Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Toujours Couture

Givenchy, British Vogue September 2008

Givenchy's announcement that it will no longer show couture, raises the greater question of couture's destiny. The house will continue to make custom clothing by appointment, which is how branded couture began with Charles Frederick Worth. The art of couture however is not simply a product of consumption but the most masterful design work of the recent centuries. Its continuation is guaranteed in part by the fact that all originally single made clothing is couture, but the grand scale is what is at risk.

Givenchy Couture, Sunday Times, July 2009

The couture show is more than an elaborate spectacle. The shows function as avant garde, to inspire and challenge, making them culturally significant and reaching a much greater audience through the press. The question then is not if couture will continue but how it can continue to publicly promote aesthetic experimentation. In an era of increasing eco ethics and global justice, both real and ideological decoupage is increasingly negated. We may feel as though decadence is a thing of the past but elegance and style are timeless and essential to Western cultural values, especially in France. The solution is relevancy and growth, as preservation may be the only thing that ensures death.

Givenchy, 2007

Givenchy, F 2009

If couture as design and cultural practice ends then we can only hope the experimentation will live in ready to wear. Resort collections are an interesting place between that designers can sometimes use for more limited runs. The idea of clothing in edition is part of what allows fashion to be regarded as a distinguished object of appreciation.

Givenchy Resort, 2010

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