PARIS — Will couture’s hand-rendered and delicate seams be able to withstand the economic crisis?
So far, so good, say executives, who anticipate no drop in client attendance — though hardly an avalanche of orders — as the high fashion shows get under way here today.
“The growth will be lower in 2009, but we are expecting growth,” said Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president of fashion, which posted a double-digit sales rise in couture last year, selling more units of its summer and winter collections. “We are quite confident; we aren’t specifically anxious about the business.
“If (clients) are coming, they want to continue to be part of the dream,” he said in an interview, sounding upbeat and serene. “I believe a lot in couture because of the creativity and because of the very special service we can give to the customer.”
“We had double-digit growth and the second half of the year was good,” echoed Sidney Toledano, president and chief executive officer at Christian Dior. “I believe that in this world you still have people looking for the exceptional — extraordinary materials and exceptional designs, custom-made by an atelier in Paris.”
Toledano said Dior couturier John Galliano, who in the past had staged fantastical shows with extreme silhouettes, has since 2007 returned to “really interpreting the Dior codes and the Dior cuts, and this has been impacting the sales.”
To be sure, couture has been riding high in recent years as the luxury boom — and an influx of younger clients from a range of emerging countries — kept the remaining handful of practitioners running at full capacity. Executives allowed that the financial crisis could cast some chill on the uppermost slice of the fashion business, and voiced caution while underscoring the positive trends.
“In the past three years, we have seen many new customers from all parts of the world, not only the U.S. and Europe — from China, for example,” Pavlovsky said.
Fabrizio Malverdi, president and ceo of Givenchy, reported an 80 percent increase in its couture revenues last year as Riccardo Tisci’s design imprint helped the brand gain traction. An increase of 20 percent is forecast for 2009, he said, noting the majority of its customers are based in the Middle East. Malverdi also noted new couture clients could be existing ready-to-wear clients looking to trade up, or someone intrigued after seeing a celebrity wearing a couture garment on the red carpet.
A spokesperson for the Giorgio Armani Privé couture collection cited an increase in clients from the Middle East over the past two years, but noted it is “difficult to predict how the American sales will fare. Nevertheless, we have had a positive response in confirming our regular and new clients to the show….The couture business has performed well even in the past two seasons.”
“We have a nice carryover of orders into 2009,” noted Nicolas Topiol, chief executive officer at Christian Lacroix. “It’s performing quite well relative to ready-to-wear and retail, which both suffered at the end of 2008. We have a pretty stable clientele and we’ve gained some new clients. I’m not too worried.”
The global pool of couture clients remains small, numbering in the hundreds, meaning even one new client can turn the tide. “You do a big wedding, and your business is there,” said Lacroix’s Topiol. Topiol allowed that orders from American clients could drop, given the scale of the financial crisis there, but new clients from Japan and China might pick up the slack.
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)
The @cfda has shifted the dates of #NYFW, with Men’s showing on February 5 through February 7, and Women’s will directly follow, running from February 8 through 14. The preliminary schedule will be released on the CFDA’s web site in the next few days, but Mark Beckham, VP of marketing for the CFDA, revealed that @rafsimons will be back to close the men’s-specific part of the week with a show on February 7 #wwdfashion (📷: Kelly Taub)
@ferragamo is introducing a new space dedicated to the development of women’s and men’s leather good samples. The laboratory, which is created eco-friendly materials and designed to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing processes, will allow the company to expand its accessories offering through traditional artisanal approaches. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
How does a “regular, degular, schmegular” girl from the Bronx, N.Y., become a Grammy-nominated artist with a certified platinum record in less than a year? Call it the @iamcardib come up. The 25-year-old has become a musical sensation, and the fashion world is taking note. “If I could describe her style I would say drama. She’s really into the dramatics,” says Cardi B’s stylist @kollincarter. See how Carter styles her bold and out there looks with the link in bio. #wwdfashion
“There is no formula. There is no guideline. I can watch Ted Talks all day, but there is no one who can advise me on exactly what it is I should be doing,” said @ronniefieg, CEO of @kith, in an interview with WWD’s @ariahughes at the brand’s new SoHo office in Manhattan. Head to WWD.com to see how Fieg went from hanging out in shoe stockrooms at 13 to building his own business. #wwdfashion (📷: @weston.wells)
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion