"That model's face looks pixelated" said a colleague while gazing at pictures of Giambattista Valli's couture show (below), on screen. In fact, what looked at first like digitalised features, was actually the result of Valli's decision to send each of his models down the runway with a hairnet-like gauze - occasionally adorned with tropical butterflies - enveloping their heads.
Giambattista Valli haute couture autumn/winter 2012. Photo: AFP/ Reuters
While the most likely candidate for wearing a veil during Paris Haute Couture is normally the bride (almost every show's finale concludes with an elaborate wedding gown with trains so wide the front row often have to shuffle to accommodate its passage), this season, veils have taken on a life of their own. And without a frothy white gown in sight, both Giorgio Armani and Raf Simons at Dior joined Valli in swathing a large number of their models in delicate veils, too.
At Dior, Simons' hairnet-like face wraps were a continuation of the knitted beanies overlaid with coordinating net which he showed in his spring/summer 2012 collection for Jil Sander. Perhaps the headwear - which on occasion looked like it could have been sourced from a Parisian garden centre - was a nod to the estimated one million roses which adorned the Dior show venue.
Dior haute couture autumn/winter 2012. Photo: EPA/ Reuters
Giorgio Armani meanwhile, explained his use of intricately beaded and bejewelled veils which hung more traditionally from the forehead as: "a flash of embroidered stars on a veil that conceals the face down to the neck hints at a wordless mystery, a mystery that speaks of otherworldly enchantment."
Armani Privé haute couture autumn/winter 2012. Photo: AFP/ Reuters.
Let's focus on Armani's use of "otherworldly" here, which essentially refers to "us" and "them". "Us" being the real world civilians who can barely scrape together the means for a pair of prêt-a-porter trousers, and "them", the super-rich who think nothing of flying a couturier's dressmaker out to their palatial homes for a fitting.
Forget It-bags, sporting a couture veil might yet become the ultimate vehicle for "haute differentiation".