Couture collection dazzles

Twice a year, the designers and ateliers of Paris deliver haute couture shows to a very private selection of clients that includes celebrities, socialites, magazine editors and royalty. Monday began the spring 2010 shows, with Christian Dior and Giorgio Armani’s couture collection Armani Privé.

While only a select few women in the world can afford these inspiring creations, it is the delight of many to admire the beauty and craftsmanship of each piece of artwork.

Haute couture literally means “high sewing.” And while the word couture is thrown around casually, only a select few designers create couture pieces.

Haute couture is very specific in that it is custom-made. The government of France must license a designer wanting to create an official haute couture piece. From series of fittings to its hand-sewing by the finest ateliers in the world, each piece is unique to its owner, sometimes taking up to 150 man hours to complete.

In a 2006 Forbes article, local Houston philanthropist and socialite Becca Cason Thrash said, “You amortize couture. You buy a piece and you wear it in Houston, then you wear it again in New York, then London, then Paris. You put it away for a couple of years and when you pull it out, it looks all brand new again.”

It is no secret that haute couture is expensive, sometimes as much as $100,000 for one gown, but some pieces fetch millions.

However, some designers are as sought after as artists such as Picasso or Monet, and collectors know that couture is an investment. Over time, the value of the investment only increases.

“You’re dealing with a very small market on both occasions,” Joan DeJean, author of The Essence of Style said in the same Forbes article. “Couture is the perfect example of something that is always the central issue in any kind of luxury goods economy—that is to have something that is virtually unique, and not quite unique. You don’t want to have someone looking like you at the Oscars, but you do want to know that you’ll have the best style of the season.”

Who doesn’t want the perfect dress? Perfection never goes out of style.

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