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The Couture Game

Posted in fashion, and Style & Travel

valentinocouture12The older I get, the more many of my romanticized beliefs seem to fall over the wayside, so I am not sure I could ever believe in fate. But I love the concept of synchronicity, of things falling into spectacular and unexpected order, when we least expect it.

Take heart, I am not aiming for any grand philosophical matters today, I just want to bring up haute couture. The Paris fashion shows came to a close last week and the fashion wagon has moved on to its next chaos-filled destination –  those, like me, who do not have any affiliation with the fashion industry are left dreaming (or criticizing) over catwalk shots beaming from  Vogue’s website.

Is couture even relevant, especially at a time of such economic crisis, or does it inhabit a world onto its own, the rarefied world of the 1% who can afford price tags starting at $20,000? As I was pondering this question – in the meantime, designers at Zara were busy copying and paring down the looks that paraded on the catwalk – a blog post by Jackie Mellon landed in my inbox. Serendipity.

Jackie is a fashion designer and teacher at a fashion school in New York and knows a thing or two about fashion and couture. Her little rant on haute couture – written for those students who aspire to slip through that impossibly narrow entrance – focusses on what it takes to create a couture item and why those ethereal gowns that we admire for afar are worth ever pretty penny.

In Jackie’s words: “Haute Couture: a term that describes a tradition of “high sewing” originating from the Parisian ateliers first ascribed to the designer, Charles Frederick Worth, in the mid nineteenth century, refers to custom made, custom fit garments using the most exquisite materials and of such superior  craftsmanship that the skilled individuals who create, bead and embellish these pieces of artistry are reduced to the title Petites Mains (Little Hands).”

At the heart of every single one of those custom gowns are a tribe of (mostly) women who, for decades, have been sewing for the same fashion house, with “their little hands”, precious fabrics, lace and beading to a level of perfection unimaginable (unless you have ever tried one of those dresses yourself).

Haute couture is art. And priced accordingly.

These days, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, who have taken over Valentino, are two of C&S’s favorite dreamers and creators of haute couture around.

On occasion, sofagirl and I like to play the grown-up version of the “if you had to choose between John Lennon and Mick Jagger, who would you sleep with” of yore, so I was not at all surprised when, lying in bed a few nights ago, I received this e-mail:

“TASK FOR THE DAY

It’s the awards season and our blog has been turned into a film.  We are going to:

– The Emmys

– The Oscars

– The Grammys

– A dinner in our honour given by Amazon who are selling hundreds of thousands of copies of our book

Maria Grazia and Pierpaolo call us and offer to dress us for each event. They will tailor the dresses to suit us.

What do you choose?”

I didn’t even wait for the morning to answer. I quickly went through the collection I had already looked at a number of times and put in my submissions. She quickly replied with hers.

And then I went off to sleep dreaming of wearing a Valentino gown, to some glitzy event that could not possibly feature in my dreary social calendar.

sofagirl’s choices:

 

Emmy's - Grey background with blue print
Emmys – Grey background with blue print
Oscars - Dark green or black
Oscars – Dark green or black
Lunch - with a cashmere coat
Lunch – with a cashmere coat
Grammys - Dark blue
Grammys – Dark blue

And here are mine:

Emmys
Emmys
Oscars
Oscars
Grammys - Dark red
Grammys – Dark red
Lunch
Lunch

And, for the record, I would pick Lennon. We never liked the same men.

Jackie Mellon has written a highly entertaining nove titled Silk for the Feed Dogs, set in the international fashion world. Perfect for a cold Winter afternoon or a lazy Summer one. I am half way through it and having a blast.

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10 Comments

  1. Ah…if not for the couture designers, the fashions would not trickle down to the pattern makers and those who copy the designs for the working classes.
    My mother was an amazing seamstress and we spent hours pouring over the Vogue patterns when I was in high school and college. There is something just so magical about entering a room dressed in that sort of fashion. I would never be mistaken for a Vogue model, but I was tall and slender and loved wearing those dresses.Bliss.

    February 3, 2014
    |Reply
    • How lucky! I always wanted a mom who could sew but she is just like me, barely able to sew buttons!

      February 3, 2014
      |Reply
      • Unfortunately, the skill skipped my generation.

        February 3, 2014
        |Reply
  2. Aaah girls, now you’ve got me dreaming too! Good post.

    February 3, 2014
    |Reply
  3. Great post and very good taste shown in men and couture!!

    February 3, 2014
    |Reply
  4. Sweetie darlings! (listen if we are wearing those dresses we talk like that!) Thank you for your shout out. What a joy! Great minds think alike and we WILL be fighting over those Valentino frocks coming up to those award ceremonies. You should know I have a firm grip and was on the tug of war team at school!
    PS Glad you’re enjoying reading Silk 🙂

    February 2, 2014
    |Reply
    • Don’t fret. Maria Grazia and Pierpaolo would be gracious enough to design modifications for each of us. And, in a few years, who knows?, maybe our very own gowns.
      Here’s to dreaming!

      February 3, 2014
      |Reply
  5. silvia
    silvia

    Ab fab, I can see sofagirl wearing the Oscar gown in black and camparigirl wearing the Grammys one, the dark red version.
    I totally agree, haute couture needs craftsmanship and talent. That’s why it is so expensive like a masterpiece.

    February 2, 2014
    |Reply
      • silvia
        silvia

        I’d have a hard time making up my mind between yours’ Oscars and sofagirl’s Grammys!

        February 4, 2014
        |Reply

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