WHY IS COUTURE SO IMPORTANT AND WHO'S ACTUALLY BUYING IT?
Couture Fashion Week's latest addition explains the relevancy of extravagance in today's world.
HARPERS BAZAAR AUSTRALIA - ELLA ALEXANDER
This is where designers come to demonstrate the craftsmanship behind their work. It's fashion at its most extravagant, where there are no commercial restrictions. Dresses range up to the $250,000 in price.
It's a niche market, but one that shows no sign of dwindling. Tel Aviv-based label Galia Lahav was this season inducted into the couture schedule, showing its first couture collection at the Grand Palais on Thursday.
For its eponymous designer, couture is more important now than it ever was.
"We know that it's niche and yes there are things that are more trendy and obviously more wearable, but the quality of the fabric, the quality of technique – those things are important to the industry and they need to be preserved," she told us post-show.
"They are the foundation of fashion; they're the roots," she added. "If you start to neglect the high quality of fabric, of embroidery, of sewing then you lose your foundation then you become like everyone else."
Former teacher Lahav established her brand 30 years ago, specialising in embroidery. A decade later, she enlisted her then student, Sharon Sever, as her design partner.
He says that their clients come from all over the world, and span all ages.
"The US is doing very well for us, as is London," he says. "We make a lot of couture bridal gowns too – I made one for a young girl recently that cost $250,000 [approx]. In the US, bridal couture is a booming area."
"Japan is also a growing market," adds Lahav. "But we're expanding; this is the start of our couture chapter. There's also a steady flow of young women from Dubai who are buying our clothes."
The level of workmanship is impressive – a single gown can take between 200 and 500 hours to make. One of the spring/summer 2017 dresses is decorated with original embroidery from the 17th century.
"It's what makes us dream," says Sever. "It's the same reason people go to the movies. We're in the dream industry."