When I saw the video of Xuan-Thu Nguyen's Winter Couture 2010/11 show, my heart soared and sunk all at once. It soared due to the abundance of exquisiteness and it sank because I was supposed to have been there taking it all in firsthand. (I had to renew my Canadian passport and it didn't come back in time to make the trip from England to Paris. The pity party I threw for myself was a rip-roaring good time.) Thu - she goes by the second part of her first name - is a friend; we met when I lived in Paris and I became an instant, rabid fan of her work which revolves around elegant and whimsical shapes and textures that are couture quality even in her prêt-à-porter. This couture collection is my favourite and that's saying a lot considering my smitten-ness was already sealed in concrete.
Thu's concept for winter centres around change, and in the spirit of physical transformation takes inspiration from ice - big chunks contrasted with the softness of snow and melting ice, which unlike a lot of inspirational reference points can be inferred without explanation at first glance of its key pieces.
A Xuan-Thu Nguyen collection wouldn't be complete without something that isn't quite what it seems. In the past we've seen fox 'fur' stoles made out of flowers and here we have 'fur' sculptures in the form of a lush wrap and a skirt made entirely of linen fibres. The details appear as icy flowers, drops of crystal and shifted layers.
As the models walked right up to the front row so guests could have a close look at the details, no doubt hearts were melting, too.
Watch what happened 'avant' the show:
And here's the show: