couture round-up: under the radar designers

Here are our favourite under-the-radar houses that discreetly push the frontiers and refuse to make mere princess dresses.

by Alice Pfeiffer
Jan 29 2015, 10:40am

To most of us, haute couture week is a distant happening we're likely to never enjoy as a customer. The small(ish) presentations of garments, mostly gowns, are designed to appeal to the ultra rich, light-years away from daily urban grit, and survive on only selling a few dresses per season. Nevertheless, the exquisite made-to-measure artistry is vital for another reasons: in a time of fast fashion, each maison keeps alive a dying practice of craftsmanship and atelier-sized know-how. 

On Aura Tout Vu
Although the house has been around for a while, it is better known for its wildly theatrical pieces. Its universe - a sort of twisted fairytale with a hint of revisited, cheeky Tim Burton— has caught the attention of an array of performers: past collaborations include the Moulin Rouge, stage costumes for Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga or Conchita

Photography Mitchell Sams

Yiqing Yin
The Franco-Chinese designer masters an airy, discreetly complex art of pleats and drapes - always feminine, never girly. The young, drown-down-dead elegant woman prides herself on a method that mixes couture practice and 'voluntary accidents'. She recently dressed actress Audrey Tautou as well as Natalia Vodianova for a Guerlain film, and collaborated with Lancôme.

Photography courtesy Yiqing Yin

The Dutch designer feels couture isn't about practicality but ought to be treated as a creative hub, a place for discovery. After designing costumes for The Hunger Games, his latest collection delves further into a surreal journey, which is playfully inspired by action heroines and Antiquity fashion.

Photography courtesy Jantaminiau

Dice Kayek
Season after season, Turkish designer Ece Ege tries to find a new space for what she describes as "modern romanticism", both feminine and eccentric. She achieves this by games of construction and deconstruction, pleats, twists, clashes - architectural and, most recently, referencing both traditional Turkish culture and French artist Annette Messager as well as Louise Bourgeois.

Photography courtesy Dice Kayek