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05-05-2010
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Couture isn't very smart financial business because it makes, overall, very little money for big brands. There are very few people interested in paying for it at this point and that's why all the "is couture dying?" hullabaloo has been going on for so long. I think the motives for making couture differ by designer and I believe some are genuinely interested in making clothing-as-art while others just want their brand name to feel more exclusive by offering such services, but I think most every designer appreciates an article of clothing whose every last detail is special and attended to. You can get a made-to-measure wedding dress for $10k but, as exquisite as it can be, it won't be as perfect as a couture garment. You're paying that high price tag for all the attention lavished onto the garment and the more careful manners of sewing, tailoring, etc., plus more luxe fabrics, and more creative designs, if you so wish for such a unique piece. Some people genuinely appreciate that, it's a profound sensual pleasure, and I'd be one of those people too if I had the money. But so few people are of that sort today, plus there are more high-end ready-to-wear pieces available than ever and trends change so quickly, and that's why we have all this talk over couture's death.

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05-05-2010
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I think it would be a very sad day if couture were to die, and I think Mr. de la Renta is missing one of the key points of couture... it's one of a kind, it's special, and it keeps the very small pool of people who have the knowledge and experience to create things in this manner going. Yes, it is made with the best materials available and yes it takes countless man hours to make it man-made, so if your looking at it from a business standpoint the opinion may be justified in terms of financial expense to keep the collections going.

But for the people who buy couture, they aren't going to look at a garment and think, 'geez, this is $250,000'. They are going to see a piece of art, made by a decreasing circle of people that have the knowledge and experience of couture hand sewing technique, and that is completely special because they are the only person that has it. And really, if you have the sort of money that is necessary to buy the pieces in the first place, why not buy a one of a kind creation by the master designers when some RTW pieces are costing $50,000+ anyway.

I want to be a designer, and even though I know I could make whatever I wanted up if I had the funds available, I think if I'm ever in the position to be able to do so I myself would buy a piece from the likes of Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel... it's art and history..

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Last edited by irresistable_loz; 05-05-2010 at 07:13 PM.
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05-05-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shopsmuch View Post
You're paying that high price tag for all the attention lavished onto the garment and the more careful manners of sewing, tailoring, etc., plus more luxe fabrics, and more creative designs, if you so wish for such a unique piece.
Like I said made to measure means made to measure that means it will be perfect = 0 differences in sewing & tailoring. "luxe fabrics" I simply doubt that there is any diff, at a certain price tag you reach the end of high end quality fabrics and worldwide there are only few factories that have the machinery to produce them anyway.
As always when it comes to clothing itís the design & the brand name that makes the price tag difference! And since there are so few customers they have to increase prices not by the "normal" 200% but by 2000%

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05-05-2010
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Couture can't be over. Couture is more than just fashion, it represents an art. Its like saying that good paintings will not be made anymore because anyone can go buy a crappy paintin for 10 dollars at a market. Just imagine how sad it would be to not have a couture week every january .

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05-05-2010
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My question is what is meant by couture - is it a garment made by a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture? Of course I don't want it to go away, but perhaps it needs to be redefined. If someone is willing to fork over enough money, then ANY designer with the staff will do a custom made garment.

What is the marketplace, specifically the uber-wealthy marketplace looking for - a designer's talent or technique? Of course technique matters, but to me the buyer is responding to the designer, be it Chanel, Elie Saab, Prada, Monique Lhuillier, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Zac Posen, Dior, Michael Kors, Gucci or Valentino and it is coincidental as to whether or not they are members of the Chambre and therefore the garment produced can be labeled as couture. I read things like (and I am making up the dates and numbers), in the 1950s there were 50,000 haute couture clients and now there are 7,000. What does that mean? Does that mean that 43,000 have completely gone away or just that the current generation is not locked into a select group of designers.


Last edited by agee; 05-05-2010 at 10:18 PM.
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05-05-2010
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^ yes. In order to be considered haute couture, the house must be listed as a couturier by the dept.

It's sort of like how champagne can only be called champagne if it's from the Champagne region in France. In any other location, it is simply called sparkling wine.

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05-05-2010
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It is in the same situation bespoke was a few years ago. During the recession hit, Anderson & Sheppard orders rose 25%. Now that is coming from by far the most important clothier in the world. Without them RL, Tom Ford, Flusser and others would be forced to wear their own clothes (but also more importantly because A&S gave all these guys their menswear inspiration, some..caugh...TF and Lauren flat out ripped off their pattern)! But also savile row standards are the highest and they produce the best, because men are a lot more particular about their suiting than women are with their couture. Or maybe it's even, since it is couture for men, except....wearable...forever.


Last edited by PaoloM; 05-05-2010 at 11:33 PM.
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05-05-2010
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My grandparents are old enough to remember a time when ready-to-wear did not exist. Couture was the business of making clothes. If you wanted clothes, they were specially made for you - you did not go to a dept store and pick one off the rack.

And that is the pure form of couture. It didn't mean using fabrics that a hundred men had to hand dye in India from in a hue that is extracted from a rare flower somewhere in Africa. Or a shirt with bead work from a factory of workers slaving through the middle of the night.

