Haute Couture (that is to say actual, made-to-measure, artisanal clothing as opposed to the "juicy" variety) is generally either revered as the highest plateau of the fashion monde, or reviled as an inaccessible and dying pseudo-art. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, and a small number of fashion houses continue to produce two couture seasons each year in an attempt to foster a tradition that once defined the wardrobes of women across the globe. Two of these houses are Chanel (with the infamous Karl Lagerfeld designing for the ultra-modern girly-girl), and Givenchy (designed by the relatively young Riccardo Tisci, who focuses on a darker, more sexual parisian female archetype).
While designer ready-to-wear becomes more costly and intricate with each passing season -often due to techniques borrowed from the couture- designers such as these continue to take clothing to an entirely different level with the Haute Couture presentations. Each garment can takes hundreds of hours of labor to produce (the beading, crystals, embroidery, lace, and feathers take vast amounts of time to construct) and can cost as much as a modest suburban home. Whatever your opinion on such a concept may be, it is nearly impossible for anyone with any interest in design or art not to be blown away by the immense amount of consideration and multi-disciplinary talent that goes into the production of these hypertrophied, conceptual garments.
Chanel Haute Couture by Karl Lagerfeld:
Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci:
Photos: Gianni Pucci and Monica Feudi / Gorunway.com