Outlook sunny for Paris fashion after spring show

27th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 27, 2006 (AFP) - The world's top designers dispelled fears about the future of haute couture with stunning colour and craftsmanship in Paris this week, as interest in high fashion widens beyond the fortuned few, according to industry professionals.

PARIS, Jan 27, 2006 (AFP) - The world's top designers dispelled fears about the future of haute couture with stunning colour and craftsmanship in Paris this week, as interest in high fashion widens beyond the fortuned few, according to industry professionals.

Soft, feminine elegance reigned supreme on the catwalks for spring-summer 2006 with richly-worked gowns, often in white, that shimmered and skimmed or hugged the models' curves, offering quintessential red-carpet glamour.

However, the sumptuous luxury of haute couture no longer seems destined for just a handful of very wealthy clients with money to spare, according to Didier Grumbach, president of the French couture federation.

"Interest in haute couture is much wider than that — it is really becoming a world phenomenon," he told AFP.

At Chanel, German designer Karl Lagerfeld wowed the fashion crowd in the French capital with a collection of light, luminous gowns, as the winter sunshine streamed through the huge glass ceiling of the lavish Grand Palais.

Former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, seated front row for Lagerfeld's exquisite display of fashion savoir-faire, was among a cluster of young, trendy stars to have attended the three days of collections.

"There's a sort of renewed level of interest among the hip wealthy set," said Hilary Alexander of Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, adding that a decade ago it was mainly the "ladies who lunch bunch" of rich American society wives in their 50s, 60s or older who came to the shows.

British showman John Galliano offered a very different approach to haute couture at Christian Dior, unleashing a passionate collection of voluminous gowns in revolutionary red inspired by French history.

Luxury fashion consultant Jean-Jacques Picart described the atmosphere of the collection, which was also heavy on leather and lacing, as strong, violent and stormy amid an otherwise sunny season.

Although the demise of haute couture as commercially unviable and out of step with the times has long been predicted, Picart said the industry had seen a serious evolution in the past three years.

But he said the most important aspect of haute couture for fashion houses was the opportunity to advertise, using worldwide media coverage to polish their images and hawk accessories and cosmetics — crucial for the bottom line.

On average, made-to-measure garments cost about EUR 12-15,000 to buy, he said, adding the price tag on more elaborate pieces may be anything up to EUR 30,000.

France's Christian Lacroix rediscovered the inspiration in his native southern France for a collection full of vivid colours, while Jean-Paul Gaultier's inimitable style shone through with a Greek-themed line.

Valentino's dazzling gowns offered classic Hollywood A-list glamour, while his younger compatriot Riccardo Tisci confirmed his place as artistic director at Givenchy with a refined second haute couture collection.

As well as the 16 shows on the French couture federation's official calendar, more than 20 other designers stepped into the creative spotlight to present haute couture collections on the sidelines of the main events.

"I think more and more that haute couture, it's the future," Grumbach said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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