The form of couture that exists right now is a different creature.

All these million dollar gowns today is just an over-inflated industry milking as much as it can from the uber-wealthy who are willing to buy it. And it is for that reason haute couture will never die. There will always be wealthy people.

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06-05-2010
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Quote:
My question is what is meant by couture - is it a garment made by a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture? Of course I don't want it to go away, but perhaps it needs to be redefined. If someone is willing to fork over enough money, then ANY designer with the staff will do a custom made garment.
Technically, couture houses are those that belong to the Chamber and are approved by the overseeing French fashion body.

However, the fashion industry considers "true couture" to be the houses who create couture that is innovative and challenging, all the while remaining true to the exquisite level of craftsmanship. Chanel, Dior (now days less so), Givenchy, Lacroix (before he bankrupted), etc.

The likes of Elie Saab, Armani Prive, Zuhair Murad have never been accepted as "true" haute couture. Just overly embellished gowns.

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06-05-2010
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Haute Couture is becoming too slow and unpractical for today's world. And in that way I think it's becoming irrelevant.
When the fashion industry is run purely by money-oriented businessmen Haute Couture wither ceases to exist or just becomes very boring, like what's happening now. Lacroix is gone, Christian Dior has become virtually uninspired, Atelier Versace is barley hanging on, Valentino has become a wasteland and Chanel....well Chanel Couture to me simply doesn't even look like Haute Couture. With the exception of Jean Paul Gaultier and probably Givenchy, Haute Couture is simply deteriorating in creativity and quality.
And in that article I posted in the other thread, which I recommend everyone should read, I'm glad that Elie Saab is questioned because he is one of the few traditional couturiers who is still very very privately attached to his client and knows what his client wants.

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06-05-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eternitygoddess View Post
But couture isn't for the masses. That's what makes it so special and distinguishable. For couture to have to pander to the masses would be the death knoll for art.
Exactly my feelings, thank you.

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06-05-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Littleathquakes View Post
My grandparents are old enough to remember a time when ready-to-wear did not exist. Couture was the business of making clothes. If you wanted clothes, they were specially made for you - you did not go to a dept store and pick one off the rack.

And that is the pure form of couture. It didn't mean using fabrics that a hundred men had to hand dye in India from in a hue that is extracted from a rare flower somewhere in Africa. Or a shirt with bead work from a factory of workers slaving through the middle of the night.

The form of couture that exists right now is a different creature.

All these million dollar gowns today is just an over-inflated industry milking as much as it can from the uber-wealthy who are willing to buy it. And it is for that reason haute couture will never die. There will always be wealthy people.
Actually, that kind of couture does exist still - However, we are talking about Haute Couture which is actually a different genre. It is the members of the Chambre i believe we are discussing here.
There are still plenty of places you can go to get clothes tailor and custom made, still couture, just not Haute Couture

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06-05-2010
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^ Yeah, I agree. Couture is different from Haute Couture. Couture is basically custom-made fashion, which most certainly still exists. Many people do Couture at home.
Haute Couture however is a completely different story.

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06-05-2010
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Perhaps if haute couture stopped contorting itself to fit with the demands of the fashion industry (which is a business), maybe then I'd be willing to accept it as "art" on the level of painting, sculpture, or literature. As of the moment, it is still straddling the line between "art" and "product".

For instance: why do designers insist on showing haute couture collections twice a year? It makes sense for the RTW industry to do this in order to maximize profit (this is the business side of fashion), but what's the point of haute couture following the seasons when it aspires to a higher level of art? There were no schedules or deadlines (in the commercial sense) for the likes of Picasso, Hiroshige, or Rodin, or for the writing of the great works of literature. So why don't designers only show haute couture collections when it is in fact feasible for them to do so? If Galliano and Lagerfeld were true artists they would not dare condescend to show their "art" in a timely fashion as dictated by an industry. James Joyce took seventeen years to write Finnegans Wake. The creation of true art is unfettered by the constraints of time outside of the artist's life.

So long as haute couture is produced with concerns about profit I would never equate it to painting or sculpture or literature (of course, today's commercialization of artists like Damian Hirst is something after the fact; haute couture is produced with profit in mind). Given that it is a collaborative craft as well, I would say it is closer to cinema than it is to the traditional arts (seamstresses et al in place of cast and crew). Cinema has to make money in order to pay for its cost of production in the same way that haute couture has to earn its keep, since the both of them need a heck of a lot more financial investment than what is involved in making a painting. Haute couture is and most certainly will always be a commercial art form, and in order for it to live on it must adapt to the changing and evolving framework of commerce in which it is created and exists. I think until designers realize this, then haute couture can only slowly crawl towards irrelevance. They pretend as if haute couture is just like painting or sculpture, and it is this pretension that does a true disservice to the craft.


Last edited by Uemarasan; 06-05-2010 at 12:23 PM.
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06-05-2010
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If I had the cash, I would definitely get some couture pieces from Dior, for the very least... Maybe some Lacroix - or vintage Christian, at that matter! There's still some relevance there, but it's more a cachet piece for designer houses to be able to say that their couture arm is still running...

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