26 May 2013

Two years in writing about haute couture makes me know, that A LOT of people don't really know what that is. They think it's merely a better version of dresses hung on the trail in lavish boutiques costing a little more than a small house. One point is undeniably correct, that it is better than a usual dress in a high end brand store. But why do people really buy it? Why would people spend a budget for a lavish Maldives vacation for a single dress?

Well, the high price comes with high commitment to quality and intricacy, with meticulous craftsmanships and finest fabrics and extraordinaire embellishments with endless period of making. Then why is it not available on the regular shops? And how could people actually possess it?

It's actually there, same like other dresses, just in different section (and just in the main boutique, mostly in Paris). And answering the second question is slightly more difficult. If you happen to have an extra (lots of extra) banknotes or the harvest time of your money tree is around the corner, or maybe you have provided a separate bank account for this specific reason; wedding, presidential inauguration, etc., then maybe you already know what to do to have that dress made for you. But if you haven't, could you just win a lottery or inherit from lost-long grandparents and you have no idea where to start, here's a little detail.

I will take an example of Elie Saab Haute Couture dresses. I know this Lebanese couturiers has been making all the women-- Hollywood celebrities to royal families go crazy. Goddess-styled dresses he made are indeed unbelievably amazing. Not so crazy in shapes and silhouette, but the details are enough to make you dizzy how it could possibly be made.

First is to make the appointment, and it can be made in his Champs-Élysées atelier in Paris or in Beirut, Lebanon (you can find the address down later). The initial meeting could be scheduled up to three months (yes, THREE months) so keep in mind that if you will have the occasion with the dress on in June, you should make the appointment seven moths (!) before, since it will take at least three to four months to make. If you have a model body, than there's a good news for you. Designers don't make many samples for the couture dresses, so if your size is a bit bigger or smaller (lucky you if so) than model's size, you can just get the actual runway dress and it would be altered to fit your wish and your exact size, which will save a lot of time.

Then comes to the first visit. If you already have decision which dress you want, it's good, but let me remind you. In the boutique, you will find the actual other dresses, and couture clients have access to Saab’s archive of past and current seasons, so you should not be too decisive at first. A lot of others might be more beautiful after you see it in real!

The third step might be the most important. After your body measurement taken, deciding which model that you want is equally important. You would have to decide the colours, alteration (maybe making it shorter, making the waist more accentuating, bolder shoulder, and so on. This total customisation can be done only if you prefer making the dress from scratch, which will cost you more also. The less wish, the less cost, just like any other things in life. It is almost impossible to know the exact number on the haute couture price tag. Literally, there is no price tag. First reason, it is in their nature that couture houses are very secretive about two things; the name of their clients and the price of their dresses, so that women who dare to call for an appointment should be ready for spare money. The second, it also depends on your body size, the colours you pick, the alterations you wish, and who you are. If you are a movie star (which I'm so glad that you make it reading my blog), you'll definitely get discount, recalling that your move and your face is some sort of a billboard, so it's a part of win-win situation in term of advertising. For a big night like Oscar's red carpet, you might be able to get it for free. If you're somebody who has no advertising value,  as a consideration, the gown below costs around $117,000. Yes, six digits, which is so common in haute couture.

 Photo by Umberto Fratini

The real wedding dress of the collection (the final exit, usually) can cost more than $500,000. But most of the time, since it's just one look of bridal per collection, it is rarely accessible if you don't have a strong connection with the designer or your name is not much appearing on Google search result. However, most of the people (aside celebrities) will make a regular look which is already top of the top to be made as bridal gown.

Below is Tanya Taylor in her wedding dress made by Elie Saab inspired by Elie Saab haute couture Fall 2012 collection, so you can see how far you can do the alteration and customisation. Buying an haute couture gown, and you will be THE owner of the gown. The only one. And she looks breath-taking.  Well, you can not go wrong in Elie Saab.

 Photo courtesy of and Peter Stigter

Four months after the initial appointment, the first fitting comes. And it would need one or two other fittings in the next two months (yes, endless fitting is just aimed to make sure that the dress would fit perfectly like panties. You don't want your six-digit dress will fall and flow like baked potato skin around your body).

And after exhausting hustle and bustle, your dress will be delivered to you in a protecting garment bag, and ready to rock your most fabulous day of the year, and maybe of your life.


Signorefandi, women are so lucky...