Monday, February 9, 2009

The Old Masters in Paris Still Alive in spite of global recession

By Benedict Singh

The news today is giving out a troublesome report " it says that haute couture is vanishing. Majority thinks this way because of the current economic crisis, and it scares people who are still practicing this fashion style.

Haute couture is a small world of feather makers, dyers, and embroiderers serving the imagination of a few couturiers. And in the fashion industry, it is believed that Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world since it gave birth to big fashion houses such as Chanel, Yves Saint Lauren, and Dior.

The Chanel label

When Chanel announced the recent layoff of its 200 temporary employees, the whole world was shocked. The news fell like a bombshell since this manufacturer of French luxury goods worldwide is supposed to be as secure and snug as a Cartier diamond in a box.

Reports of the layoffs originally came from the trade unions. Finally it was confirmed by the Wertheimer family who own Chanel. The Wertheimer family typically never speek about their business publicly, and added to the shock of the layoffs.

Karl Lagerfield, who is a respected designer and creator of ready-to-wear and haute couture collections from Chanel, was asked if the existing global recession has had any negative effects on the forthcoming Spring couture season. His reply was simply only on the conversation.

He said that there is always a customer for extravagance whether it is the daughter and wife of an Russian Oligarch or a Hollywood actress dreaming of the perfect haute couture wedding dress. Chanel recent collection includes white wool jackets (narrow, squared-off shoulders) worn with the new A-line skirt which gives a split-front illusion.


Ten years ago, Yves Saint Laurent previous chairman described haute coutures contemporary problem calling it the opposite of business. He said that these days, people find it hard to grasp the real value of an elegant couture show, which is to create one-of-a-kind, exquisite clothes using various needle crafts.

Christian Dior

Diors chief executive, Sidney Toledano, is a bit more positive. He said that their house received an increase in haute couture customers for the past 2 years. The numbers may be relatively small, but it is still an increase. We just have to give more sense of work in what we do, he concluded.

John Galliano, the design director of Dior, recently showed off his latest collection which had a palette or pinks and pale blues with an odd slash of scarlet and a lot of off-white. The rippling skirts and jackets are designed to flatter the waist and face, especially when worn with a pair of trousers or softer skirts. The designer also showed off swaged ball gowns, satin slim cocktail dresses that have open necklines, half-hidden corset, and a dollop of draping.

Fashion forecast fears that a decade from today, it will be surprising if there are still more than 2-3 houses producing haute couture collections twice every year. The skilled labor cost to make a suit or dress entirely by a workers hand will be a major factor in its demise. But the fashion world hopes that these predictions will not come true, and the old masters in Paris will still stay alive (and even thrive) in spite of the economic crisis. - 16651

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