Our Fash­ion & Style Di­rec­tor ru­mi­nates on the role haute cou­ture in fash­ion to­day.

Marie Claire (Malaysia) - - Fashion - Fash­ion & Style Di­rec­tor AZZA ARIF

Ilove cou­ture. I love ev­ery in­tri­cate de­tail, ev­ery ex­quis­ite tech­nique, ev­ery swish of lux­u­ri­ous fab­rics, ev­ery speck of gold dust and se­quins that are op­u­lent enough for a queen. It’s cliché to say that the pur­pose of haute cou­ture is ‘to make a wo­man dream’, but I do fall vic­tim to fall­ing head first into a spell, lust­ing after a se­lec­tion of cou­ture pieces I knew very well were out of my reach (fi­nan­cially). A lit­tle while later, I snap out of that ‘dream’ of own­ing some­thing that com­mer­cially di­vides the very rich from the rest of us.

What dis­tin­guishes haute cou­ture from the RTW lines are the spe­cial tech­niques, and the ap­pli­ca­tion of hand­crafted skills such as pleat­ing, hand bead­ing and drap­ing, and of course, the ex­clu­sive VIP treat­ment one would ex­pe­ri­ence at an ate­lier. It takes unimag­in­able time (and not to men­tion ex­pense) for designers to stage an haute cou­ture show. But with cou­ture and ready-to-wear in­ter­min­gling in re­cent sea­sons, it raises a ques­tion of what function does cou­ture actually serve? After all, don’t most fash­ion houses make their prof­its from their more af­ford­able ready-to-wear?

In the age of so­cial me­dia, where the most in­sta­gram-wor­thy im­ages are posted and re­grammed around the world, the drama as well as all the glitz and glam­our cre­ated by cou­ture shows make an even greater im­pact on the dig­i­tal plat­form, mak­ing them more likely to spark interest from a wider au­di­ence, and also make its mark in set­ting trends. The rise of tech-savvy, su­per-rich cus­tomers from all over the world, each need­ing a taste of some­thing ex­clu­sive that they can flaunt, has def­i­nitely caused a growth in the cou­ture mar­ket, show­ing us that the point of cou­ture re­mains the same, even as it in­ter­min­gles with ready-to-wear: it is all about ex­clu­siv­ity. Even if you want ev­ery­thing your favourite in­flu­encer is wear­ing from head-to-toe, I still feel that on some days, hav­ing some­thing catered just for you is even bet­ter. And in to­day’s ev­ery­thing-is-in­sta­gram­able cul­ture, hav­ing some­thing as in­tri­cate, as beau­ti­ful, and as dreamy as cou­ture is ex­tremely important.

Elie Saab


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