This year’s spring couture fashion shows were different. It was not the runways that have changed, the backdrop at Chanel was still able to transport the audience to another world full of whimsical paper flowers. The models still sashayed down the runway; elegant and tall. The clothing, however, had transformed. The dresses that swished down the runway were surprisingly normal, despite their high fashion label of couture.
The couture runway allows designers to let their artistic talents flow and create avant-garde pieces that are more likely to end up in a museum than on someone’s body. However, only a handful of designers can afford to create couture pieces due to the clothes’ high price tags (those feathers on a feathered frock are not cheap!) and stilted demand.
According to Madame Noire, only 1,500 couture dresses are sold annually and they range from $45,000-$1 million. Unlike a dress found in a department store, or even on the runway, each couture dress is hand made. There are also few people who sew the dresses, Madame Noire estimates about there are only 20 full-time tailors for couture.
Anyone who watched the tailors hand-dying and pleating dresses for Dior’s spring couture runway understands it is difficult work. With few tailors, a big price tag, and a small pool of buyers it is not surprising that spring couture has become more wearable to attract a wider audience.
Atelier Versace was one of the runways that flaunted dialed down numbers. Filled with dresses that have the popular cut out trend, Versace’s dress could easily be worn by any woman. Although some pieces edge on risqué, the dresses of Atelier Versace’s 2012 spring couture will make this year’s outfits look conservative.
Even Christian Dior, notorious for outrageous couture, has dialed back the runway show to pieces that could easily be seen on the street. In the past, Christian Dior’s couture runway shows were a spectacle. Almost taking influences literally, Dior’s dresses would transform into flowers or the moon*. Now the fashion powerhouse has released a spring couture line that could be mistaken for his ready to wear line.
Valentino, who contributed Shakespeare as the inspiration for the spring couture line, has always had a less extravagant couture runway compared to the other fashion houses.
However, this trend towards plain has seeped into Valentino’s couture. Even past ready to wear runway shows flaunt more complicated pieces than this spring’s Valentino couture line.
If this trend continues, it might be the death of couture. However, in its death, it will become more accessible to the masses.