Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
07-16-2009, 05:47 AM   #1
Veteran Member
benjikan's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Paris, France
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 4,312
The End of "Haute Couture?"

In the good old days, the “Haute Couture” shows were the most anticipated of all of the collections. It was akin to the Formula 1 of the fashion world. It is unique to Paris and all of the greatest designers the likes of Hubert de Givenchy, Christian Dior, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, , Valentino, Jean-Louis Scherrer, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Lacroix and others would show the epitome of what they were striving for. These were prototypes of sorts and unique pieces of art that were considered the barometer of where fashion was going in the future. These architects of fabric and exotic materials would go to great lengths to establish their identity through their designs.

The press would come in hordes to get a view of these collections, to be the first to show them in their glossy fashion magazines. Shoots would be set up immediately after the collections and given to those magazines with the greatest influence on the public. Only the finest of glossies were given these collections to shoot and in order of priority. It was usually Vogue that was in place number “1″ and the rest would have to wait their turn. The constant bickering between Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar was always omnipresent. You could smell it in the air when the major editors would appear in the same room with each other.

The pecking order at the shows was very well defined and this was also mirrored in where the editors were positioned during the fashion shows. The first row was always a who’s who of the fashion industry and often, shows would not commence until “THAT” Editor in Chief was seated!

Unfortunately, times have changed and as a result of the social conditions, financial malaise and a radically shifted mind set, a new paradigm has emerged and “Haute Couture” seems to be unofficially at least, on Life Support. It is the “Pret a Porter” ready to wear collections that are now the “Queen of the Castle”.

There are a few of the greats and some emerging new designers that are attempting to keep the boat afloat with interesting eclectic designs that are a kind of melting pot of “Haute Couture Meets Pret a Porter”. Alexis Mabille is one designer that comes to mind, that I recently had the privilege to shoot for VOGUE Brasil.

Who knows, perhaps in a few years when we are out of this financial melt down, designers will have more time and money to play with and again produce pieces of art that will influence and inspire the fashion industry to take artistic risks again.

I certainly hope so…

Benjamin Kanarek Blog The End of “Haute Couture?”


Last edited by benjikan; 07-16-2009 at 06:01 AM.
07-16-2009, 09:15 AM   #2
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Bronx NY
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 5,622
Ben,

Funny you should be talking about this as last night on my commute home I was listening to a radio piece on the death of French Cuisine. The author of the piece pretty much exactly mirrored your piece on Haute Couture, in fact you almost could have done a direct word subsitiution and come up with the same sense. Instead of "pret a porter" he talked about "fast food". Did you know that France is McDonald's second most profitable country? At the end of the piece he started talking about how some of the talented young chefs are now starting small bistros and brasseries rather the the old style 3 star "palaces" of yesteryear.

NaCl(it's not only fashion my friend)H2O
07-16-2009, 10:24 AM   #3
Veteran Member
ve2vfd's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Montreal, Canada
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,433
Well, let's not forget that times change, peoples tastes change and we all move on...

Haute couture and fine cuisine have dominated a certain market for a long time, but nothing lasts forever...

Pat
07-16-2009, 10:39 AM   #4
Veteran Member
Venturi's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Tulsa, OK
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,639
I'm just an outsider bumpkin but honestly I think it has to do more with the intent of haute couture being lost in the endless attempts at one-upmanship by too many designers. It's become "eXtreme Fashion" which by definition precludes its ability to be either artistic or trend setting.

07-16-2009, 10:45 AM   #5
Pentaxian
Ratmagiclady's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: GA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 13,545
Conspicuous consumption is not what it had been. I heard a piece where a lot of the Wall Street fatcats are dressing down to avoid being subject to resentment.

I suppose it might make fashion photography a bit less exciting, but I have to say that in recent decades, 'Haute Couture' became so rarefied and irrelevant to even how the hoi polloi would ever dress, even at like the Academy Awards, that people stopped caring. (Except, perhaps, if you see it as an art unto itself,) ...But ho cares what a designer puts on the runway if they're just going to be trying to sell you a slightly-different cut of the same basic garment for more money than you have to begin with?


I suppose I'll always miss the New Wave eclecticism: I could *always* find a way to be comfy and practical and occasion-appropriate, and at least a little hip, but it's no darn surprise that 'haute couture' took twenty years to realize how very disengaged they really became.

It's probably very *like* Formula 1 or NASCAR racing or something, all pretense that it really has anything to do with what car you buy is so abstract that it only matters to a very few.

So there's a Chanel label on the little black dress, or a decal that looks vaguely like a Ford Taurus on the nose of a 'stock car,' ...it's so far gone from either how cars or fashion is made it's just some other kind of ritual exercise about vague notions of prestige.

