Rocio ALONSO LOPEZ
Jan 22, 2023
Haute Couture in Paris, the highest expression of fashion, will begin this Monday with a calendar filled with renowned brands and twenty young promises in one of the most interesting seasons in recent years.
France’s two most famous fashion brands, Dior and Chanel, will host the event on Monday and Tuesday. Two Italian Haute Couture houses will be honored in the parades on Wednesday and Thursday: Valentino and Fendi. While Giorgio Armani will hold his gala show on Tuesday evening.
Even if the most awaited parade will undoubtedly be that of Haider Ackermann at Jean-Paul Gaultier, the fourth designer invited to the house to present a unique Haute Couture collection. His three predecessors, Chitose Abe, Glenn Martens and Olivier Rousteing, offered sensational shows. Ackermann, a designer of great talent, will also present his ideas inside the historic headquarters of Gaultier.
Although high fashion has fewer than 5,000 actual patrons by most estimates, its influence remains immense. Like its magnetic power. A gigantic caravan of limousines will tour Paris to attend the major fashion shows that will take place in historic places, such as that of Dior at the Rodin Museum.
The official calendar of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, the governing body of French Haute Couture, has a total of 29 brands, starting with Schiaparelli, Monday at 10 a.m. in Place Vendôme, and ending with Robert Wun, Thursday at 6 p.m.
As usual, a small group of ready-to-wear brands will ride the haute couture chariot and organize parades during the stay of editors and important personalities. Thus, the Mugler and Zadig & Voltaire houses will organize night shows on Thursday and Friday evenings.
However, they won’t be much compared to the big fashion houses, which often charge upwards of €100,000 for a handmade couture suit and many times that amount for a wedding dress. All Haute Couture shows traditionally end with a Marianne, or wedding dress.
Thousands of artisans, embroiderers, seamstresses, shoemakers and hatters help make Haute Couture fashion’s rarest moment a reality. It is difficult to quantify the exact economic impact, even if by adding the annual turnover of all the brands that parade during Haute Couture week, the figure exceeds 30,000 million euros.
Six brands of Italian origin, four Lebanese run by Elie Saab, two Indian and two Dutch, as well as a Chinese, a Moroccan, a Cameroonian and an American, testify to the internationalization of haute couture and designers.
But the most important will be the French Haute Couture houses, from the historic to the new generation, among which Alexandre Vauthier, Stéphane Rolland and Julie de Libran stand out.
Entry into the sacred calendar of Haute Couture is extremely complicated and requires the approval of a discreet committee of the Federation, whose composition is never officially revealed. Ultimately, the schedule is made up of full members, greatest hits matching members, and new guest members.
A side effect is that around 20 additional “couturiers” will independently organize small fashion shows and presentations all over the city: from Ukrainian brand Frolov to Indian brand Vaishali, to name but two.
However, the most requested shows will always be those of the big houses, which rightly consider Haute Couture as the laboratory of fashion, where technological advances, innovations in fabrics and the imagination of designers come together.
There are four major fashion capitals: London, Milan, New York and Paris. But only Paris has haute couture, another reason why it remains the number one fashion capital of the planet.
To learn more about French thinking and what drives Haute Couture, we caught up with Federation CEO Pascal Morand to hear his predictions for the future.
Fashion Network: How important is Haute Couture to fashion? And for France?
Pascal Morand: The legally protected status of Haute Couture is a uniquely French exception that promotes and protects creativity and uniqueness, know-how and innovation. It symbolizes an exceptional French tradition, which resonates throughout the world. This status implies a whole ecosystem of trades, education and training, where the arts and workshops occupy a central place. In addition to Haute Couture members, Haute Couture Week welcomes houses from all over the world: corresponding members and guest members selected each season by the committee of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, led by its president Sidney Toledano. .
FNW: What is the value of haute couture for Paris or for the French economy?
PM: The economic power of Haute Couture is very important. It stimulates the imagination while being a beacon for the entire fashion economy. The Haute Couture market was recently valued at $11.5 billion in 2021, with a forecast of $13.5 billion in 2028. Haute Couture employs directly, or indirectly with associated crafts, several thousands of people in France. Beyond these figures, the qualitative economic power of Haute Couture is very significant, as evidenced by the Media Impact Value (VIM) of Haute Couture Week, which reached 120 million euros in July 2022. It represents, indeed, a driving and influential force for creative ready-to-wear and beyond. It embodies the role of Paris as the world capital of fashion, know-how and creativity.
FNW: Many of the big fashion houses, like Dior or Chanel, are flourishing. Why has it been more difficult for a new generation to emerge?
PM: The arrival of new guest members in recent years, such as Yuima Nakazato, Imane Ayissi, Julie de Libran, Maison Sara Chraibi, Gaurav Gupta and Robert Wun, marks the rise of a new generation. Haute Couture acts like a magnet that reinforces its power. Even so, building a fashion house is quite a challenge. A young designer may decide to create bespoke clothing. But being selected as a guest member in the official calendar requires being very creative and innovative, and also working with artisans and workshops.
FNW: What type of support does the Federation or the French government offer to emerging fashion designers?
PM: The Federation strongly supports emerging fashion designers through its ambitious Emerging Brands Initiative. In addition, the Federation benefits from the support of the DEFI to finance shows by young creators.
FNW: For many years, Pierre Bergé predicted that Haute Couture was going to die, but this season there are four very busy show days. In your opinion, what is this renaissance of Haute Couture due to?
PM: We have entered a new era where creativity, craftsmanship, uniqueness and personalization are sought after in all sectors of the economy and society. Haute Couture is the embodiment of this profound movement which is reinforced by the need to balance the diffusion of digitization with sensory and physical emotion. In this sense, Haute Couture is at the forefront of modernity.
FNW: What have you done to reduce the carbon footprint of Haute Couture?
PM: At Haute Couture, each garment is designed and manufactured with sustainability in mind at every step. The intelligence of the hand, combined with the uniqueness and timeless value of Haute Couture, symbolizes the essence of sustainability.
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