Bonnie J. Brown
There are book clubs, glee clubs, chess clubs, country clubs, men’s clubs, even math clubs. For every niche out there, there is a club to go along with it. When it comes to fashion, however, the club every fashion elitist wants entre into is the world of haute couture. Yet, unlike your regular run of the mill club, a driving interest isn’t the only thing you’re going to need to get in; you’ll also need a pocket book big enough to get you access to the front row of fashion. In order for you to be a â€œclub memberâ€ you have to be the owner of couture pieces, like those of Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel or of John Galliano for Christian Dior. With dresses costing millions of dollars and requiring an average of 150 hours of working the materials, haute couture has never been clothing, but wearable art.
It’s true, haute couture isn’t what it used to be. In its prime Christian Dior was Dior and Coco Chanel was Chanel. Couture employed more than 46,000 people and 100 fashion houses were considered to design haute couture. Today there are only 8 houses left and just one-tenth of as many people are employed. Couture began following an era when many people had to forgo luxuries, after World War II when designers, like Christian Dior, were able to offer women truly beautiful things again. While many people will never have the chance to wear couture, many â€œclub membersâ€ believe that couture is the only way to dress, yet some won’t even consider buying a piece if someone else is seen wearing it. And unlike other areas of fashion, couture fashion shows don’t necessarily want celebrities in their front row, since they usually aren’t the ones purchasing the pieces. Instead the â€œclub membersâ€ are the ones who have earned the privilege to sit front and center.
For all the cost and extravagance to put on a haute couture fashion show, Chanel is the only fashion house to make any money on couture. Rather than being a money maker, fashion houses consider couture to be purely inspiration for their ready-to-wear lines and advertising and marketing for their fashion house. Karl Lagerfeld, however, believes the second the show is over it’s done for and he is on to planning his next line. Yet, it is not over for the â€œclub membersâ€ who will set appointments and get the chance to try on the pieces they’re interested in purchasing – but what they purchase isn’t always what was seen on the runway. What makes couture truly fabulous for couture â€œclub membersâ€ is that they can have the dress altered to their specifications. As much as these pieces are coveted and the hours of workmanship that goes into haute couture, most of these works of art will only be worn a few times. Many pieces are then donated to museums and displayed on view for all to share and enjoy.
Christian LaCroix, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier and Chanel photos: style.com
Christian Dior photo: egodesign.com