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