'Haute Couture' may mean some interesting photos from someone like you, Ben, but it *barely* if at all, translates into anything real for anyone. It's its own thing, which one could take or leave.
07-16-2009, 02:42 PM   #6
Veteran Member
benjikan's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Paris, France
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 4,312
Original Poster
I think of it as a tragic loss of the artisan spirit. Perhaps there will be a backlash as some point in the near future.
07-16-2009, 02:59 PM   #7
Damn Brit
Guest




I think this is part backlash against the decadence of Haute Couture in the present economic times and part selling out on the part of the design houses as a response to that backlash.
That's just the natural rhythm of the man made world.
07-16-2009, 03:06 PM   #8
Pentaxian
Ratmagiclady's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: GA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 13,545
QuoteOriginally posted by benjikan Quote
I think of it as a tragic loss of the artisan spirit. Perhaps there will be a backlash as some point in the near future.

Well, I think there's something to *that.* 'Haute Couture' has become as disposable, irrelevant, and ephemeral as any other slight variations in a disposable, outsourced, and distant material culture.

Gets to the point of: Who even cares, ...by the time anything 'trickles down,' it's the same kind of thing the Gap was hawking in 1992 in a slightly different color and even less fabric wherever they can convince someone. (It's definitely been a pet peeve of mine in recent years: even as someone accustomed to being a thrift-store shopper: at some point, anything cool or decent or useful just *stopped* somewhere up the pipeline. Go into a store for new clothes... same thing. Different frill on the same darn stuff. I was ready to throw something last year when I went in, being like, 'OK, my stuff's way too raggy,' go in the store, they want fifty dollars for the same thing pre-raggy-ified.

I see it in trying to get a handle on our present zeitgeist photographically... even the punkers are wearing the same stuff they did circa 1990... It's like 'mandatory dressing-down. '

I liken it to a failure of the mass-market. Sure, it seems diverse, but all the clothiers are just trying to do the same thing and the same thing and the same thing. In their own rarefied world, I'm sure it's all very sophisticated. But it's so far away.

07-16-2009, 03:56 PM   #9
Veteran Member
MRRiley's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Sterling, VA, USA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 6,276
QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote
... in recent decades, 'Haute Couture' became so rarefied and irrelevant to even how the hoi polloi would ever dress, even at like the Academy Awards, that people stopped caring. (Except, perhaps, if you see it as an art unto itself,) ...

It's probably very *like* Formula 1 or NASCAR racing or something, all pretense that it really has anything to do with what car you buy is so abstract that it only matters to a very few. ...
"Haute Couture" was never about selling the design as an every day or even a "dress to the nines" product. The designs were always one offs and were never meant to be mass produced. It was pure ART and is to the fashion world what Picasso and artists like him are to the art world. "Haute Couture" DID set trends, when elements of designs were inevitably incorporated into production designs just as Picasso and his contemporaries set trends in modern impressionistic painting. So to me the decline of "Haute Couture" is a sad thing for fashion and for creativity.

As for NASCAR/F1 racing. These are only incidentally about selling cars as, naturally, one of the goals is to build "brand interest or loyalty" among the fans. NASCAR and F1 are however, primarily about stretching the edge of the automotive engineering envelope... improving designs, performance and handling, among other things. As such, they are about the ART of the car.

So, IMHO "Haute Couture" and NASCAR/F1 are both extremely relevent and their loss would take some of the magic and excitement out of the world.

Mike
07-16-2009, 04:27 PM   #10
Pentaxian
Ratmagiclady's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: GA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 13,545
QuoteOriginally posted by MRRiley Quote
"Haute Couture" was never about selling the design as an every day or even a "dress to the nines" product. The designs were always one offs and were never meant to be mass produced. It was pure ART and is to the fashion world what Picasso and artists like him are to the art world. "Haute Couture" DID set trends, when elements of designs were inevitably incorporated into production designs just as Picasso and his contemporaries set trends in modern impressionistic painting. So to me the decline of "Haute Couture" is a sad thing for fashion and for creativity.

As for NASCAR/F1 racing. These are only incidentally about selling cars as, naturally, one of the goals is to build "brand interest or loyalty" among the fans. NASCAR and F1 are however, primarily about stretching the edge of the automotive engineering envelope... improving designs, performance and handling, among other things. As such, they are about the ART of the car.

So, IMHO "Haute Couture" and NASCAR/F1 are both extremely relevent and their loss would take some of the magic and excitement out of the world.

Mike

Well, this is fair enough, though I think both really *did* have their roots in there being *some* connection, however tenuous, between the proceedings of the 'artistes' and something which people could connect with. I think at the present time, there relaly *is* a general disinterest in fashion, cause, quite simply, they've been selling us the same crap with new marketing for too long.


