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From basic hair to dirty-stop-out chic: summer style lessons from couture

Emily Blunt at the Dior show, haute couture AW15. Photograph: Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/WireImage

A white dress is this summer’s alpha frock

That moment when the dress on the catwalk is exactly what every woman in the room wishes she was wearing: that was what happened at Dior’s Paris couture show, when the very first look was a white silk chiffon maxidress, long-sleeved but open at the back, ethereal but simply styled (above). It was well over 30C, the audience were melting, and every one of them wanted that dress. The white dresses at Dior had fingertip-length bell sleeves, deep pockets and simple T-shirt necklines that steered them clear of wedding-dress territory. A white dress ticks every box this summer: it’s a bit nu-Victoriana, but it’s also a bit Karlie Kloss on the red carpet at Cannes. (Emily Blunt, star front-row guest at Dior on Monday, was dressed in white, with checked pumps.) White trumps every other colour when the sun shines, and yet the effect is effortless. It looks angelic worn with tan gladiator sandals on city streets, and then it’s all rustic charm on the beach with a straw hat. What do you mean you haven’t got one?

Nightlife is back in vogue

Kate Moss attends the Miu Miu pop-up club launch of their fragrance at the Palais d’Iena on 4 July 2015. Photograph: Dominique Charriau

Sorry, Gisele: sunrise beach yoga is so last summer. This week’s haute couture shows were all about going out after dark. At Chanel, the cafe society ladies of the last pret-a-porter show were replaced by croupiers and gamblers at a casino, the ultimate after-hours haunt. (Dress code: sharp bobs, evening coats, sheer stockings and exposed backs.) On Saturday night, Miu Miu celebrated the launch of their fragrance with a pop-up club inside the Palais d’Iena, complete with neon signs and that ultimate late-night icon Kate Moss. The “Club Miu Miu” slogan T-shirts are this week’s most sought-after couture souvenir. (Note: Grace Coddington of American Vogue partied in the silk pyjamas she debuted at the Met Ball.) Raf Simons said his Dior venue – built out of hand-painted screens and shiny silver scaffolding for the show in the garden of the Musée Rodin – was part church, part Ibiza nightclub. Early nights are over; dirty-stop-out dressing is so much more fun.

There’s no need to be ashamed of basic hair

Ponytails at the Giambattista Valli show, haute couture AW15. Photograph: David Fisher/Rex Shutterstock

Hurrah! If the most glamorous dresses in the world can be worn with wash-and-go hair, or a last-minute hall-mirror ponytail, we’re in. At Giambattista Valli, the gowns were so haute that at several points, the models seemed to barely have the strength to lift their own organza trains – don’t you hate it when that happens? – and the sunglasses had tiny jewels suspended at angles, like diamante wing mirrors. So far, so glamorous. But the hair was pulled into simple ponytails: not the kind with a backcombed crown and a Pony Club flick at the tips, but the DIY kind that you fasten with a plain black elastic. At Dior, the hair was centre-parted and casual: a spritzed, sprayed and idealised version of the way it looks without a blow-dry. Bearing in mind that haute couture is usually an amplified-by-10 take on even the most high maintenance levels of grooming, the take-out from couture is that catwalk hair is, for once, achievable.

Florals don’t have to be romantic

Atelier Versace, haute couture AW15. Photograph: Dominique Charriau/WireImage

The official theme of Atelier Versace’s show was “tough ethereal – an impeccable imperfection” but the subheading should have been “how the other half go to the garden centre”. The show’s set comprised 25,000 lavender, lilac and yellow orchids, with every bloom treated like a supermodel on a long-haul flight: stroked lovingly and spritzed with water to retain its aesthetic perfection. There were blooms creeping all over the clothes, too: witchy ones on medieval-looking black gowns, deep purple fil coupé on dresses the colour of a tequila sunrise, as well as flower-like cut-outs on trousers and corset tops that were stitched together with staples. All of the alpha models who walked in the show – Lara Stone, Karlie Kloss, Kendall Jenner, Joan Smalls – wore a luxe crystal take on the Glastonbury-approved floral headband. The lesson for the rest of us was that floral prints do not have to be sickly sweet or, God forbid, recall Hyacinth Bouquet; dark twisted blooms will always look fierce.

The barbecue is dead – long live the pique-nique

Louis Vuitton’s La Gallerie in the former family home – an art nouveau house in Asnières-sur-Seine. Photograph: PR

Louis Vuitton introduced the couture crowd to its newest gallery – an art nouveau house in the Parisian suburb of Asnières-sur-Seine that was the Vuitton family’s former home – and provided a lot of picnic inspo in the process. The highlights included a bar dedicated to buratta and fruit crumble, served by a handsome man in a tall chef’s hat, with freshly cut tomatoes and lychee ice-cream, respectively. Sadly, we suspect our efforts to replicate the experience will never reach quite the same levels of chic – the manicured lawns were framed by lush borders bursting with white hydrangeas; the pristine sun umbrellas, white tablecloths and wooden swing seats were definitely not from Homebase. Still, our “summer food” Pinterest boards have been updated accordingly.

Pink is the coolest colour

Farida Khelfa at the Schiaparelli show, haute couture AW15. Photograph: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images

Pink is the most maligned colour of the rainbow – thanks to Barbie, Barbara Cartland and, more recently, the dizzying interiors of Victoria’s Secret stores. But if you can’t help but love the colour regardless, then good news from couture: the recently revived house of Schiaparelli is keen to point out that the shade can be shocking, not sappy. The brand’s founder, Elsa Schiaparelli, was Coco Chanel’s biggest rival in the 1930s; her weird, arty, distinctly feminist take on fashion included collaborations with Salvador Dali and the creation of a signature “shocking” shade of pink with an electric glare that she used to surprise her customers and shake up the status quo. Monday’s show featured a shocking pink carpet, hot pink cushions and invitations, while Meg Ryan, in the front row, wore a black dress with a shocking pink lining, and French-Algerian actor and supermodel Farida Khelfa was swathed in the colour. The final look of the show – a bright pink floor-length chiffon gown – was the image most shared on social media, its brightness underscoring the idea that pink can be punchy and powerful.

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