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Couture Shaping Up to a New Mood



{mosimage}Take Christian Dior for example, with John Galliano at the reins those creative couture juices flow into overdrive. His latest presentation for Dior was a visual feast of 10 different sections depicting the entire history of the long established fashion house. From half finished toiles to represent Dior’s atelier to the industries hottest models playing Hollywood legends a la Ava Gardner and Rita Hayworth, Galliano takes showmanship to a whole new level. Staged as an elaborate fashion shoot Galliano understands the power of the image, press ready photographs equals’ great publicity and in turn sets those Dior cash tills a ringing.



{mosimage}While, to most of us, couture is absurd and ridiculously expensive it does seem to be going through some kind of transitional period. Demi-couture is on the rise with many ready-to-wear designers. Take the highly influential Miuccia Prada for instance fed-up of being ripped-off and copied, Prada has raised the game by introducing couture elements into her Autumn/Winter 2005/06 collection. Her look comprised of structured separates, waist-defining coats and voluminous blousons, beautifully cut in quality fabrics – all the more difficult to copy.



Prada’s not the only one embracing the new couture mood. Alexander McQueen’s Savile Row tailoring twinned with Parisian couture skills makes for some precise scissor work. From evening gowns to nipped waist pencil skirts its hard to see where couture ends and ready-to-wear begins. Couture extras such as hand-finished detailing and alteration services now apply to many ready-to-wear lines with hiked up prices to boot.



{mosimage}In an interview with Colin McDowell for www.showstudio.com John Galliano discussed couture today: “Everyone’s saying today that couture is dead, it’s gone and all the rest of it, with the retirement of Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent. That I have to agree, that couture, as that generation knew it is dead, it is gone. However, while all those know-alls have been saying that… in a kind of avant garde way, this new couture has been happening, which has really started as well with people like Mr Arnault putting younger designers in these houses, or Jean Paul Gaultier who started a couture line. Thierry Mugler was even mixing couture and prêt-a-porter together, so it does have relevance today. But it’s changed, I mean as well as dressing some of the most beautiful and wonderful women in the world, it’s caught up with our generation – it is the world of MTV of the VH1 awards etc… You know, TV not just newsprint, and internet. So it’s really important to be aware of that.”



{mosimage}The hook with couture is the exclusivity and with ready-to-wear prices dramatically on the increase the purchase of a couture gown may not be as daunting as it once was. The debate regarding the future of couture rages on – while some see demi-couture as the way forward others believe that a new wave of young couturiers will gain great appeal with well heeled customers looking for something unique.



Back at the latest round of couture shows it was good to see a new name on the block – Adam Jones. A former graduate of Brighton University, Jones, moved to Paris several years ago and has kept busy designing knitwear for Dior. Launching his very first solo collection Jones introduced his fine knitwear skills combined with a Native American vibe.



{mosimage}Another label new to the couture scene, bar a previous thrown-together fling three years ago, was the Imitation of Christ. Staged outdoors models paraded in light-as-air chiffon dresses delicately hand-painted with flowers. Armani Prive showed his second couture collection, his designs are all about ‘less is more’ and his beautifully crafted elegant eveningwear is already receiving orders from the red-carpet brigade.



{mosimage}Along with Dior other couture regulars – Christian Lacroix, Chanel, Elie Saab, Valentino, Jean Paul Gaultier and newcomer Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy all showed exquisite collections that generally had a classic couture feel. Over at Anne Valérie Hash the mood was extremely feminine and yet very contemporary. Thanks to her gift of layering, draping and bunching Anne Valérie creates couture for fashion forward women and maybe it’s this diversification that will redefine the future of couture.






By JoJo Iles





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