Haute couture reborn | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Why and how does haute couture in Paris survive?

First, let us see how it is experiencing a rebirth: Younger clients from emerging economies such as India, Brazil, Qatar, China, Tunisia and Kazakhstan have become more fashion-conscious and hungry for the best clothes money can buy.

Most made-to-order outfits, such as the Chanel suit, start with a six-figure price tag. Anna Wintour wore Chanel when she was inducted to the French Legion of Honor, the very next day after the Karl Lagerfeld-designed Chanel collection was shown. This was a fashion coup for obvious reasons for Chanel.

The Wintour awarding ceremony prefigures the answer to why, despite catering to only 800 clients on this planet, haute couture has survived: It is the ultimate showcase for super-brands such as Dior, Armani, Givenchy, Saab and Gaultier, providing them with maximum publicity fiesta and the cache to churn out other fashion-related items such as perfume, body care and makeup products, which rake in the profits. In fact, Saab and Gaultier just released new perfumes last week.

Add to this ready-to-wear lines, watches, leather accessories such as bags and shoes, jewelry (fake and real), watches and logo-studded anything (bed sheets, towels, cigarettes, chocolates). Now, Armani even has hotels. So, you see the big picture?

Accredited by the Paris Chambre de Syndicale, there are only a few fashion houses worthy of being called haute couture. They bring in all the money through its downstream industries such as RTW, jewelry and perfumery. In the grand scheme of all things fashion-related, haute couture is vital, valid and important: It’s the goose that lays the golden egg.

Haute couture is also where fashion trends come from, from the glow-in-the-dark shoes at the finale of Chanel to the nail polish of the models at Valentino; from the short skirt suits and shift dresses at Chanel, where not a single pair of pants appeared, to daywear, where the length is just below the knee.

But it was all pants at Giorgio Armani, who turned 77. He did the bridal gown for the new Princess of Monaco, then showed Japanese flourishes and fabrics, hailed as his best in his six-year couture showing.

Ditto for Jean Paul Gaultier, who added 50 percent menswear to his couture lineup.

Elie Saab showed enough glitter and glamour, from which actresses such as Kate Blanchet and Anne Hathaway could choose their next red-carpet ride.

Ricardo Tisci showed only 10 fully embroidered and beaded creations, each one a white-on-white masterpiece.

But it was the show of Azzedine Alaia which was the hottest ticket in town. After an eight-year hiatus, Alaia did a Tom Ford and allowed only a hundred handpicked press, buyers and friends to his show, which garnered a 10-minute standing ovation.

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