Boom time for haute couture as overseas demand soars

Top Parisian houses report 'spectacular recovery' from recession

Couture is back: Rumours of its death had been exaggerated. Designers including Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier and Givenchy reporting a rise in sales of their custom-made creations ahead of this week's Paris shows.

The increase in sales of exclusive fashions – often costing upwards of £30,000 a dress – is being credited to new clients in Russia, the Middle East and China, as well as the return of US customers who had reined in their spending during the recession.

Chanel estimates sales of the label's summer collection were up 20 to 30 per cent on 2009, while Givenchy said its January couture sales were up 10 per cent on last year. Jean Paul Gaultier's president, Veronique Gautier, described the situation as a "spectacular recovery". The company reported that its Russian client base began growing after it held its first haute couture show in Moscow in May. Dior, meanwhile, showed couture at the opening of its enlarged boutique in Shanghai in May.

"It is difficult to pinpoint where couture customers come from," said Harriet Quick of Vogue. "The people you see in the front rows at Paris aren't the same people who are going to the salon to buy them. They are discreet."

Sidney Toledano, president of Christian Dior, told the US fashion blog Women's Wear Daily that Dior's couture arm is booming globally. He said: "We have received so many orders, we are not sure we can deliver them."

Designers, buyers and fashion editors flocked to Paris this weekend for the city's couture shows, which open tomorrow. Labels such as Dior, Valentino and Giorgio Armani Privé will stage catwalk shows, while Givenchy has decided to show its designs by appointment only this season.

"It has gone from a beleaguered couture week to a buoyant commercial proposition," Ms Quick said.

Stringent rules, policed by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, that governed the exclusive world of Paris fashion for 150 years are being relaxed. Once, to use the term "haute couture" fashion houses had to have a workshop in Paris, present a certain number of outfits twice a year and design made-to-measure clothes for individual clients. While purchasing a couture gown from a traditional house such as Chanel requires plenty of both time and money – involving at least three trips to the workshop for fittings – some new designers are happy to work remotely, having the dress sent to and from clients by courier.

"Alexis Mabille does a mix of ready to wear and couture, and the prices are much lower. There is also a new designer, Lee Klabin, who is in Paris showing," Ms Quick said.

Mabille and Klabin are not the only newcomers to Paris fashion week. Jewellery brands such as Van Cleef & Arpels and Chanel Joaillerie showcased their expensive wares as part of the official haute couture calendar for the first time in February. And the last day of the couture shows is now entirely devoted to jewellery. Since allowing jewellers entrance into the couture week, the Chambre Syndicale is said to have been inundated with requests to open up the shows to other brands.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
health
Sport
A view of today's Spanish papers
football
Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Pink Floyd on stage at Live 8 in 2005. From left to right: David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright
music New album The Endless River set to overtake boyband for most pre-ordered of all-time
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
News
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch films his performance as Smaug in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
film
News
people

Sport
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    PE Teacher, Full Time Role, Gillingham School

    Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We are urgently seeking an exper...

    Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Admin - £35,000 - 5 month FTC

    £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 5 month Fixed Term Contract - Telecommunicati...

    Norwegian Speaking Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester is seeki...

    IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

    £24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London