Sombre haute couture week ahead

PARIS, Dominique Schroeder - The haute couture shows for next autumn-winter open next week in a sombre mood, with the fate of the house of Christian Lacroix hanging in the balance since it went into administration in May.
Despite its critical acclaim and popularity with fashion editors, it has struggled financially and looks set to become the first big name victim of the global recession in the luxury sector.

Sombre haute couture week ahead
The collection which will be presented on Tuesday could very possibly be the last.
Gone are the days of packed rooms with more than 900 invited guests. This season only 280 people will be receiving invitations, markedly funereal in black and white instead of the usual flamboyant colours, to a show with half the number of models.
When the designer from Arles, in the south of France, set up his own house with the support of the global luxury leader LVMH in 1987 it was welcomed as a breath of fresh air in the stuffy world of haute couture.
LVMH's decision to sell the house in 2005 to the US duty free giant Falic was seen by some as a disquieting sign.
The house, which employs 250 people, went into administration with a six-month observation period after making losses of 10 million euros last year for sales of 30 million.
Christian Dior, whose designer John Galliano is notorious for staging extravagant spectacles in exotic locations like the chateau of Versailles, is staging two presentations of its collection in its own salons in the Avenue Montaigne.
The house refused to comment on why it was returning to the traditional way of showing couture, emphasising that the same number of people were being invited as last season.
The president of the fashion federation, Didier Grumbach, told AFP that such decisions were not necessarily dictated by budgetary constraints. He said that in the current financial crisis putting on "immense shows, extravaganzas... would not go down well."
Showing at home was also one way of looking at couture. "There are collections which lend themselves to spectacles and others which need to be seen close-up," he added.
Chanel, which showed its collection last season in a relatively small salon near the house's historic headquarters in rue Cambon, is returning to its usual location, the immense Grand Palais off the Champs Elysees.
Unusually, its artistic director Karl Lagerfeld has chosen a late evening spot on the calendar, 9 pm, which a spokeswoman said "fitted in better with the scenography and decor".
The Givenchy and Armani shows are on Tuesday, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Valentino and Elie Saab on Wednesday, the final day.
Among the guest designers, invited to show collections even though they do not meet the full criteria of couture, there are two new names this season: Beirut-based Lebanese Rabih Kayrouz, who has worked both at Dior and Chanel, and has just opened a show room in Paris, and French label Alexander Matthieu, founded by Alexandre Morgado and Matthieu Bureau.

Friday, July 3rd 2009
Dominique Schroeder

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