Fashion Week’s just finished and, as fashion addicts, we are still dreaming of the incredible clothes we saw on the runway and coming to the realization that our actual wardrobe is ridiculous. Well, as I sit and wait for the winning lottery number, I thought it would be nice and kinder on your waller to know where to get some designer clothes dupes in order to create your Carrie Bradshaw wardrobe. Fashion, yes! But on a budget.
Speaking of Bradshaw, have you ever had a dream of her famous Manolo Blahnik satin pumps? These are probably the stiletto shown the most on TV. If you don’t feel like spending your entire salary on a pair, I suggest these from Dune London.
These Stella McCartney wedges are a must, especially if you spent spring-summer wearing heels to pretend you are as tall as Heidi Klum. Walking with wedges is also way easier than walking in a pair stilettos. You will find this perfect dupe at Shein’s.
Getting yourself an inspired aviator leather jacket is just as important. Acne Studio proposes the perfect one, full black perfect shape… If you are into this trend, this dupe from Warehouse will satisfy you.
We have seen these gathered Yves Saint Laurent high boots everywhere. The Haute Couture brand also made a silver version of it that’s higher and with more glitter and obviously more difficult to wear. The black version is a good alternative if you are looking for everyday shoes. You will find this perfect dupe at Urban Outfiters. The only difference you will notice is that the Yves Saint Laurent ones are in leather whereas the dupe is in faux suede.
Haute Couture brands’ handbags are probably the most copied items. This basic black one from Yves Saint Laurent iss not make an exception and we won’t complain about it. It’s beautiful, goes with every outfit, and can also be worn at night. You will find this dupe at Mango.
Is haute couture still relevant? That’s the question many fashion industry heavyweights have been asking as of late. As a flurry of rising fast fashion powerhouses, online shopping and now the emergence of see now buy now collections become a major trend within the industry, Parisian haute couture has been seeing a slow decline in customer interest and even industry interest. With many iconic houses opting to shut down their haute couture operations and others only being kept on the official schedule out of good grace and respect. Many believe that the iconic couture industry will, sooner that later, die out. But there’s an underlying question that can help answer the big question in regards to the current state of haute couture, and that’s why. Why is haute couture in such jeopardy of becoming the next big fashion faux pas?
To start, the biggest factor that’s come to affect couture is most definitely the rise of pret-a-porter. For the better part of human history, most clothing was either handmade or at least sewn on a machine but made to fit the customer like a glove. The idea of ready to wear collections that came in standard sizes was unheard of. Whether a person was young or old, rich or poor, someone was most likely making clothing meant to fit their specific measurements. That was truly the essence of haute couture. Whether a garment required the diligently trained hand of a master couturier to sew pearls into a silk bodice for an aristocratic woman or the caring hand of a mother making a dress for her child, couture had a way of coming into anyone’s home. Now some may argue that true couture started in the ateliers of Belle Epoque masters like Madame Lanvin and Monsieur Patou, but couture has truly been around for centuries, from the togas fashioned by the Greeks long ago, to the panniered gowns of the French court. Couture has been present throughout human history for ages.
So why put all that wonderful history to waste in favour of ready made garments. It comes down to cost. Historically, haute couture has been attributed to the rich upper echelon of the world and as the human population began to grow and go through revolutions in business, trade, and technology. The need for previous industries to quicken their production speed and product output was essential, causing the first real blow to haute couture. As time went on people forgot about the idea of handmade clothing and began to equate it with something only out of touch old money and nouveau riche people cared for. From then on the fashion industry began to grow into a commercialized form of revenue. Iconic houses like Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior had no choice but to begin incorporating pret-a-porter collections after designers like Yves Saint Laurent hit massive success in the market when he introduced his first ready to wear collection.
