PARIS — Edging into the halo of the last few remaining giants, a diverse crop of newcomers will be joining couture week this season. Among them, Jordanian-born, Canada-based designer Rad Hourani, who is known for his artfully crafted black, architectural, seasonless, androgynous designs, plans to present what he claims will be the first unisex haute couture show in history. Few will get to witness it, though. Around 50 guests will be invited to the event, which is to be held on July 4 at 5 p.m. in the Canadian cultural center in the 7th arrondissement.

Describing the difference between his Rad by Rad Hourani ready-to-wear label and the new couture line, Hourani said, “One piece can take up to three weeks to make, using (luxurious) fabrics… each pattern is reworked eight to 10 times… it is a completely different process of designing-cutting-sewing.” The silhouettes in the couture line have very minimalist 3-D effects, with different dimensions playing out on each side, he explained.


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Couture week will also welcome Russian socialite, fashion designer and photographer Ulyana Sergeenko, who will be presenting outside of Moscow for the first time. Sergeenko, whose vintage-inspired ultra-feminine creations have been spotted on the likes of Natalia Vodianova, herself has become popular with style blogs for her distinctive style and doll-like features.

Having launched her namesake label last April, Sergeenko, who is a major collector of vintage clothing, sees couture week as the perfect stage for showcasing the rich handiwork that goes into her collections.
Her show will be held on July 3 at the Théâtre Marigny.

Sergeenko’s fall-winter ’12 collection is to highlight various traditional Russian dressmaking techniques involving beading, hand knitting, lace making and embroidery, the designer said, with detailed accessories and special headpieces. Everything is produced at the house’s Moscow atelier, which has a staff of around 40. Outerwear will be a strong focus, including long military capes, lace-lined coats and puff jackets. Sergeenko said she would like to keep the line atelier focused but is considering special projects with boutiques in Europe. She is keen to protect the house’s special universe.

“We have quite a sophisticated background with lots of Soviet references — from cinema and photography — as well as lots of references to my own childhood,” said Sergeenko, who grew up in Kazakhstan before moving to St. Petersburg at age 12. “I really like Russian culture. Russia has a deep, difficult history with lots of beautiful things that I like to use as references.”

For made-to-measure orders, clients must either visit the brand’s Moscow atelier or have its head couturier pay them a visit.

Following five seasons of static presentations, meanwhile, the House of Worth, whose founder, Charles Frederick Worth, is often referred to as the father of haute couture, this season will be staging the first runway presentation of its Worth Couture line under creative director Giovanni Bedin. The house will stage two shows on July 3 at the Hôtel de Crillon.

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