Paris Couture 2014/15- “Haute Couture Without The Couture”

I found the latest couture showings in Paris (Fall 2014 / 2015) on the whole, a little anti-climactic. With the threat of suffering a public stoning (or at least, an ostracision) a very real one for high-profile fashion-writers (that’s not me by the way, just clarifying!) it is rare that anyone write about couture in terms that are any less than glowing. In a way, it is almost blasphemous to do so: the hundreds of man-hours invested per outfit, the intricate beadwork, the seaming, the spectacle. The prices.


Scouring through the couture galleries however, I was nevertheless left feeling just ever so confused with the looks from the season. Sure, there were some knockouts, but there was also a considerable amount of looks that just didn’t look “couture” to me.

(Four of the looks that had me wondering about “couture”. From left: Bouchra Jarra, Giambattista Valli, Maison Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf)


Was I missing something.

Sort of. I already knew that the term haute couture is protected by law in France and is defined by the Paris Chamber of Commerce (Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris). It stipulates that to earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term haute couture a fashion house must follow these rules:

  1. Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
  2. Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
  3. Each season (i.e. twice a year) present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.
Did someone say “daytime wear”? My god, yes they did. As it turns out “couture” is not all about huge, diaphanous ballgowns with six-figure price tags, it is also about daywear with six figure price tags. As Tim Blanks from writes “The other thing that keeps Simons (of Dior) out ahead is his assertion that Couture need not be for special occasions. True luxury is spending five or six figures and wearing something not once or twice, but incorporating it into your daily wardrobe.”

The new “couture”. From Left: Schiaparelli, Giambattista Valli, Alexandre Vauthier, Dior


Even Karl Lagerfeld quipped about his own collection “this is haute couture without the couture.” Sure, the garments employ mind-bending technical genius, and exotic materials (Chanel used concrete in some looks this year), however it is being delivered for the customer in lighter, fresher (more wearable) ways that are not necessarily in line with the perceptions most common folk have about what makes “couture.”

Examples of this “fresher Couture”, still resembling traditional couture: Chanel, Armani Prive, Valentino, Chanel.

This new look couture coincides with the new “couture customer” ,who is no longer typified by the mature-aged dame from Park Avenue dutifully perched in the front row. For Dior at least, their couture customer age has fallen, from mid 40s to early 30s, a change attributed to the rise of rich, tech-savvy customers in burgeoning markets including China, Russia and the Middle East.

Somewhat more traditional couture visions. From left: Zuhair Murad, Giambattista Valli, Elie Saab, Versace

There certainly were a number of gowns in the shows for those looking for the eye-candy couture of old (and the couture still most widely reported). Elie Saab, Giambattista Valli and Zuhair Murad did not disappoint, and it goes without saying that we will see many of these creations carefully re-interpreted for upcoming awards events the world over. But, it does look as if couture is changing, and it will be exciting to see where this boundary-pushing craft (that is still steeped in centuries of tradition), will go next.

What did you think of couture 2014/15? Tell us in the comments below!

Need more glamour? Watch – BEHIND THE SCENES: CHANEL CRUISE





  • Reply jessicawheelock Sunday 3rd August, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    There are seriously about three wearable outfits here…

  • Reply BellaB Friday 25th July, 2014 at 9:27 am

    I always associate the catwalk shows with stuff you couldn’t possibly wear in real life, and that means I’m not too interested.

  • Reply Sparkles17 Wednesday 23rd July, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Some cool designs.

  • Reply amanda6393 Monday 21st July, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Eek. Some hideous stuff here.

  • Reply yslyenom Sunday 20th July, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Zuhair Murad’s black dress is a yes from me

  • Reply Whatthe Sunday 20th July, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    All of that I could not wear because people would think I was a complete weirdo! I know, it’s just for famous people going to the logies or something though. ; )

  • Reply stels Saturday 19th July, 2014 at 5:55 pm


  • Reply stels Saturday 19th July, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    but i do have to admit i definitely much prefer ‘traditional’ couture!

  • Reply stels Saturday 19th July, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    ps. i never knew about the ‘rules’ of haute couture that’s so interesting!

  • Reply stels Saturday 19th July, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    looks great imo

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