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…