Top 30: Haute Couture

Above Abraham Pelham Haute Couture, Paris, 1999 by Jean-Marie Périer and below Didier Grumbach, president of the Chambre Syndicale

In 2011, only 11 couture houses remain in Paris. This is the smallest number since the founding of the French federation. Couture is fashion as art. It is an original work with a great investment of time and resources in order to express values of beauty. Because the fashion industry treats all the creations as commodities, it is also a product. The clients, from fourth generation Chanel wearers to Middle East nouveau riche, are just a tiny percentage of the world. Custom clothing will always be made, but the point of the French system is to raise the bar of the custom clothing to the highest standard, to encourage integrity of design and aesthetic value.

Left original Chanel couture presentation and in 2010, below Chanel couture

As impressive as the designs, the couture shows are also an enormous investment of time and resources. The events are the greatest beauty pageants in the world, a performance of luxury for a limited number. The art performances that call our contemporary culture into question cannot reach the extravagance of couture. But unlike an art performance, the display is not a form that is intended to be preserved. It is a momentary, seasonal form intended for reality.

Above and below Dior

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