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4 posts tagged "Couture"

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

Opposites Attract At Clarisse Hieraix

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Thirty-nine-year-old Clarisse Hieraix has been debuting her collections via well-staged presentations for the past two seasons. Yesterday, however, the designer stepped up to the fashion-show format and paraded her Spring ’13 couture looks down the runway in Paris. Hieraix belongs to the hyper-focused, nose-to-the-grindstone breed of up-and-coming talent, and her Spring collection, which the designer described as a “courtship parade,” made a compelling bid for a happy marriage of opposites: minimalism and (controlled) exuberance, transparency and substance, fluidity and structure. Take, for example, a satin perfecto with sharp lines and upturned shoulders paired with a swingy anise-green miniskirt pleated like a ruff. Then there was a series of precise little cocktail dresses, which included one in black velvet. The swell of its hips was flatteringly coaxed out at the sides, and delicate layers of petticoats were held up by a little bustle. Another one in red boasted a large sprig of coral, which punctuated the bust. One model wore a lacy redingote-meets-crinoline jacket that swung around her body like an open cage. As it happens, the night before the show, that piece was still a long coat, but in the eleventh hour, Hieraix decided something was amiss and lopped it off mid-thigh. “It wasn’t about any particular time period, but I’ve always been fascinated by crinolines,” the designer said backstage. “I think there’s still a lot to do there.”

Photo: Victor Virgile/ Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

What’s Old Is New Again?

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Following Paris’ couture week earlier this month, there was a general wringing of hands: Whither couture? With a reduced show schedule, Givenchy moving from the runway to an appointment-only salon, and critics like Cathy Horyn decreeing that “Couture is slipping off people’s radars faster than a U.F.O.,” it’s enough to send métier seamstresses running to update their résumés.

What to do? Adapt. That’s what Worth and Paquin, two of couture’s most storied houses, are doing, with fall entries into ready-to-wear—with their traditions, the designers insist, firmly in hand.

For couture, Worth designer Giovanni Bedin showed corseted, “shell-like” redingote coat-dresses overlaid in gold lace and jewels or lavish flora—precursors, as it turns out, to the return of the line (which is known as Courtworth in the U.S.) to ready-to-wear. “We’ll be keeping the ideas, fabrics, and shapes, but expanding them to ready-to-wear,” Bedin noted. The lavish Elizabeth I-inspired dresses are indicative of his direction, a pastiche of historical references but “with more modern details.” (The dresses previewed left and below are from Worth’s Fall ’10 RTW collection.) The launch coincides with a trip into house fragrance archives, too: An updated version of the 1932 scent Je Reviens will be unveiled at Harrods’ Perfume Diaries exhibition in August.

Unlike Worth, which has continued through recent years, the house of Paquin has been shuttered for half a century. But now under the designer and perfumer Libertin Louison, the label is preparing to reenter the market, first with fragrance (updated versions of two 1939 scents, Ever After and 9×9) and then fashion. “Jeanne Paquin was a true avant-garde designer,” says Louison. “She was the first to organize shows in unusual places, like a race track, and the first designer to travel to New York to show her wares. She knew what she wanted, and a century ago—before Chanel—she succeeded as a businesswoman in a man’s world.” He’ll channel the founder’s spirit with “simple, pure clothes with close attention to detail.” (An exclusive sketch of one of his designs for the revived label is below.) Continue Reading “What’s Old Is New Again?” »

Is It Just Us, Or Was Lady Gaga’s Influence All Over Couture?

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It’s ironic that someone who is in a perpetual state of half dress is so strongly influencing fashion. Lady Gaga’s aversion to pants has been well documented, so it’s no surprise to read that the blonde balladeer is responsible for a huge increase in the sales of knickers in Britain. It’s another thing altogether to find allusions to this pop culture omnivore (who is attired by a Warholian gaggle of twentysomethings working under the moniker Haus of Gaga) at the haute couture in Paris. And yet it was hard not to detect a hint of the Gaga effect in Gaultier Paris‘ leg-bearing bodysuits, Christian Lacroix‘s sculptural skirts, Givenchy‘s dangling chains, and even the pouf-skirted finale dress at Chanel. Click for a slideshow, and let us know what you think of the results—sacrilege or a breath of fresh air?

 

 

Photo: Tyrone Kerr / Film Magic