It’s been some time since I’ve used Guipure lace, the focal point of Henriette. Guipure was invented in France in the mid-19th century, so it’s historically appropriate for Spring. In creating this collection, I was very inspired by the turn-of-the-century ballet and the glitter of the Paris Opera, and especially the great paintings of dancers by Degas. His eye for the delicate transparencies and tonalities of the young women’s costumes, and his passion for movement and spectacle, gave me some of the themes for this season’s designs.
Guipure is a very unique type of lace, and it’s so much denser than most laces—in fact, it almost resembles linen—and so it demands a very delicate arrangement to keep it from looking too heavy or too old-fashioned. But this season, I felt we came up with just the right pattern for it. When you have the proportions right, it’s fantastic, and I love how bold and dense the flower imagery becomes, here. It’s quite modern.
Another aspect of this dress, which is very artfully done, is how it engages with a traditional, turn-of-the-century idea of the bride as modest and blushing. You’ll notice something here that stands out in my collections: a high neck! The high-neck and cap-sleeves combination is a very formal, very traditionalist look, which you don’t see too often these days. That’s why I chose to bring it back!
This more traditional top is counterbalanced by a very flouncy, organic skirt. I used horsehair to frame all of these swirling, confection-like layers of honeycomb tulle, to pump them up with that weightless volume. It’s the perfect contrast to the bodice: I always like to play with that tension between two different aesthetics, something voluptuous and organic meeting up with something else that’s refined and elegant.
There’s an edginess to appearing in something that’s so unabashedly traditional: when you filter this classic “belle epoque” Parisian look, and this tradition of modesty through a very modern aesthetic, it’s striking, and it’s distinctive. It’s my way of bringing the 21st century around to meet the end of the 19th, and it’s the energy and inspiration from that meeting that fuels so much of this Spring collection.