Robert Wun Couture Fall 2024 Pays Tribute to Time with Dramatic 10th Anniversary Collection

June 28, 2024

Text by Jesse Scott 
Imagery courtesy of Louise Daniel

With the penultimate show on this frenetic Paris Couture Week calendar, Robert Wun presented a tour de force collection that guests will remember for a long, long time. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of his house, Wun titled his collection “Time.” Ten years is a major milestone, inevitably inspiring introspection. Fittingly, Wun listened to the minimalist and mysterious scores of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s films, which emphasize the importance of living in harmony with nature, while preparing this season’s designs.

Wun told Rain: “This collection is very much about self-reflection. You start asking yourself how much longer you can carry on or what’s next.” This was not an unexpected statement from the eloquently spoken and humble designer, but to everyone in the audience Thursday, it seemed that there is no limit as to how far his star can ascend into the fashion galaxy. Equal parts grandiose, complex, and delicate, the looks - each clearly a labor of love - represented couture at its finest. Wun confidently elucidated a powerful vision while demonstrating his unparalleled mastery of embroidery and form. Each dress was so intricate and dramatic (many with trains several meters long) that a final walk would have been entirely impractical. Yet as the last model floated off the runway like stardust, I couldn’t help but want to rewind time and view all the looks again.

Wun Liberates Mind, Body, and Soul

This collection was best epitomized by the progression of its concluding four looks - which celebrated decay and rebirth.  In his interview with Rain, Wun said: “It’s a four chapter thing.  It starts from the skin to the flesh to the bone and then to the soul.” “The skin” was an exquisitely pleated dress with a fully transparent face veil and a mannequin-style headpiece.

Drifting down the runway wraithlike, as if to suggest that our skin is one of the most insubstantial parts of our being, the meticulously constructed look implied deconstruction almost to the point of being a vacuous shell. The next look, the most labor-intensive design in the collection, achieved the complete opposite effect. Representing muscle, it was an approximately 40 kilogram behemoth entirely covered in red bugle bead body armor. This look was followed by “bone,” which saw skeleton arms dangling from epaulets and ribs wrapping around a black jumpsuit like hands. Death personified, it seemed a natural end to this sartorial narrative.

Yet Wun chose to close on the breathlessly optimistic note of his galaxy dress. Through this shimmering masterpiece, Wun made his ultimate peace with the concept of time. “To be able to embrace and accept that there is an end to it all is the beauty of time,” he told Rain. “[Do] not be afraid of it but instead embrace it. One day your skin…you’re flesh, and you’re bone…and then you’re stardust.” The model in the galaxy dress walked with her hands held out in a calming gesture that Wun described as symbolizing her acceptance of this cycle. Rather than than fearing death, she seemed to have made peace with its inevitability and determined that  “living this moment is more important.”  

Of Butterflies and Umbrellas

Wun juxtaposed a series of elegant black and white looks with dresses in radiant florals. Flower motifs were the primary inspiration for several designs and recurred frequently in the projection complementing the show. Unsurprisingly, given this impeccably cohesive collection, the theme of decay remained even among the most vivid colors. Gowns of fuchsia and bumblebee yellow featured both printed burn marks and literally burnt organza fringes.

Butterflies were also protagonists, with dozens of them delicately fastened to black and red dresses and an exquisitely haunting periwinkle coat. Wun has a penchant for horror, and a blue butterfly appearing to sew a model’s mouth shut recalled the death’s head hawkmoth in the classic film Silence of the Lambs. 

Umbrellas, long a Robert Wun signature, returned this season. “I just love them,” the designer told Rain as a smile spread across his face. “I love how one single item can remind people of an element.” For this Fall/Winter collection the umbrellas were envisioned as capturing snow. “We use umbrellas to dodge things, to block ourselves out from things, and to turn those moments into embroidery is something that is…quite realistic and interesting for me,” Wun explained. The umbrellas could also be seen as symbolizing the tension underlying our resistance to decay.

Beautiful Decay Impresses Star-Studded Guest List 

One of Couture Week’s greatest triumphs, the Wun show haunted and amazed a star-powered guest list which included Lisa Rinna, Heart Evangelista, and Miss Fame. Whether symbolized by burn marks, bones, or ephemerally blooming flowers, decay has never looked more beautiful.  Testament to Wun’s superior abilities to succinctly translate his vision into a collection that dazzles while delivering a poignant and thought-provoking message, this stands as a watershed moment for a maison moving into what should be a stellar second decade. Yet Wun himself is simply embracing the moment and taking his journey one step at a time. “I’m just grateful that I’m still able to do it,” he told Rain.“I will do it as much as I can and as long as I can. Even if one day I could not do it anymore…I’m happy.”  

Designer Robert Wun celebrates his 10th Anniversary collection during Paris Fashion Week, Haute Couture.

It’s a mindset with universal resonance. Time conquers all. Further, to quote the Japanese philosophy mono no aware, things that exist merely ephemerally are beautiful precisely because they exist merely ephemerally. To accept this truth in the spirit of Wun’s collection is to appreciate the time which we are given.