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Has fantasy been lost in the new era of haute couture?

Haute couture now seems to put commerciality before the fantasy and magic to which we were accustomed. Let’s talk about it.

The dream of haute couture, read as such from the moment it came to represent fantasy from the top of the luxury pyramid, seems to put commerciality first in this new era. Is haute couture just another marketing catwalk?

Haute couture week materialized a number of exciting shows such as Daniel Roseberry for Schiaparelli or Glenn Martens for Jean Paul Gaultier. Still, most of the shows moved to the more commercial side, with more restrained couture garments that customers could wear beyond a very special occasion.

The design focus is now on tailoring rather than the magic or unbridled fantasy that haute couture used to project. So what does this mean for the industry?

It could be that the industry is regressing to that scenario before the rise of ready-to-wear in the 1960s when haute couture was much more practical and could be copied by retailers who made cheaper versions for their customers. When fashion houses also started selling ready-to-wear, haute couture came to represent that magic by luxury brands such as Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel or Galliano’s Dior.

That dream that Lagerfeld wove through haute couture now seems to be fading. Something we could see in Virginie Viard‘s latest collection for the luxury house with dresses and garments sheathed in classic archive tweeds, with piped seams and beading. Maria Grazia Chiuri, meanwhile, followed the same understated approach with Dior.

“The idea is that you can wear Dior at any time of the day,” Chiuri told BoF’s Robert Williams. “Today’s women go to the office, they take a train. They don’t have the same lifestyle as in the past. They want to go for a walk; for me that’s important because it means being free”.

Is haute couture reinventing itself?

As we are still in the pandemic era, it is very likely that former customers of haute couture as we knew it will now want to invest in more everyday wear. The big brands are precisely following this path and turning their fashion shows into sales platforms.

However, smaller brands, which hold fewer shows, have to make every moment count. In this sense, Roseberry’s three-dimensional approach at Schiaparelli is compelling enough to entice someone to visit Bergdorf Goodman to see her ready-to-wear collection, or to buy one of her surreal, covetable and wearable bags.

The exciting thing about this new era of haute couture would be the adaptation to cultural currents and social changes, as Pierpaolo Piccioli did for Valentino, in the wake of sculptural and cinematic designs that paid homage to its past while connecting with the present.

Via: BOF.

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