The Fashion Statement: Paris Couture Pares Back
The haute couture shows in Paris are in full swing, but rather than enjoy the spectacle, fashion watchers have the nagging suspicion they are witnessing the end of an era.
Sure, clothing that can cost as much as a house, have little relevance in today's world-only a handful of women in the world can afford the custom-made pieces. And fashion houses like Jean Paul Gaultier, pictured above, create the looks mostly for press and to promote brand awareness and maintain an image. (Dita Von Teese guest strutted in black wire and stockings.) But the Great Recession has sped up the decline of an institution of fashion, the highest level a designer can achieve, the crème de la crème of the biz. It's sad!
Signs of decline are all there. Shows have been reduced to six spanning three days. Sets have been pared back. Givenchy eschewed a show altogether to stage "presentations," or museum like display on dress forms-a sure sign of financial conservatism.
"Why not just hang a sign on the door that says, 'Shut?'" wrote Cathy Horyn yesterday in The New York Times.
Still, there were victories to be had. The house of Valentino, struggling to find its footing after Valentino Garavani retired in 2008, seemed to achieve a kind of balance. This was the best couture show yet for designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli and little wonder. Sources say vans have seen going back and forth from Garavani's mansions to the house's headquarters suggesting the master had more than a hand in the collection. Still, one wonders whether Garavani would have produced clothes that speak to Valentino's newest target customer: the entry-level consumer. Or, the young.
Elie Saab, the Lebanese designer, kept his eye on the ball-dressing celebrities on the red-carpet, that is. To that end, gown after flowing gown glided down the runway, one of the prettiest of which is pictured above.
Chanel delivered a subdued collection save for the finale that brought to mind a past Alexander McQueen collection inspired by The Ballet Russes. Blue and white brocades with sharp shoulders and slim arms brimmed with gold embroidery.
Finally, Christian Dior by John Galliano literally resembled a field of poppies with hats and dresses resembling flower buds in a field. Surely, the colors were all there-yellow, purples, blue, fuchsia and green. It was a welcome lighter note and one that spoke to future optimism.