It's a little like with music, the big companies clamped down on the very things that *get and keep people interested in music,* ...continuing to try and control things like manufactured products, consolidate, control, focus-group... Why be concerned with the fashion avant-garde at all when you're bored stiff with what ends up in your life, you know? People stop even pretending to care.
07-17-2009, 01:11 AM   #11
Veteran Member
benjikan's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Paris, France
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 4,312
Original Poster
A Counter Argument to The End of “Haute Couture?” by: Frédérique Renaut

A Counter Argument to The End of “Haute Couture?” by: Frédérique Renaut

I am quoting Glenda Bailey, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar offering a compelling economic argument for the institution’s importance:

“When it comes to couture, in addition to the craftsmanship, which we are in danger of losing, we have to think of the sheer amount of jobs it sustains. People say we should be saving, but actually we should encourage the people who have the means to spend. Too many people think it’s frivolous, but couture generates huge amounts of income.”

I have worked many years in several Parisian Fashion Houses (Louis Féraud, Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy who was designed by Alexander McQueen at the time) and I have to say that Couture is not dead. Established fashion designers made a directional switch as they understood the importance of having a R&D department for their other lines of products (look at Jean Paul Gaultier who came in to Couture in 1997 and more recently Giorgio Armani in 2005).

These changes generate exposure and profits through the licenses of the name, but for a young designer who is trying to survive on the sale of its Couture Collection, it is almost impossible. Even the most established Couturiers encounter problems that have nothing to do with the true clients (which represent fewer than 200 on the planet. I am not talking about celebrities who the dresses are lent to for the red carpet event, but people who actually are paying for their dresses).

The biggest problem is who are the financial backers and what are their intentions… Look at what recently happened to Christian Lacroix (one of the most talented designers living today). He was a victim of those backers who have only one interest:

Short term dividends.

But I guess it is the same problematic in every business…

Frédérique Renaut ©2009
Benjamin Kanarek Blog A Counter Argument to The End of ?Haute Couture?? by: Frédérique Renaut
07-17-2009, 03:56 AM   #12
Loyal Site Supporter
Loyal Site Supporter
RichardS's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Nelson Bay, NSW, Australia
Posts: 2,388
Short term dividends and short term goals destroy any business that decides to reward its executives based on them.

I have a little story of how the alta moda business used to be. When we were living in England in the early 1970s, my then wife worked as a model in Rome (which sort of explains why we got divorced), mainly for Valentino. She did a private show one day for a famous American woman who was married to a very wealthy Greek guy. The customer liked several of the outfits and ordered five copies of each. You see, she had five residences and she didn't like to pack.

Richard.
07-17-2009, 12:12 PM   #13
Pentaxian
Ratmagiclady's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: GA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 13,545
I do think that artisanship in general has declined *terribly,* .... though people were numbed to the concern long before we really *were* buying plastic and particle-board and basically-disposable crap...

Too much, perhaps, of the disposable, electronic age... and people wonder why manufacturing gets sent overseas to where semi-skilled labor can do the same things cheaper... Cause the standards had already sunk to where a child in a sweatshop could do it, and cheaper, to begin with. And we wonder about unemployment, underemployment, total atrophy of the trades.... Even why the 'fashion elite' has nothing to do with us if we don't enjoy watching daytime talk shows and getting spooled up about who wore what to the Academy Awards.

It's one thing about trying to turn a lens on the world again after an involuntary hiatus... For such a 'materialistic' culture, I don't see a lot of material culture out there. I'm not sure just what to think.




Cause we buy crap.

I mean, too, that I didn't stop *seeing* when my eyes were bad and I had other problems: I really noticed that even in times or rather idle *decadence,* in the Nineties, there was such a lack of *exuberance* even in commercialized expression. Probably *because* commercialism was substituted for expression, 'competing' labels, maybe, but all trying to sell basically the same thing. A lot.

Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 07-17-2009 at 12:23 PM.
07-17-2009, 12:59 PM   #14
Veteran Member
Venturi's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Tulsa, OK
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,639
I don't want to derail or deflect the discussion but something has been eating at me that, I think, dovetails into the whole pop-culture aspect of the topic and specifically to some of your points, RML.

When George Carlin died earlier this year NBC re-aired the debut/pilot episode of SNL (which Carlin hosted). The opening skit was a very well done parody of the then current Gillette razor advertisements. The narration went on about detailing the virtues of 3 blades versus two and my brain just went along waiting for the punchline. And then there it was: "The new Gillette <idontremember> with 3 blades. Because you'll buy anything." I laughed pretty hard for a second until reality drifted back in...
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
christian, collections, designers, designs, editors, fashion, industry, influence, mind, vogue
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
"Bing" Cashback to end on July 30, 2010 Ed n Georgia Pentax Price Watch 1 06-04-2010 10:01 PM
A Counter Argument to The End of “Haute Couture? benjikan General Talk 0 07-16-2009 02:40 PM
k200d "sold out...end of line" srp Pentax News and Rumors 38 02-20-2009 08:23 AM
"The End" of still photography as we know it? d.bradley General Talk 58 01-12-2009 12:01 PM
"Hunger for a DA*50-135?" or "The DA*50-135 as a bird lens!" or "Iron age birds?" Douglas_of_Sweden Post Your Photos! 4 08-13-2008 06:09 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 03:00 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top