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2009 July 6

What's the Future of Couture?

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(PARIS) Although the economic crise has touched Paris, perhaps irrevocably, the fashion industry is rallying around the institution of couture, which has come under fire as the vox populi finds little sense in a dress that costs as much as a SmartCar. At today's Dior show, attendees appeared to be nothing if not energized. The palpable excitement might have been a credit to John Galliano, who never fails to present a spectacle both supremely artistic and immensely shopable. "I think Galliano's talent is very rare,"  said Sidney Toledano, president and chief executive of Christian Dior, before the designer's magnificent showing. "You need someone (at Dior) who can not only create haute couture, but can do the rest (of the collections produced by the house). Obviously, the company is all over the world--we have the shoes, ready-to-wear, the bags--so the designer needs to be just as global."

The Dior model offers a mixed bag of ready-to-wear, couture, and beauty that has propelled the brand's growth throughout the last several decades. "Couture means, for us, the work of the designer within the history of the house," said Toledano. "It's our DNA. It's our uniqueness. The couture business will continue as long as we have the atelier, the embroiderers...the clients, we'll find. Yesterday, they may have been American. Tomorrow, they may be in China. But we'll always have people who appreciate this excellence."

Dior is holding two separate shows today for the first time in several seasons to accommodate all the interest in Galliano's latest collection. While it appears that the department stores are sitting this season out, it makes perfect sense, given that they do not carry the product. The couture collections represent an unparalleled opportunity for brands to connect with key customers, who fuel sales of not only this particular product, but the rest of the business as well. "We have to protect our savoir-faire, and we do that in couture," concluded Toledano. "This is the message we are giving today."
ASHLEY BAKER




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