The Past, Present and Future of Haute Couture with Julien Fournié – Part 2

The Past, Present and Future of Haute Couture – Part 2

Interview by Stacey Blanchet

Your couture show has pieces that are sold in stores. How do you make couture for a market and does that take away the meaning of couture?

I know that I have many creative ideas in many fields and that, so far, I can only make some of my many dreams come true. One of them is to be able to propose my designs to more women in the world. The average price tag for an Haute Couture piece is around 20,000 euros. Back in the 1950s, at what was called the « Golden Age of Haute Couture » more women than now could afford each season to buy a Haute Couture piece. Say, for instance a famous physician’s wife could order at least one every season… The price of work has increased and we cannot provide any more this made-to-measure one of a kind fashion item for this type of fashion budget. Today, where is the « famous physician’s wife » going to constitute her wardrobe? To the luxury ready-to-wear. She knows that everyone does not have access to it, but that she can afford it. She knows that I twill make a difference for her as she will have to choose from items which, just like Haute Couture, are not following the trends but setting the future trends. She knows that she
will have quality and not a piece ready to be thrown away after it has been worn a couple of times.
This is the reason why today, couturiers have to think it in a different manner. Proposing capsule collections («capsule» meaning a small set of pieces) at a more affordable price tag than Haute Couture (average tag price for a full luxury ready-to-wear look starts around euros 2,000) could reasonably be considered in our investments and the Spring Summer 2016 collection is already the fourth season we have been producing under my
own label in this field. We have been concentrating for it on cocktail dresses and evening wear. And we have one very particular feature for it. Associated on our runway during Haute Couture Paris Fashion Week, the pieces in this category can be mixed with our Couture pieces and be found in a selected network of stores on the very day of the runway show. This means that buyers from various stores (including department stores) can see this small collection in our showroom at the time when they buy luxury ready-to-wear in Paris, and also that we are delivering them to the stores just before the
runway show is happening. This is a new approach and I believe it takes time for retailers to understand it.
This has no impact on our Haute Couture customers as they know which pieces are Haute Couture on the runway, just because, as they have already worn Haute Couture pieces, they recognize them at once. Haute Couture customers also buy ready-to-wear pieces for their daily life. So, today a luxury fashion designer, especially Haute Couture designers, could and should be expressing their art in both fields.

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Issue No.23

Stacey Blanchet

Senior Editor