Couture! Couture!

Bonjour my fellow fashion loves! In preparation for my upcoming European travels next week, let’s talk European fashion! And there is nothing more true to Europe and fashion than haute couture!

Dior Haute Couture

What is haute couture, you ask? It is the crème de la crème of fashionable creativity. Haute, which actually translates from French, meaning “high” and couture meaning “sewing” together have grown into the meaning of “high fashion” today.  While couture if often associated with France, it was actually an Englishman, Charles Worth, who is referred to as the “father of haute couture” today. Worth relocated to Paris, France in the 1860’s and caught the eye of
one, Napoleon III’s wife, and from then on, made clothes specifically for her.

Haute couture dates back all the way to the 18th century and still today, generates more than $1 billion dollars each year in sales; however, roughly only 2,000 women around the world purchase couture and 60% of those women are American!

Dior Haute Couture 2009

So what is it about haute couture that makes every woman, especially in America, want to own a piece? Maybe it’s because couture means having the garment fit for you! Having a single garment hanging in your closet, tailored to your specific body, that took a couture house anywhere from 100-400 hours to produce, makes a fairly loud statement about your status in the world. Haute couture is extreme elegance, filled with grandiosity to the max and a dramatic finish to top it off.

Galliano for Dior Haute Couture Spring 2007

As couture design houses have to show their collections twice a year, we just finished seeing autumn/winter 2012 and it brought quite a few changes from the
past.  For years, the king of couture has been John Galliano, but after his slip of the tongue referring to the racist and anti-Semitic insults you most likely heard about over the news, he was released from Dior’s fashion house just days before fashion week in February.

Therefore, with the absence of Galliano, no one really knew what to expect from the top couture lines on the runway. Nevertheless, my favorite, house of Chanel, didn’t disappoint offering a stunning collection in which I can only describe as
“mournful, gothic, elegance” filled with feathers, lace, and retro shapes galore!

Chanel Haute Couture Fall 2012

Chanel Haute Couture Fall 2012

Coming in at a close second was Givenchy. Riccardo Tisci made his Givenchy girls appear as angels falling from grace and delicate swans too beautiful to touch. Delicate beading and nude colors were all over the runway for Givenchy and done just right.

Givenchy Haute Couture Fall 2012

Givenchy Haute Couture Fall 2012

Givenchy Haute Couture Fall 2012

Overall, haute couture is highly impractical, complete unaffordable to most women and often unwearable (we all don’t go off to red carpet events every evening), but what would girls like me dream about if not the best of the best? What is fashion all about after all? It’s about the enormous extravagance, extreme creativity, and endless hard work it takes in putting together a piece of art so beautiful and sometimes so fragile that it might be best only if viewed in a
museum next to the greats of Picasso or Kandinsky.

StyleMax: Fall Forecast

In these frigid days of blizzards, rapid winds, and negative temperatures, it can be difficult to imagine the upcoming warm, sunny days filled with beach outings, picnics, and outdoor concerts.  Beyond that, the fall season strikes again where we begin to gradually layer our clothing again and bundle up for the next few months, of what can feel at times, like hibernation.

From last week through the weekend, it was time for another StyleMax fashion market, held at the Merchandise Mart, in downtown Chicago.  I truly enjoy working these markets for numerous reasons, mainly because I get to preview what designer’s trends are to be for the upcoming seasons.  To give you a bit of background about what StyleMax is and what I do there, I will fill you in on the basics.  StyleMax is a women’s apparel and accessory tradeshow where designers and well-known brands showcase their latest and greatest collections.  Buyers from boutiques, spas, and larger stores from all around the world register to enter and walk around to their favorite exhibitors where representatives, like me, show them our latest collections.  Buyers then decide whether or not pieces from those collections will sell to their customer base in their stores and if it will coincide with other items already purchased from different exhibitors.  From the early start to the day to when the show floor closes down, it is a constant selling atmosphere and is difficult to view other designer’s collections and speak with them.  Therefore, I usually forego taking a long lunch and instead choose to walk the aisles of fashion and fun.

Burberry Prorsum Pre Fall 2011

Chloe Pre Fall 2011

This fall, the minimalism trend carries over.  Focus lies more on detailed stitching, cut, and the overall quality of the garment.  Be on the lookout for warm color tones such as heather beiges, browns, and grays.  Also, the line for jackets and sweaters becomes a bit hazy as the two create a hybrid leading to heavier sweaters that double as a coat if you were to go outside.  Think oversized, longer, cozier outerwear.  Details of large ribbing, cable knit, and tie-waists are visible along with the idea of “looking chic without trying” by adding some fur trimming to a number of its’ pieces giving off a sense of luxury.  As most exhibitors were not showing fall quite yet, still focused on spring and summer wear, one of the lines I represent is always ahead of the game and blows me away with the inventions and creations made with each fall collection.  This show, Katherine Barclay focused on asymmetrical cut sweaters, trapeze cut tops, and dresses that could be worn from day to night while allowing for comfort with its knit fabric.  Other labels are welcoming back the wide-leg trouser with easy going tops.  In terms of accessories – the more unique the better.  Accessories will be the way to make your statement in terms of dress this fall.  From chunky to ruffled, bubbled or absolutely absurd, you’re options are endless with these upcoming items!

Chanel Pre Fall 2011

Givenchy Pre Fall 2011

Vera Wang Pre Fall 2011

Even though days like this week make me never want to see a snowflake or put on a goose-down parka ever again, it is trends and collections like these that have me waiting in anticipation and excitement for my favorite stores to decide what to purchase and make available for me and other customers.  Until the next StyleMax fashion market where we will feature holiday 2011 looks, I will leave you with happy thoughts of intimate sweaters and novel accessories.