A Paris haute couture collection from conception to catwalk

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.


French fashion designer Franck Sorbier draws his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in Paris, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. 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. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)


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.


French fashion designer Franck Sorbier draws his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in his studio, in Paris, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016. 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. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

French fashion designer Franck Sorbier draws his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in Paris, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Drawings of French fashion designer Franck Sorbier for his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection are pictured, in Paris, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. 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. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

French fashion designer Franck Sorbier looks at one of his drawings during the manufacturing of his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in his studio, in Paris, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Isabelle Tartiere Sorbier, right, and Jin, a seamstress, work on a mannequin as they prepare the Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture collection for French fashion designer Franck Sorbier, in Paris, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. 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. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

A seamstress sews at Franck Sorbier fashion house for his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture collection, in Paris, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. 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. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Isabelle Tartiere Sorbier, center left, and fashion designer Franck Sorbier watch a mannequin as they prepare the Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture collection, in Paris, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. 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. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Drawings of dresses are displayed on a board at the Franck Sorbier's office, during the manufacturing of his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in Paris, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Seamstress Bihui works on a dress during the manufacturing of French designer Franck Sorbier' Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in Paris, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. 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. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

French fashion designer Franck Sorbier sews with his sewing machine as he works on his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in Paris, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

French fashion designer Franck Sorbier sews with his sewing machine as he prepares his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in Paris, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. 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. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

French fashion designer Franck Sorbier works on a dress for his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in Paris, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016. 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. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Seamstresses sew at Franck Sorbier fashion house for his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture collection, in Paris, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. 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. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Seamstresses sew at Franck Sorbier fashion house for his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture collection, in Paris, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. 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. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

A seamstress sews at Franck Sorbier fashion house for his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture collection, in Paris, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

French fashion designer Franck Sorbier works on a dress for his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in Paris, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. 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. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

French fashion designer Franck Sorbier holds a mannequin with a dress for his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in Paris, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. 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. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Model and dancer Melissa is prepared backstage prior to the Franck Sorbier' Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

French fashion designer Franck Sorbier, center, supervises the backstage before his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection presented in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. 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. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Models arrive backstage after Franck Sorbier's Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection presented in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

A model is made up backstage prior to Franck Sorbier's Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Models wear creations during Franck Sorbier's Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection presented in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Models wear creations during Franck Sorbier's Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection presented in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Models wear creations by French designer Franck Sorbier as part of his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. 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. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

French fashion designer Franck Sorbier poses after his Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection presented in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Models leave the backstage to present the Franck Sorbier's Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture fashion collection, in Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)


Text from the AP news story, A Paris haute couture collection from conception to catwalk

Photos by Christophe Ena and Thibault Camus

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