Fashion Insider: Kristine Kilty at the Paris Haute Couture

Words by
Kristine Kilty

30th January 2023

Fashion Creative Director Kristine Kilty works exclusively with haute couture when dressing her clients. Her view on the catwalk collections held in Paris last week comes with a close eye on workmanship, artistry and, ultimately usefulness to the client whether its for the Oscars or office. So what did she make of her week in Paris at the couture, and what will she be recommending to her clients, and why?

Kristine Kilty is a fine artist turned designer who, at the encouragement of Vivienne Westwood became a stylist to the A-list, and made it her career. With clients including Gwen Stefani, Naomie Harris and Lewis Hamilton, it follows that Paris Haute Couture week is her happy place.

“I have such an admiration for the designers who create haute couture, because I understand the work and detail that goes into it.” says Kristine.

Kristine shares her top five shows of the week, her favourite looks,  and finally, who should wear them, exclusively for SPHERE.

Kristine Kilty
Kristine Kilty
Chanel Haute Couture
Chanel Haute Couture
A knee-length pleated dress with long puff sleeves is covered with rows of navy sequins glinting beneath a dazzling trompe l'oeil canine motif

"The setting for Chanel was a huge space dotted with eleven monumental wooden sculptures created by artist Xavier Veilhan, who was invited by Chanel's designer Virginie Viard to interpret the animals found in the decor of the apartment belonging to Gabrielle Chanel, at 31 Rue Cambon.

As the show began models emerged from the sculptures, creating a theatrical and beautiful moment for the collection, which showed the Chanel suit recast in the style of majorette girls, with top hats, bow ties, white gloves and laced ankle boots. When you looked closely you could see kittens, corgis, rabbits, dogs and swallows woven into the tweeds. For me, the highlights were these two dresses, the metallic gilded tweeds and fine beadwork really spoke to a Chanel couture customer who wants to wear it both for their working and social life.

I have clients in Hong Kong, Chanel Couture’s biggest market in the world, and women there want to wear couture to the office. So, it’s positive to see designers like Virginie Viard cater to them, and, of course, for couture to be viewed not just as a place to get a big gown.  

The person I would most like to see dressed in this collection, is actor Anya Taylor-Joy."

Chanel Haute Couture
A blouse and skirt ensemble in hand-painted gold lamé is layered beneath a camisole top embroidered with scales of pink, silver and midnight blue sequins
Valentino Club Couture
Mustard-coloured jacket and shorts embroidered with feathers. Pink gazar top. Mustard-coloured jersey bra, Valentino Club Couture

"For Valentino we were taken to Pont Alexandre III in the heart of Paris, and invited through a dingy doorway under the bridge into an old nightclub venue. Perfectly fitting, because the show was inspired by the nightlife and style of 1980s London taken to new levels with haute couture workmanship.

It was wall-to-wall looks embellished with rhinestones, intricate embroideries, and patterns celebrating the melding of club culture with the universe of couture shown in hot pinks, vivid yellow and sparkle for days.  

This show was one of the few at couture that featured both men’s and women’s clothing on the catwalk: girls wore suiting, guys wore sequins. The looks were very playful, with giant bows, micro skirts paired with billowing capes, body exposure, and lots of sparkle and disco vibes but also grungy and atmospheric. Definitely a party collection, created to the highest standards. I would love to see Billie Porter and Kylie Minogue in this collection."

Valentino Club Couture
Pale grey leather-satin coat embroidered with all over sequins and rhinestones. White cotton poplin shirt. Black wool shorts, Valentino Club Couture.
Schiaparelli Haute Couture
Extreme hourglass quilted coat in ecru silk satin embellished with an exaggerated collar and full lace-up back, by Daniel Roseberry for Schiaparelli Haute Couture

"The Schiaparelli show was inspired by Dante’s Inferno, and received global attention for the use of the fake animal heads. While this worked with the Dante theme, it was mostly lost in translation across social media, and I wasn't comfortable seeing the reference to trophy hunting. 

Beyond the faux fur, this was a very beautiful collection, the element of Schiaparelli’s signature surrealism brought into the tailoring was sublime in its execution. I loved the exaggerated shoulders, oversized lapels, and nipped in waists.

When I photographed this collection at the weekend for the South China Morning Post newspaper, the garments were sent to me with hip pads which go underneath the trouser to really exaggerate the shape of the hips, and create that tiny waist silhouette.

My favourite piece is the quilted puffer in ecru silk satin. Its clean yet has major impact. Rihanna would look incredible in this."

Schiaparelli Haute Couture
It's all in the fine detail: back view of the showstopping coat by Daniel Roseberry for Schiaparelli Haute Couture
Giambattista Valli 
© Giambattista Valli
"Rose Bloom" printed silk muslin draped dress by Giambattista Valli

"Giambattista Valli is one of my favourite designers to work with and shoot. I love the dreaminess and the total escapism of his collections. His work is otherworldly; for me it's art.

As soon as the first look came down the catwalk I thought yes - send me the collection! I love that he embraces huge proportions, extravagant volumes and, for this collection, pretty ice cream pastel pinks and oranges. The dresses were like giant cupcakes.

This show played straight to red carpet events. While the proportions were inflated  - even the earrings - there was plenty of criss-cross bodice detailing to slim the body. 

I can see this collection translating to the Met Gala because the proportions are huge and these dresses can hold their own at an event with a enormous red carpet moment. I used one of these gowns in a shoot at the weekend, and while most couture dresses are heavy, these silk muslin dresses are light as a feather. I’d love to see Helena Bonham Carter in one of these dresses."

© Giambattista Valli
"Rose Obsession" printed silk muslin draped dress with giant bows by Giambattista Valli
© Giambattista Valli
All the looks were accessorised with exaggerated earrings
Armani Privé
Armani Privé Look 30
The Armani Privé show was inspired by Harlequins

"I adored this Armani Privé show. We entered the show through a very ornate archway and were led through a lamp lit trail before reaching a very glamorous, opulent space.

The chequered runway gave away the Harlequin theme. I usually think of Harlequin patterns as being bright and garish but Giorgio Armani opted for light gold, pale green, sky blue, and soft pink. The element of this collection that really captured my attention, though, was his play on light.

This may not come across in the imagery, but every single model who came down the runway sparkled – the clothes caught the light in the most magical way, showcasing exquisite beadwork from every angle.  Any woman wearing a piece from this collection, no matter what it is, will be the centre of attention because the dresses glow like an Instagram filter.

What really worked were the simple shapes with plunging necklines paired with the intricate beading details and crystal patchworks - subtle, elegant and effective.

For me this was a definite red carpet awards show-stopper collection, if all eyes are going to be on you, wear Armani. I’m expecting to see these dresses at the Oscars, I’m sure Cate Blanchett will be considering these already."


Armani Privé Look 60
The Armani Privé show was wall to wall sparkle