Why The F*** Is Haute Couture So Expensive?
Haute couture meaning not only encapsulates fashion and style; but also history and artistry. And it gives us a glimpse of the future of fashion.
Each year, high-end luxury fashion houses walk models down the runway in clothes that are sumptuous, and accessorised with some of the most expensive jewellery. Or in this year's case--lavish quilts and silver glitter. The true high fashion or haute couture meaning is generally defined by lavish clothes and sets that take you on a never-before-seen journey.
In other words, a couture show is a showcase of the designer's most outrageous fantasy that isn't necessarily stuck to a budget. It is also the show of financial muscle and a conduit of high living.
It's safe to then say that the bi-annual couture shows--that only take place in Paris due to the rules by Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture--are quite spectacular. The made-to-measure dresses and ballgowns or interpretations of them could easily cost you as much as a condo. And only about 4,000 people across the globe have managed to become customers of haute couture outfits.
Which makes us millennials wonder: why would somebody spend a six figure on a skirt? What is the point of haute couture?
Let's take a simple example. At every auto exposition, manufacturers showcase luxury and high-end cars. All of which are meant to show off the expertise of the manufacturer.
Similarly, designers use couture to show off their techniques and intricate designs and generally favour ballgowns.
The selection of designers at haute couture is also carefully done. The entry of each of these luxury fashion houses or individual designers is strictly policed by the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris. And fashion houses are granted the title of haute couture directly by the French Ministry of Industry.
This means, no random person can just walk in to showcase their collection unless they've been cleared by the Chambre.
They also need to adhere to strict guidelines. If somebody wants to become a haute couture designer they must meet stringent rules and guidelines including having a Paris-based atelier with no less than 20 people on its staff roll. And the label must produce at least 25 clothing items per season.
In a way, haute couture showcase accords these designers the title of being the creme de la creme of the fashion world. It also makes them the richest and certainly most accomplished of the lot.
But given that most of the profit is made by accessories, bags and purses, some may question the existence of a couture show. There is a logical explanation.
The couture houses owe most of their profits to handbags, wallets, sunglasses and even perfumes. But they cannot let go of haute couture. And there is a perfectly good explanation for that.
Until a few years back, haute couture wasn't as accessible to the common man as it is now. We could only see gowns and dresses fresh off the couture runway--if they were worn by actresses during red carpet events. And even then, the exposure was limited.
But thanks to an upsurge of social media influencers who are often invited to such high-fashion events and the runways videos and images being Instagrammed or tweeted out, haute couture meaning has changed. The glamour of haute couture has acquired an even larger footprint.
And that's why it has become pivotal in sparking new trends. For instance, the oversized straw hat by Jacquemus that are #vacaygoals and are seen on so many young girls (check your Instagrams girls). Or, Chanel’s sea green design and Elie Saab’s structured gown that are #bridalgoals. And now similar designs have started flooding the high-streets.
So much so that most of them will soon appear in your closets.
Just as is explained--in the movie The Devil Wears Prada--in the scene where Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) unleashes her epitaph on couture to Andy (Anne Hathaway's character).
So before you go on to judge this unique (but rather expensive) form of art showcase, think about its uniqueness. Haute couture meaning not only encapsulates fashion and style; but also history (started in 1945) and artistry. And it gives us a glimpse into the future of fashion.
Whether that means silver glittery dresses or quilts turned into ballgowns, haute couture can take many forms.