All the Striking Gowns from Tony Ward’s “Under My Skin” Haute Couture 2023 Collection
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Lebanese-Italian fashion designer Tony Ward hit Paris Haute Couture Week with an incendiary collection entitled “Under My Skin.” It’s a tribute to the human body, and the paradoxical way that this very vessel used to traverse the world is, in fact, a world in and of itself.
In an exclusive interview with Wedded Wonderland, the designer explained that the title had a double meaning. “Getting under the skin of someone has many senses,” he said; it could signify everything between annoyance and emotional attachment. Skin, the largest organ, is what connects us to what’s around us, and is a complex receptor that grants access to boundless sensations. And doesn’t fashion, in its expressiveness and variety, similarly act as both a communicative and protective barrier between self and the world?
The second meaning is literal. The collection, said Ward, is a development of the skin taken under a microscope, reproduced repeatedly via hand-crafting and 3D printing to form the patterns. This skin motif also extended to the colors used. “The colors were found [in] this microscopic research—the orange part of the skin, the grayish blue, and a touch of pink,” he said, adding that they were also inspired by bloodish hues.
Looking at the collection, the motif is clear as day. The gowns behave like skin. They are wounded, wrinkled, stretched, and scabbing. Beadwork, crystals, glitter, and sequins are deployed with the oil spill luminance of organisms under a microscope. Holes are pierced into netting, resembling the frantic multiplication of cells in timelapse. Ward treats fabric as a new epidermis. “Mousseline texture mutated into scales / Embroidered molecules bonded together,” reads the poem that captions the collection.
These specific features lend beautiful storytelling to the artistic gowns, a number of which are easily adaptable for bridalwear. Oystershell ruffles, slouchy belts, shawl collars, high slits, and cape veils are standout characteristics of the collection, and are worth integrating into bridalwear to give it an otherworldly aura.
According to the designer, 15-20% of the pieces in “Under My Skin” are upcycled, made from readapted materials from past collections. Biodegradable materials were also used for the 3D printing.
When asked how he balances incorporating traditional elements of Lebanese and Italian fashion in the context of innovation, Ward observed that fashion goes beyond sociocultural borders, and speaks to the singular. “There’s no more Lebanese or Italian or French fashion. Our clients come from all over the world. We work from Southeast Asia to Russia, to the USA to the Middle East and Australia. You don’t style a country anymore—you style a person. You cannot cater to everybody.”
The house focuses on valuing the client, and ensuring that she feels her best on her special day. “Today’s woman wants to feel like a celebrity on a red carpet, whether it’s her wedding, a bar mitzvah, or if she’s just going to a party. She wants to look like the most important person in [her own eyes]. Because we need to love ourselves before giving love to others.”
View the Tony Ward Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2023-2024 Collection “Under My Skin” below:
Photos courtesy of Tony Ward
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