With Chanel struggling to meet demand, and profits increasing seven fold at Dior, it’s safe to say that couture is back in business.
Recently legendary fashion critic, Colin McDowell questioned whether haute couture was poised for reinvention or irrelevance. A debate that was quickly settled when Karl Lagerfeld spoke: “Couture is not dead,” the designer confirmed at the shows last month.
“Don’t ask me where the money comes from. As long as they spend it and make everybody work, everything is okay with me.” One thing is for sure, there’s a superstrata of exceptionally rich emerging, and their not afraid to flash the cash. But in the middle of a global economic crisis, who can afford to snap up a £70,000 designer price tag like their shopping in Zara?
The answer hails mostly from the Middle East, then markets such as China, Brazil and Russia. In fact this new breed of couture buyer is so wealthy, their spare change buys up to 30 dresses at a time, fueling a boom unprecedented in couture since the 1950s.
The Sunday Times head of fashion, Claudia Croft explained the movement in the Style supplement this weekend: “For years couture was considered a lost leader, a lavish marketing exercise designed to sell lipsticks and perfume, and its dwindling clientele seemed ever more irrelevant. But the spending power of the new superrich is changing all that and bringing the client sharply back into focus.”
Couturiers all over Paris are back to doing what they do best, and long may their tills ring.