PARIS (AP) — From the earliest ink sketches to the final touches on this season's stunning floral gowns, Frank Sorbier is one of the last Parisian couturiers to do it all himself.
In a celebrity-driven industry dominated by luxury corporations, Sorbier is an eccentric independent, working with his beloved parakeet "Lady" on his shoulder or perched perilously near the electric sewing machine needle.
He funds his artistry-driven shows by selling seats to his collections to the general public instead of issuing exclusive invites.
For the diaphanous spring-summer haute couture collection he showed in Paris this week, Sorbier burned the midnight oil with his small atelier team starting in October, as Associated Press photographers followed his creative process from conception to catwalk.
To mark the house's 30th birthday, Sorbier was approached by the Mulhouse Museum of Fabric Printing for a collaboration that inspired themes of paper and flowers.
"All the flowers here come from real 19th-century photographs and drawings on paper I found in the museum archives," Sorbier told the AP. "These gowns are both historic and utterly modern. The source material is over 100 years old, but the motifs were printed onto organza by a state-of-the art printing jet.
Sorbier began by hand-drawing ideas for the collection's silhouette. Four months of painstaking work snipping, sewing, coffee-drinking, smoking and dressing then culminated in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it 10-minute show.
On Wednesday, the sublime artistry of couture merged with 19th-century organza-laid prints of flowers in Sorbier's diaphanous spring-summer collection in Paris.
Onstage, dancer-models in an old theater emerged in large brown paper wraps that were then dramatically torn up into pieces and thrown to the floor. Underneath, sprightly nymph-like gowns in sepia colors appeared and frothed weightlessly as the models performed fairy-like pirouettes and prowled around the space.
Multiple layers — gathered and draped — bounced with movement alongside A-line bodice dresses with square floral print sections in warm, saturated hues.
The audience marveled and applauded.