Fashion’s Grand Affair

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Chanel Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015-2016 finale look

Twice a year, the pinnacle of fashion spectacles takes place across the pond for a cluster of elite ladies and select members of the press to gander the latest in slow fashion, otherwise called haute couture. The literal translation of this French phrase is “high sewing,” and each fashion house presents painstakingly detailed dressmaking techniques with lavish fabrications and directional designs to woo prospective clients. It takes minions of skilled sewers to fit and sculpt and pin and fit again, until the garment fits like a glove—first in muslin (fabric), and then in the final materials. Hand-embellishments, embroidery or other accouterments are sometimes used to accent the exceptional, custom garment—more work-of-art than fashion.

The week is like the Super Bowl, the Olympics and the Tour de France (of fashion), all rolled into one—designers unleash their most creative and skilled ideas at theatrically staged presentations. Because of strict guidelines put forth by the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris, the official governing body, very few design houses are part of this rarified event. Participating designers adopt time-honored traditions and artisanal methods, put into place in mid-19th Century France.

Although the runway is the main event, dinners and soirees are scattered throughout the week to get clients in the spending state-of-mind, and it creates a celebratory atmosphere. Designers work with clients individually, and relationships run deep, because buyers have the potential to return each season. It is the ultimate in a personalized approach to a wardrobe refresh. Gowns from the collections also grace Hollywood’s Red Carpet on A-list stars like Julianne Moore, Scarlett Johansson and Cate Blanchett—all part of the Couture Club.

Purchasing a haute couture custom outfit is akin to buying a piece of French history. It’s a hell of a fashion fête, and one that Haute Living can attest is truly worth the wait.

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Stephane Rolland’s finale Spring/Summer 2015 Photograph by Iris Brosch