an elfin, Tinkerbell effect.
Although accompanying the female dancers, the men acted as accessories, wearing tight leggings decorated with colour “dripping” (like splattered paint) to match their partners’ dress. They seemed absolutely in awe of the women, moving in balanced harmony and lifting them so that the dresses’ layers could move effortlessly. Margaux Delarbre, the chief hairstylist, described them as “the fauns that dance around the fairies.”
Franck Sorbier presented a collection based on the freedom to love and a timeless story, a theme that he says “touches the whole world at the same time.”