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Couturier's closure marks end of era: Fashion designer says that made-to-measure clothing has become an anachronism

VICTOR EDELSTEIN, one of the finest of London's dwindling band of couturiers, sounded the last post for top-of-the-market, made-to-measure clothing yesterday.

He is to close his 15-year-old couture house, where prices started at pounds 2,500, to devote more time to his new interest, painting.

Mr Edelstein said: 'Couture has become an anachronism and no long er fits in with the way people live. Through the Eighties there was a tremendous revival of couture, but one should recognise when an era has ended.'

Victor Edelstein is the second house to shut up shop in recent months. Last November, the house of Hartnell, which dressed the Queen, was forced into receivership.

The problems facing British couturiers have been matched in Paris, where many leading couture houses are making cuts. The difference, as Mr Edelstein pointed out, is that couture is the 'window dressing' for French fashion houses: their businesses do not depend on it.

Mr Edelstein, 47, was in thoughtful mood yesterday. 'Life has become faster and more informal; couture is for a more leisured and luxurious way of living, and women are less willing to invest in the amount of time that couture demands.

'Women are buying one or two outfits, instead of several, and they are even skipping seasons. There aren't as many parties and dinners, and many people don't want to be seen to be spending money.'

He predicted couture would come back. 'But how long will it take? I don't have the resources to wait.'

Mr Edelstein first made his name in the late Sixties, assisting Barbara Hulanicki, founder of Biba. In the mid-Seventies, he designed for Christian Dior London, and opened his own house in 1978, building a reputation for sophisticated clothes that were fashionable but always elegant.

(Photograph omitted)