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Paris haute couture fashion week: A combination of 21st-century and historical antecedents

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Sometimes, the haute couture shows feel the same, steeped as these clothes are in their own storied past. They feel saturated; dripping with the stuff. The history of most of the fashion houses here is inescapable – and omnipotent: Dior’s Bar, Chanel’s suits. Even Versace has a glitzy, if far more recent, past from which to hew inspirational nuggets.

The big question is how – or, perhaps, if – haute couture can escape that constant remembrance of frocks past and push itself to create something that resonates with contemporary women.

Then again, how much does that actually matter? Haute couture is sold to “the happy few, about 1,000 customers in the world”, to borrow the words of Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president of fashion. That is a fairly constant number: older couture clients die; oldish Oligarchs marry youngish wives (third or fourth time lucky), so new couture clients are born.

Haute Couture autumn/winter 2014 fashion shows

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