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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-06-21 07:48:38




As news breaks that Vetements
is to show at Paris Couture
Week, it’s official that couture
– a world once slammed for
being elitist and archaic – is
officially happening.  (Or should
we say hippening?) Sarah Ann
O’Hegarty examines how it’s
gotten its groove back.


CHRISTIAN DIOR SPRING 16 COUTURE It started with the Saint Laurent Paris ready-to-wear autumn winter 16 show. Otherwise known
as the moment that the French fashion house took to its DeLorean and hopped, skipped and
The line up at Dior jumped back to the days of Yves Saint Laurent – that is, the man, his iconic couture atelier, and a
sensibility that fundamentally shaped the latter half of 20th-century fashion.
Gone were the grunge slip dresses, biker boots and Courtney Love tiaras that had integrated
Saint Laurent Paris’ LA-meets-Left-Bank DNA under its new designer Hedi Slimane. No more were
the army of mini Cobain-alikes, full of nineties sass and doused in heroine chic as if they were a teen
of the time bathing in Charlie Red. These were replaced by an altogether new woman: She was strong,
she was high-octane, she was razor sharp and she was more savoir faire than ready-to-wear.
On the eve of the show, talk that the brand had in fact re-instated its couture atelier, disbanded by
Tom Ford in the noughties, was rife. Rumours formed fact the moment the Stevie Nicks soundtrack
and rock and roll theatrics the house has become synonymous with were ditched. In fact there was no
music at all; instead the show was compèred by French narrator, Bénédicte de Ginestous, who did just
that at every show for the illustrious atelier from 1977 until 2002. Monsieur Saint Laurent’s final
catwalk foray that year, before his death in 2008, was couture; Hedi Slimane’s final show for the brand






(he soon announced his departure in the following “Will the world of couture told at the beginning of this year. “It’s
weeks) was an homage to such couture. And, most inject some much needed interesting that there are long conversations going
poignantly, its legacy today. zhuzh into mainstream on within the retail world about people being able
to buy in-season, and that’s essentially what couture
Needless to say opinion was divided. ‘Have

designers finally expired everything else to the point fashion, and save it from has been doing all along.”
of ‘done’ (call it: ‘This collection was really inspired a fate worse than passé?” Deacon’s point, referring to the fact that haute
by the 1970s’ overload) that they now need to mine
couture pieces are ready to shop within two to three

the world of couture for fresh inspiration?’‘Nonsense. months of a show taking place, a definite one-up

If the Zara alternative to the designer look is your only option, then the compared to the six months it takes with ready-to-wear, is shrewd. What’s

couture version may as well be from Mars.’ Then came the news that too- more, couture is one of a kind which, today, is pretty much a Holy Grail.

cool-for-you French fashion collective Vetements is to show at this month’s (Just ask the fash-pack who are now referring to it as ‘one-offmanship’.)

July Couture shows. And – haute diggity! – call it a comeback. Plus, its non-mass-produced status certainly resonates with the anti-fast

Couture, demi-couture (a happy medium between the former and ready- fashion movement ringing in our ears. In fact, when it comes to playing the

to-wear), savior faire, or, to take an Irish mammy slant, ready-to-wear with eco-card, Karl Lagerfeld has already beat us to the punchline. Spring’s Chanel

notions, and a price tag that’s a down-payment on a house. No matter what couture offering was a bucolic earth song: Accessories were bee-inspired,

the moniker, the time-honoured traditions of such a precise yet powerful the stage was an eco-friendly house complete with lily pool and there were

microcosm of society are undoubtedly grappling to be contextualised in an even reports of staged midge flies swarming around the FROW. Shit just

Instagram-worthy frame. This news however, to talk in Facebook speak, got real.

changes everything.Will the world of couture inject some much needed zhuzh In 1966 Yves Saint Laurent himself declared that couture is dead. It didn’t

into mainstream fashion, and save it from a fate worse than passé? While die. And in this era of live-fast and die-quickly fashion it’s no wonder we’re

Vetements may not be ditching ready-to-wear altogether, it’s been confirmed entirely craving something that celebrates quality, craftsmanship and an

the brand has been selected to host its mainline collection at Couture Week, unprecedented uniqueness. If, as some feel, couture is an institution of worth

and there will even be a showing of some‘haute-inspired pieces’. Hello, couture that, just like a heritage building, should be put on preservation order, then

for a whole new market. But why are we tuning in now? this is a good way to keep the traditions of craftsmanship alive in a

London designer Giles Deacon, who is set to launch his inaugural couture contemporary way; not so much a goodbye to couture, just a leading of the

collection at the autumn couture shows this month, sees it as an opportunity, way for couture in its modern guise. Either way, it’s an interesting ride. Even

rather than an obsolescent tradition.“It’s a definite growth area for us,” he if I, for one, won’t be picking up the tab.



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