While we see it on the runway, in the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, and on backs of celebs like Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard as they strut the red carpet, we don’t encounter all that much haute couture in our everyday lives. But much like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, that’s no reason to believe that there aren’t people out there wearing it.
Following the couture shows in Paris last week, the New York Times‘ Cathy Horyn explored the “fairly secretive” world of made-to-measure salons and the glamorous clientele to whom they cater. Browsing through the wares at Raf Simons‘ Dior showroom, she expressed surprise when Catherine Rivière, the director of haute couture for the house, assured her she’d find a taker for the bright pastel three-piece suit shown on the catwalk.
Rivière pointed to the commercial success of Simons’ fall couture debut as an illustration, since with all of its unusual silhouettes like full-skirted dresses over pants and mullet hems, it still bested previous seasons in terms of sales. Dior president Sidney Toledano, meanwhile, told WWD that the brand had seen double-digit growth and would soon need to hire more skilled seamstresses, lest they get behind on their orders.
Most of these orders, Horyn learns when she drops by Karl Lagerfeld‘s studio at Chanel, are being placed by the newly-wealthy women of China, Russia, and parts of the Middle East, and designers are profiting off these new markets by sending members of their ateliers to conduct fittings at the clients’ behest — and, no doubt, in the comfort of their own boudoirs.