Another main reason why the fashion community has slowly lost interest in haute couture is due to the sterilization of individual style within the industry itself. As trends become the norm, luxury fashion houses are forced to create collections based on the year’s biggest trends as opposed to collections based on innovation and creativity. For example, the legendary house of Christian Lacroix dominated the world of fashion from the late 80’s up until its final collection in 2009. However, even though Lacroix was one of the most iconic and innovative designers for his time, his brand failed to ever turn any profit and was ultimately forced to close its doors due to massive debts and waning public interest. Likewise, design houses like Ungaro, Hanae Mori, and most recently Saint Laurent, have all halted their production of haute couture due to the massive expense it takes to create and the lack of clientele to justify its production.
With all that said, it seems that the future couture has been decided. With its slow but relentless decline in popularity and need, in a few years, couture may become completely obsolete. This, in turn, brings the argument back to its initial question, is haute couture still relevant? And the answer is yes. Couture should undoubtedly still be considered relevant. In an industry that’s become so obsessed with profit as opposed to artistic expression, wouldn’t it be important to keep something that showcases the art behind fashion? Rather than pumping out uniformity all year around, couture should be preserved alongside ready-to-wear to keep the craftsmanship and artistry alive. Like Simon Porte Jacquemus said, “I would like to see more poetry, less industry; because fashion is nothing without poetry.” Another very important reason to keep haute couture alive is for the sake of the seamstresses, tailors, and ateliers that devote their lives to perfecting their craft. Since couture must be made by hand, there are hundreds of ateliers working in various couture houses which carry the knowledge and the expertise to create extravagant creations that cannot be duplicated by a machine. Putting these valued and respected team members out of work would be a grave injustice to them and a grave injustice to the fashion industry as a whole. If the fashion industry rids itself of couture and the experts who make it possible, a piece of valuable knowledge would be lost for future generations. Who would be there to teach aspiring couturiers their secrets? Who will be there to uphold the artistry and standards that legends like Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga created decades ago? Who will be there to take our wildest dreams and bring them to life?
In the end, questioning the relevance of haute couture is question fashion itself. Without couture, fashion itself becomes irrelevant. The storytelling becomes irrelevant. Without couture, the fashion industry becomes just another industrial engine, pumping out factory made clothing that doesn’t represent anything other than profit and uniformity.
Next year, the world will finally have the opportunity to experience the full range of Rei Kawakubo’s astounding career as a designer under the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After years of being relatively unnoticed outside the high fashion world, this exhibit is truly the first time Kawakubo’s works beyond her commercial endeavors will be available on view for those outside the fashion world. However, some people feel that Kawakubo’s career has not produced enough influential moments to garner an event of such scale dedicated to her life’s work. This raises an important question: is there a more well known and successful designer out there who deserves a Met Gala exhibition more than Kawakubo does? The truth is that there aren’t many designers deserving of this more than she. Her career and influence — although sometimes looked over — are far more important than people realize. The time has come for her to tell her story as a designer, a woman, and an artist. Here is Novella’s list on why Rei Kawakubo is the most deserving a subject for next year’s Met Gala showcase.
Anti Fashion and Avant Gardism:
Kawakubo graduated with a degree in fine arts and literature from Tokyo’s Keio Univerity and worked in the advertising department of a textile company and as a fashion stylist before becoming a designer. Most people would have never guessed that someone with a degree in fine arts and literature would ever become one of fashion world’s most beloved and forward thinking avant gardists. But that’s the beauty of Kawakubo’s story: she came from a background that requires formal training and understanding rules for success. And with that, she became a world renowned fashion icon.
Her first collection, shown in Paris in 1981, set the wheel in motion for Kawakubo and Comme Des Garçons’s rise to the avant-garde throne. Incorporating knitwear, distressed finishes, holes, tattered garments, and unconventional shapes, Kawakubo was able to contrast her collection against the glitz and excesses of the 80’s; sequins and lycra were challenged by the image of a woman in tattered clothes and unkempt hair, clad in shades of black, white, and grey. This idea of destroyed and sombre clothing went against the grain of fashion trend at the time. It pushed against the status quo of fashion and told the world that fashion didn’t necessarily have to be what the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin deemed beautiful — fashion could be raw and unorthodox and still tell a story. Kawakubo’s contribution to the avant-garde design has inspired many of today’s most important avant-gardists, such as Helmut Lang and Martin Margiela who have taken inspiration from Comme Des Garçons’s early work in the 80’s.
