The Atelier Versace return to the couture catwalk after years of scaled-down private salon presentations was deemed a triumph, while the entire fashion community is on tenterhooks for Raf Simons’ inaugural collection at Christian Dior today. Chanel recorded their ‘best ever year in couture’ last season, and Jean Paul Gaultier’s Amy Winehouse tribute collection saw revenues leap up. Meanwhile Dior’s fortunes continued to increase, even during the designer-free seasons after Galliano’s departure. Armani Prive also confirm that their revenues are up ‘significantly’.
So who is it, in this era of global recession and economic austerity, forking out tens, and often hundreds of thousands on individual, made-to-measure garments at couture? According to a report on WWD today, the 'global superrich' couture clientele is a combination of traditional customers in the USA and Europe; your classic couture client like Daphne Guinness - as well as the emerging markets of China, Brazil, Turkey and Russia. Couturiers are already tailoring their designs to suit their tastes, with Karl Lagerfelt’s jumbo-jet-set collection a highly successful example. And designers are also hitting the road to sell: Gaultier will hold a couture show in Colombia this autumn, and Chanel travels to in Tokyo in March.
Additionally, not everyone is buying the garments to wear them – but as collector’s items. ‘For those who can afford it, couture offers the height of rarity, one of a kind, hand-made fashion,’ said Fabio Mancone, a global boss at Giorgio Armani Group, 'I believe it stands for so much more than mere wealth, and so has an appeal that is more on par with works of art than expensive, trend-driven clothing’