As the pandemic continues to change the nature of work all around the world, the fashion industry is adjusting to yet another round of socially distanced fashion shows, this time in the form of haute couture week in Paris. As has been the case since the end of fashion month in February 2020 – a season that was cut short due to the outbreak of COVID-19 spreading to both Italy and France during their respective fashion weeks – designers have either decided to opt out of the affair completely (Jean-Paul Gaultier and Ralph & Russo) or continue on, masks and sanitizer in tow.
Of course, though live-streaming opens up shows to millions who wouldn’t otherwise get to see the spectacle in full, it also means we’re missing both the street style, front row and energy that comes with a packed crowd in the Grand Palais, phones at the ready, desperate to see what – and who – Chanel will send down the runway.
In an ode to seasons past, as virtual shows kick off, we’re taking a look back at the most iconic haute couture moments from the 90s, pre-Hadids, pre-Instagram and, most importantly, pre-pandemic.
Valentino Haute Couture, 1999
Before Gisele Bündchen was one of the most famous models in the world, she was a fresh-faced teenager walking the Valentino Haute Couture runway while dating up-and-coming actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. Little did she know that this image of her dressed in Valentino’s signature red would still be held up as one of her most memorable runway moments over 20 years later.
Valentino Haute Couture, 1995
In the 90s, no one wanted a front-row seat at any haute couture show more than Versace’s. While other designers were still very much sticking to polite, quiet, traditional runway presentations, Gianni Versace was making noise in the form of showstopping, sparkly designs and supermodels to boot. Nothing encapsulates the mood more perfectly than a young Kate Moss closing the show as a shimmering Versace bride in 1995.
Balmain Haute Couture, 1991
Search iconic Haute Couture moments and this scarlet velvet gown and cape from Balmain’s 1991 Haute Couture show is one of the top results: her walk, the beauty look and the velvet. Olivier Rousteing, please bring this brilliant look into 2021.
Chanel Haute Couture, 1992
Before Karl Lagerfeld had taken to creating huge, showstopping sets in which to house his Chanel shows, such as casinos, airplanes, and seaside towns, the designer relied on the 90s supers to create a stir. Linda Evangelista wearing a sleeveless Chanel mini dress with long latex gloves and a huge headpiece did just that.
Versace Haute Couture, 1992
Naomi Campbell was the ultimate Haute Couture bride for Gianni Versace’s 1992 show, wearing a white and gold embellished gown, complete with a long veil and Versace gold flowers.
Dior Haute Couture, 1998
British designer, John Galliano, lived up to his reputation of theatrics and excitement for Dior’s Haute Couture 1998 show, taking the runway to the Palais Garnier Opera House. Models descended a grand marble staircase in elaborate designs, which included tulle, fur-trimmed coats and cinched waisted gowns and at the end of the show, lay across the stairs as colorful paper confetti butterflies showered down on those lucky enough to have witnessed the proceedings firsthand.
Chanel Haute Couture, 1993
By 1993, Claudia Schiffer was firmly cemented as a supermodel of the time and, almost just as importantly, the muse of the late Chanel designer, Karl Lagerfeld. From the late 1980s and all throughout the 1990s, Schiffer was a guaranteed star of any Chanel show, often modeling closing the show in the brand’s highly-anticipated haute couture wedding gowns and accompanying the designer as he took his post-show bow.
Yves Saint Laurent, 1993
In 1993, Kate Moss – a then 19-year-old – was just starting to make serious waves in the fashion industry. Less than a year after her runway debut, Moss donned a floral dress, vampy lips and gold heels for Yves Saint Laurent, looking every bit a supermodel in the making.
Givenchy Haute Couture, 1997
For his debut couture collection at Givenchy, Alexander McQueen sent models down the runway in an array of white and gold, embellished with mythological looking headpieces and metallics. Despite the whole collection being put together in less than three months, and McQueen himself denouncing it a few months later, the bold debut has gone down in couture history.
Thierry Mugler Haute Couture, 1995
In 1995, Mugler seemingly predicted the obsession with technology we’d all soon have, sending models down the runway in cyborg-like suits that wouldn’t be amiss on the Met Gala 2019 runway (themed ‘About Time: Fashion and Duration’).
Chanel Haute Couture, 1995
Naomi Campbell’s Chanel LBD paired with an oversized pink marabou hat and matching armbands was a showstopping runway moment back in 1994.
Chanel Haute Couture, 1993
Nowadays it’s all about Kaia Gerber, but no 90s runway roundup would be complete without Cindy Crawford and, specifically, Cindy Crawford in this incredible Chanel cut-out gown that wouldn’t be amiss on the likes of Zendaya today.
Dior Haute Couture, 1999
In a collection inspired by the film of the moment, The Matrix, John Galliano presented a haute couture show for Dior that mixed futurism with historical references, resulting in the above look fit for a god, or Keanu Reeves on a good day.