She’s one of the Most Successful Female Designers in the history of Fashion:
It’s safe to say that Kawakubo has built a legacy that will withstand the test of time long after she’s passed, which, in an industry that’s been largely male driven and dominated for decades, is no small feat. Very little room has ever been left for women to achieve success in the fashion industry, so seeing a woman like Kawakubo dominate the fashion industry, while simultaneously creating garments that most would never expect a woman to create, is a call for celebration in itself.
In the light of the outcome of recent presidential election in the United States that left Hillary Clinton just short of becoming the nation’s first female president, the fact that Kawakubo is a successful woman in position of power is a significant reason for her place at the Met Gala. Conversations regarding gender equality and various forces that stymie its advance are not restricted to politics but rather implicit in all industries. It is important to showcase women who have achieved global success and reached the top of their professions as a way of inspiring and motivating other young women and men to pursue their passions without fear of failure due to their gender.
Furthermore, Kawakubo’s exhibit would also showcase how a Japanese woman’s contribution to the world of fashion largedly dominated by Western and European ideals of beauty. The Met Gala has a chance to allow people to understand and appreciate beauty as seen, voiced, and interpreted by a woman of color.
Kawakubo’s place in a Met Gala exhibit should be secure by the fact that she is one of the most successful contemporary designers in the fashion industry. Though she started as a virtually unheard of designer in the Western world in the 80’s, she has been able to build a brand that now pulls in over $220 million dollars in revenue each year. This impressive number shows that Kawakubo knows exactly what her current clientele wants from the brand and what the would-be buyers are looking for from brands like Comme Des Garcons. Kawakubo raised her brand into a global empire byincorporating and reinventing her brand through a handful of brand-off labels like Comme Des Garçons Shirt, Comme Des Garçons Homme Plus, Tricot Comme Des Garçons, and Comme Des Garçons Comme Des Garçons. This ability to expand her horizons and reinvent her brand has allowed Kawakubo to reach a wider audience of tastes and incomes.
Political Statements and Social Awareness:
Like many of her modern contemporaries, Kawakubo takes a lot of her inspiration from the world around her. Major political events, social justice movements, and global changes have been ingredients in her collections. Take her spring 2015 collection, for example. After a year of civil war and bloodshed in the Middle East, Kawakubo presented a collection dripping in the deepest shades of crimson imaginable. Another example is Spring 2012, wherein Kawakubo expressed her feelings on the tragedies in Japan by creating an uplifting show in all white that felt like a visualization of rebirth or a reversion to a state of purity and hope after the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake. It’s statements like these that solidify Kawakubo’s position not only as a designer of change, but also as a designer for the people — a designer who can voice a situation and amplify it through thought provoking clothing and design.
The Fashion Itself:
Now, there are many things that make Kawakubo the best choice for this year’s Met Gala, but there is still one other very important factor that sets her apart from other designers: the fashion! After three decades of being head designer at Comme Des Garçons, Kawakubo has proven herself time and time again that she is a driving force within the fashion industry. Known to never repeat herself, her evolution from monochrome black and white avant-garde to contemporary experimental fashion powerhouse is one for the history books. With countless collections being held in high regard and many of them ending on the “best of” lists around the world, Kawakubo has set the standard for what avant-garde truly is. Now this isn’t just a case of her designs being so wildly different that no one else can compete or compare. There are countless emerging avant-garde designers out there that have been inspired by her and present collections in a similar manner. This comes down to Kawakubo’s talent in interpreting and filtering the world around her to create storylines with depth. She isn’t just any old commercial designer who relies on shock value for a sale. Her clothing deeply mirrors the world it’s made in. It’s art in the purest form, a moment captured and preserved forever in every stitch and drape of fabric. Her understanding of the limits and borders that fashion has created for women and her undeniable aggression at breaking through those gender lines and restraints makes her one of the most talented and educated designers out there. It’s clear to see that fashion really isn’t an engine for profit for Kawakubo. It’s a way of using art to scream into the uncertainty of the world and make sense of it.