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Haute Couture Making Headlines

By Sharmin Musca on August 15, 2013 in Arts

Photo: Sharmin Musca

Photo: Sharmin Musca

Where do the world’s richest heiresses, self-made billionairesses, Jamaican songstresses (Rihanna) and sour-face actresses (Kristen Stewart) go in July? Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris, of course. Where else could they pick up the latest one-of-a-kind outfits, spending hundreds of thousands a pop?

Stalking garments is a blood sport at Haute Couture Fashion Week, as each piece shown by the exclusive couture fashion houses can be purchased by only one client (to prevent these wealthy women from turning up to a charity ball in identical couture dresses, darling).

With only 4000 clients worldwide, couture is the very antithesis of mass-production. Once it was the wealthy women of Europe and the USA in attendance, but nowadays these filthy rich females hail from Russia, South East Asia and the Middle East, reflecting changes in the global economy.

Being an ‘official’ couture fashion house (like Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Armani) may define a brand, but this comes at great financial cost – it’s no secret they run at a loss. Despite the exorbitant price tags, hand-sewn, couture pieces take hundreds of hours to create. Simple suits cost tens of thousands of dollars, while ornate gowns easily run into the hundreds of thousands. Designers spare no expense to satisfy their fickle couture clients, flying teams of seamstresses to their homes for personal fittings.

While some argue that haute couture is archaic and frivolous, recent sales have risen. Clients are increasingly younger, with girls as young as 12 (oh, and Suri Cruise and Harper Beckham) being introduced to couture as part of a wealthy family culture.

Back in the day, couture clients travelled to Paris to order their wardrobe, submitted to several fittings and waited months for their garments. The privilege of wearing something unique, beautifully crafted and with a perfect fit was considered worth the wait. Today, the market is evolving, as the new generation wants their orders more quickly. There are some things that you shouldn’t hurry in this age of instant gratification, but time is the modern world’s luxury.

On the streets this month I found:

Name: Neda
Lives: Woollahra
Occupation: Journalist
Fave Item This Season: Brocade skinny jeans.
Street Style: Neda combines a striking Zara jacket with boots from Wanted, a bag from Seed and Witchery sunnies.

Name: Gill
Lives: Fairlight
Occupation: Manager
Fave Item This Season: A fur coat by Minty Meets Munt.
Street Style: Gill says she’s a one label kind of girl. She wears a shift dress and ankle boots by Minty Meets Munt. Her jewellery is from Garland Row and her sunglasses are Le Specs.