Villagers With Pitchforks

The flaming torches were delayed in transit, sorry.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Put a stake through it , Yves

An article in the Guardian asks:

Is this the end for the kings and queens of haute couture?

I, for one, certainly hope so.

When Yves Saint Laurent retired his business partner, Pierre Berge, predicted that haute couture, the most expensive and exclusive tier of fashion, where dresses are handmade and cost upwards of £10,000, would die without him. His words, dismissed at the time as sour grapes, now seem prophetic.

In this democratic era, haute couture is nothing more than an archaic throwback to the excesses of Napoleonic times. The author proves my point for me:

Old-fashioned is perhaps the politest way to describe haute couture. Many prefer archaic.

Announcing his decision to quit, the designer Emanuel Ungaro, a great couturier who trained under Cristobal Balenciaga, declared that haute couture "no longer answers, as before, to the tastes of contemporary women".

Price tags are at least 10 times that of Bond Street designer labels; each piece requires a number of fittings and takes several months to make. No change to traditional dressmaking methods is countenanced - zips, for example, are banned. There are, at a generous estimate, only 300 women in the world who buy couture clothes, and few of those are young.

But wait! There may be a ray of hope for these elitist snobs:

Donald Potard, president of Jean-Paul Gaultier, has tentatively suggested a way to modernise and so rescue haute couture. Mr Potard has floated the idea of a halfway house between couture and ready-to-wear - outfits would be displayed in stores (which haute couture is not) but then be made to order, albeit with one fitting rather than three or four.

A similar "hybrid" idea is being considered at the house of Emanuel Ungaro.

This is not a solution that will please the purists but it may be the only way to keep couture alive.

Put a stake through it, Yves.

And you, Jess Cartner-Morley, fashion editor of the Guardian: Learn something useful. You're going to need a real skill.

Maybe golf will be next.


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