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August 23 2014

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The Couture World And The Real World

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The Haute Couture shows, which wrapped in Paris this week, are the summa of impossible luxury in the world of fashion. Whatever you can do with clothes (and much of what you think you can’t) gets done. Put plainly, couture is a fantasy. But it doesn’t take much prodding to wonder about the reality, given that couture looks—those actually purchased, not lent to celebrities for red-carpet occasions—cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that those on the sidelines have been bewailing the death of couture since the midcentury. Especially in times of economic downturn, a question looms over the proceedings: Does anyone buy?

On her blog today, Cathy Horyn put the question to a few houses and came back with an answer: yes. Sidney Toledano, Dior’s president, has said that the sales of Raf Simons’ first couture collection improved on that of prior ones, to the tune of double-digit growth. Even the more untraditional designs—a three-piece suit, for example—find clients. “We have more orders than our capacity,” Toledano said. Karl Lagerfeld confirmed buyers for his Chanel Couture, too. Horyn hints that they’re largely Russian, as well as Chinese and Middle Eastern. “Lately I’ve heard some incredible stories,” she teases, dropping only that one Russian Chanel client bought twenty outfits in a span of two hours. In the absence of journalistic muckraking, the world can only await the arrival of a headline-grabbing memoir called Confessions of a Couture Client. Here’s hoping some free-spending Muscovite can be convinced to step up.

Photo: Marcus Tondo / InDigital / GoRunway

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