Tuesday, October 4, 2022

 Paris Haute Couture Week: Clothes for the 1%, thrills for everyone else

For the super rich, couture fashion is a chance to indulge, to splurge, to flex. For the rest of the world, it’s an opportunity to watch the spectacle, escape into another world and ogle at the excess of it all.

his week in Paris, a series of designer collections featuring handcrafted, one-of-a-kind, eye-wateringly expensive high fashion was once again unveiled during the city’s biannual Haute Couture Week.

Closer to collectible art than the clothing most regular people own, couture fashion is exclusive by definition, with each bespoke garment made for one supremely wealthy client.

For the 1%, couture fashion is a chance to indulge, to splurge, to flex, to enshrine, even. (Some serious couture collectors wouldn’t dream of actually wearing the garments they purchase — they simply want to own a piece of fashion history.)

Meanwhile couture is a chance for a fashion houses to intimately connect with their top clients while showcasing their creative directors’ boldest visions and the skills of their design teams. A couture collection is also about strengthening a brand; it’s often the purest expression of a label’s values. A manifesto of sorts. And it’s a marketing opportunity: A splashy couture collection will boost a brand’s cultural cachet, making people want to buy into it, even if the entry point is a bottle of perfume.

So what’s in it for everyone else? Why care about clothes that aren’t made for you?

Because it’s thrilling to watch the spectacle, to escape into another world and ogle at the excess of it all. Be it the conversation-driving gowns that end up at the Met Gala or the Oscars’ red carpet, or the theatrical shows — now almost always simultaneously broadcast online — couture has crept into culture because it’s entertaining and because there’s an element of storytelling to it. And we’re all invited to enjoy that.

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