We always wonder who–if anyone–buys couture.
Obviously, the industry is still alive and well, so someone does. But often, the handmade looks seem too over-the-top for even the most extravagant events. Not to mention couture’s exorbitant price tag.
Cathy Horyn was curious, too, so she went to Dior and Chanel to investigate this “fairly secretive” part of the industry. Most notably, she found that Raf Simons’s fall 2012 Dior couture collection (his first) was quite lucrative. Catherine Rivière, Dior’s director of haute couture told Horyn it had done better than previous seasons and Dior president Sidney Toledano said the house experienced double-digit growth and has gotten more orders than it can fill.
Horyn suggests that houses’ willingness to travel to customers all over the world for fittings benefits their business. She also credits new customers in Asia and Russia and their “new wealth” for couture’s recent success. “As ready-to-wear brands push a ubiquitous kind of luxury — or, so it often seems — couture fulfills an altogether unique experience,” she writes.
That’s something we’ve heard before and it seems to be true. However, many critics observed that Simons’s couture collection was much more wearable than the couture we’re all used to. Simons himself has said his goal has been to re-adapt Dior’s house codes for how women actually live their lives these days; so why wouldn’t women prefer to shell out for couture that, while gorgeous and innovative, was also designed with some practicality in mind?