Fashion / Style

Here are the top 10 best haute couture collections of all time

Haute couture stands as the zenith of fashion design, a testament to a house's true atelier craftsmanship and its enduring influence on the industry. It's an art form where beneath the layers of voluminous silks, delicate netting, and intricate lace lies a realm of secrets—secrets that whisper into ready-to-wear collections and beyond, blurring the lines between life and art.

Translated from French, haute couture is simply the definition of high dress making, but not all fashion houses are able to attain the accreditation. Fashion houses that wish to call themselves haute couture must seek authorisation from the governing body, the Chambre Syndical de La Haute Couture in Paris.

In haute couture, surrealism takes on a tangible form. It's the epitome of handmade artistry, where every stitch is a testament to meticulous, time-consuming techniques. Haute couture celebrates the power of emotion and the human touch, solidifying creative directors' names and houses as synonymous with luxury and atelier excellence. Icons like Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Adeline André, and the legendary Christian Dior have shaped fashion history through their haute couture creations.

To articulate the mesmerising enchantment of haute couture is no easy task. Below, we present a curated selection of the top 10 best haute couture looks of all time.


Schiaparelli Spring/ Sumer 1938 Haute Couture: The Circus Collection

Testing the conventional standards of time was Elsa Schiaparelli. A close friend of surrealist artist, Salvador Dali, Schiaparelli was influenced by him and the trompe-loeil effect he introduced to her, that to English translates to 'one that deceives the eye'. As seen above from the early sketches Dali offered to Schiaparelli, is a black long sleeve dress with 3D bones rendered internally by hand embroidered pads onto the rayon crepe. The collection itself had models adorned in circus motifs like big top prints, buttons shaped like clowns, and hats resembling a carousel house. Influenced by surrealism and art, Elsa Schiaparelli's legacy and spirit lives on within the house as today's creative director Daniel Roseberry mimics the beloved trompe-loeil effect in anatomical designs, and his creativity in turning body parts into jewellery.


CHANEL Fall/Winter 1984

After Coco Chanel's death in 1971, Karl Lagerfeld took on her classic designs and silhouettes, like the tweed suit and little black dress, and reinterpreted them for a modern audience. He introduced bolder colours, a more youthful vibe, and a touch of extravagance, all while keeping the essence of Chanel's timeless elegance. Presenting as CHANEL's creative director for over 30 years, his first couture dabbled in the idea of the modern 'CHANEL woman', but quickly his couture designs became one of the most anticipated of the season.


Thierry Mugler Fall/Winter 1995

Absolutely, without a doubt, this collection will go down as one of the best haute couture collections ever made. Thierry Mugler himself was a ballet dancer turned creative director. This collection cemented his reputation as a fashion showman. The show itself was exuberant, a performance that had over 300 designs displayed in the show, worn by the biggest supermodels, even Michaela Bercu walked in a now iconic pregnant look. There was, fur, metal, latex, leather, futuristic silhouettes in hyper feminine silhouettes. One of the more iconic looks from the collection was worn by Zendaya for the Dune: Part 2 premiere, where she wore the rare robot look from this collection.


Yves Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 1993

One of the oldest haute couture houses, Yves Saint Laurent. This collection displayed the perfect balance where creativity complements sartorial substance. This collection graced the runway in floral motifs and strong colour ways. A collection that aided Kate Moss's position from model to supermodel. Cinched waists, and aerating shoulder pads – but not in the forms the 80s we're used to. All while maintaining an air of effortless for the Parisian chic woman, as Yves Saint Laurent said himself, what's most important in a dress is the women that wear it.


Versace Autumn/Winter 1995

Gianni Versace encapsulated decadence in a regal colour palette. It was if Dorothy tapped her ruby slippers twice and they painted the way. He was a master at sculpting to the body, and in this collection putting the body directly in the spotlight with glistening rhinestones. Gianni Versace in this collection truly dressed his couture women as sirens of the night, ready for lights, cameras and red carpets.


Alexander McQueen Autumn/Winter 1998

Evoking the spirit of Joan of Arc, a tragic heroine of history and feminism, the Joan collection whispered of strength and a bygone era. Alexander McQueen was known for his groundbreaking designs and dramatic shows, they were much a show as they were a platform to display his designs. McQueen says his designs were intended to protect women and protect them from looking innocent and naive, and empower them. Using art as his outlet for his dark past experiences, McQueen became known for his extraordinary designs and unique inspiration to his collections. The Joan of Arc collection had accessorised the models to also wear red contacts and for the finale, have the models circled by a ring fire.


Valentino Spring/Summer 2008 Haute Couture

The last collection from Valentino Garavani after 45 years, leaving in style of course. Iconically adhering to the symbolic Valentino red, a symbol of Garavani's passion for vibrant timeless elegance. The collection was a sublime tribute to his career, showcasing the impeccable craftsmanship and timeless elegance that defined his brand, with a palette of soft pastels and rich jewel tones adorning the luxurious fabrics like silk chiffon and satin. The finale of the show had all the models walking out with Garavani in a red dress with one sleeve off the shoulder.


Maison Margiela Fall/Winter 2012

Creative directed by John Galliano, he showcased a daring exploration of deconstruction and avant-garde fashion. The collection blurred traditional boundaries with innovative textures and materials, juxtaposing oversized silhouettes with tailoring and unexpected fabric combinations. Galliano's visionary approach infused the runway with surrealism and artistic references, reflected in muted tones accented by flashes of metallics and jewels. This collection challenged conventional norms, emphasising anonymity and individuality through exposed seams, raw edges, and accessories.


Chanel Spring/Summer 2017

Held at the Grand Palais in Paris, the runway was transformed into a futuristic data centre, setting the stage for a blend of traditional elegance and contemporary innovation. The collection featured iconic tweed suits updated with metallic threads and digital prints, alongside flowing dresses adorned with intricate beadwork and feather embellishments. Karl Lagerfeld's keen eye for detail was evident in every piece, from the structured jackets to the evening gowns, all complemented by statement accessories like oversized pearls and embellished sunglasses. Model Lily-Rose Depp solidified her appearance as a CHANEL girl in this season.


Maison Margiela Fall/Winter 2024

The most recent haute couture collection that broke the internet and grasped everyone's attention, was of course done by none other than, Galliano. His designs are a theatrical, avant-garde assault on the senses, haunting the runway with a fantastical vision only he can create. These silhouettes were ethereal, producing lace dresses with stripes and textured fabrics that wove an illusion of bold colour blocks. This collection is a vibrant breath of life. Delivering a pure expression of creative genius – the kind of experience that leaves us as an audience yearning for more. I've said it once, and I will say it again that Galliano's theatrical spectacles are a true art form.



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