A Counter Argument to The End of “Haute Couture?”

I am quoting Glenda Bailey, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar offering a compelling economic argument for the institution’s importance:

“When it comes to couture, in addition to the craftsmanship, which we are in danger of losing, we have to think of the sheer amount of jobs it sustains. People say we should be saving, but actually we should encourage the people who have the means to spend. Too many people think it’s frivolous, but couture generates huge amounts of income.”

I have worked many years in several Parisian Fashion Houses (Louis Féraud, Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy who was designed by Alexander McQueen at the time) and I have to say that Couture is not dead. Established fashion designers made a directional switch as they understood the importance of having a R&D department for their other lines of products (look at Jean Paul Gaultier who came in to Couture in 1997 and more recently Giorgio Armani in 2005).

These changes generate exposure and profits through the licenses of the name, but for a young designer who is trying to survive on the sale of its Couture Collection, it is almost impossible. Even the most established Couturiers encounter problems that have nothing to do with the true clients (which represent fewer  than 200 on the planet. I am not talking about celebrities who the dresses are lent to for the red carpet event, but people who actually are paying for their dresses).

The biggest problem is who are the financial backers and what are their intentions… Look at what recently happened to Christian Lacroix (one of the most talented  designers living today). He was a victim of those backers who have only one interest:

Short term dividends.

But I guess it is the same problematic in every business…

Irina Lazareanu wearing Christian Lacroix Haute Couture © Benjamin Kanarek


About Frederique Renaut
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Born in Paris, France, Fashion & Beauty Director for benjaminkanarekblog.com Frédérique Renaut wears 2 hats: 1/ Consultant in Communication for the Luxury Industry specialized in International Communication, Media & Advertising, 2/ Creative Direction, Video Direction for Fashion and Beauty shoots for publications like VOGUE & Harper's BAZAAR. She has also worked as an International Executive Manager for major cosmetics brands (Jean-Paul Gaultier, Issey Miyake and Narciso Rodriguez fragrances) and Couture Houses (Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Féraud & Givenchy by Alexander McQueen).
  • I have not seen the documentary “The Last Emperor” yet, but I will try to find it and then share my impressions about it in a new post. Thanks for your input Eric

  • Eric

    Interesting comments!

    Speaking of backers and short term interests, I’m immediately reminded of the wonderful documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor (see it as soon as possible if you haven’t already). At least in the present economic system, I suppose there’s an inevitable tension between fashion artistry and making money. However, there’s a difference between making enough money and the increasingly popular ethos of making as much as possible regardless of other values. After Lacroix, who’s next?

  • That is a very interesting counter point Freddy. Greatly appreciate the article…

    Ben 🙂