Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Couture Club

Even the most unknowledgeable of eyes can recognise couture as the height of sartorial craftsmanship, with the HIGHEST of prices tag$$$. Take the awards season for example, any lay viewer could see Julianne Moore wearing Chanel Couture and think “boy how pretty, bet it cost a fuck load though”. To me (I like to think I am somewhat more knowledgeable when it comes to fashion), the essence of the Couture is very much like a gang or your average (clich├ęd) high school clique, oh this is me trying to be more relatable if you didn’t know. Something you may not know about Couture is that it is in fact a legal status. In France all things relating to fashion are governed by the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris and all official couture houses are defined within the Chambre syndicale de la Haute Couture. When I first read about this, I was rather taken back. I was so blindly unaware of how inextricably connected fashion was to French history. It is enshrined in legislation for christs sake! Henceforth, it is ILLEGAL for a collection (or house) to claim to “Haute Couture” without being and official member. Within the Chambre Syndicale there are 5 definitive categories:

1.Official Members (Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, etc) 2.Correspondent Members (Giorgio Armani, Versace, Valentino, Elie Saab) 3. Guest Members (Iris Van Herpen-she is the only one I had actually heard of) 4.Jewlery (Chanel Joaillerie, Dior Joaillerie) 5.Accessories (Loulou De La Falaise. Notable "former members" include: Balenciaga, Christian Lacroix (can someone please bring him back), Lanvin and Yves Saint Laurent.

(Maybe it’s just me but this SCREAMS feudal system)

Formalities aside, the point of this post was to hopefully alter the way you viewed Haute Couture. No longer look upon it and quiver at the flawless hand stitching, with impeccable embellishments. No longer be utterly blinded by the 6-7 figure price tags (the probably go higher). See Haute Couture as just like the Plastics (fashion people please don’t burn me at the stake). Not only will they hiss “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!” but also, they will serve with a cease and desist notice with love from the French government.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Set Dressing

It is interesting to think how much the structure of a runway show has developed in the past years. The whole cognitive process behind the execution of a show has come into a completely new light. Sets are no longer just the back runners to the clothes themselves, they are the integral element in creating the entire mood of the show, which then translates to the collection itself, and then trickles down into each individual garment when it ends up on the retail floor. Utilising sets is not a completely modern process. Early couturiers often utilised Paris' grand historical architecture to display clothes created with almost equal craftsmanship. 

The trend then continued into the 20th century where many designers would stage a depiction of their own, lets say, worlds (Alexander McQueen rings to mind). Now we are in the 21st century, the initial theory behind the use of sets has barely changed, however, the sheer scale has. Sets are no longer a runway, dim lighting and ethereal music. They are enormous constructions, taking months and weeks to build all for a 10 minute show. Two of the most popular contemporary examples would be Louis Vuitton's s/s '13 shows, where Marc Jacobs had models walking up and down multiple escalators onto an expansive runway and Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel s/s '13, where enormous white wind turbines adorned a geometric runway. Although these sets are getting more and more impressive (and expensive $$$), you have to question if perhaps it has become rather chauvinistic. Have runway shows falling trap to age old competition of "who has the bigger toys"?? Can we excuse Lagerfeld's less-then-orginal overworking of tweed because he has really big shiny sets with really popular musicians and really HUGE amounts of people? 

I've always seen the fashion industry as a repetitive linage, in the sense that everything old can become new again. Maybe thats what we need, we need some refinement. Its just become a patriarchal game of "who has the bigger rocket" and you would be lying if you couldn't see the clothing falling into a multi-million dollar mechanical abyss.