Fashion Bytes — The Return of Haute Couture

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As many already know, last week was the week for Paris haute couture fashion. The week opened not only with the surprising news that Versace was returning to haute couture after an eight-year absence, but also that apparently couture sales are up — in some cases by 50%. The Guardian piece reporting this second occurance pointed out that this is more due to the growing schism between the very rich and, well, the rest of us, than due to any increase in investment dressing due to hard times.

There were the usual warring opinions as to the clothes shown, none more controversial than Dior with the spectre of John Galliano not-so-subtly haunting every report. The Wall Street Journal was bored by Bill Gaytten’s looking to the archives for his collection, which was clearly inspired by the New Look, while the New York Times was pleased with the general ‘less is more’ feel of the collection, but lamenting the lack of a designer with true ‘imagination’.

It was the Financial Times who had the most scathing reports, remarking that all the collections were too ‘weighed down by history’.

Holly Brubach commented in 1992 that couture ‘which was once the vanguard of fashion, now finds itself bringing up the rear’. It seems that twenty years later, the journalists and critics are still largely disappointed by what they are seeing on the runway. So why have sales increased? Is this an example of a complete disconnect between those covering the shows as journalists and those watching them as consumers?

What are your opinions about the recent haute couture week? Do you think that the rise in sales is at all connected to the return to the archives and the designers’ taking inspiration from couture’s past? Are the vintage-inspired designs proof of a demand within society for a return to glamour and elegance? Do you think couture still has relevance in society and in history of dress if it is no longer dictating what people wear every day? What are your thoughts on the Guardian’s suggestion that the rise in couture sales is proof of the widening of the economic gap? Did any of you see the pieces first hand?

Please share your thoughts.

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