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Jul 10, 2024

A 30-minute gown vs. 800-hour creations: What’s the future of couture?

On one side, Balenciaga’s one-time-wear black nylon drape; on the other, Dolce&Gabbana’s hyghly artisanal Alta Moda. Couture stands at a crossroads


What’s happening in haute couture today? It’s like watching a grand fashion saga unfold in two riveting acts. On one side, we have the timeless celebration of craftsmanship, where couture is all about meticulous handwork, intricate details, and creating precious, unique pieces for life’s special moments. Picture the dreamy, four-day extravaganza of Dolce&Gabbana’s Alta Moda, Alta Gioielleria and Alta Sartoria in Sardinia—a true fantasy come to life.

@dolcegabbana Experience the artistry of #DGAltaSartoria. Intricate floral embroideries and filigree details reveal #DGFattoAMano excellence inspired by the Sant'Efisio Parade and Mamoiada Carnival. #DolceGabbana #MadeInItaly ♬ suono originale - Dolce & Gabbana

But there’s another, more rebellious side to this story. Modern couture is breaking the mould, defying traditional definitions, and constantly keeping us on our toes. Leading this charge is Balenciaga’s Demna. His latest haute couture collection turned heads and sparked debates when he sent a dress down the runway that was crafted in just 30 minutes and designed to fall apart after a single wear. Talk about making a statement!

@culted Did you see the final look at Balenciaga’s Couture FW24 show? #balenciaga #demna #demnagvasalia #balenciagacouture #hautecouture #hautecoutureweek #parisfashionweek #fashion #fyp #foryoupage #greenscreen ♬ original sound - CULTED

In the world of haute couture, where designers and their teams can spend hundreds of hours on a single piece, this kind of audacity is both shocking and intriguing. Couture has always been the star of French fashion, a world where only the highest quality craftsmanship counts, serving an elite clientele of about 4,000 people globally. So, when Demna’s creation was described as “a fast fashion iteration of haute couture” by critics like Victoria Moss, it set off a storm of opinions.

@interviewmag #balenciaga creative director #demnagvasalia explores his latest collection backstage at #parisfashionweek 🤳 #tiktokfashion #pfw ♬ original sound - Interview Magazine

Some people view this as a departure from couture’s essence—where garments are meant to be exquisitely crafted, perfectly fitted, and enduring. Others, such as Perfect Magazine’s editor-in-chief Bryan Yambao, also known by his online moniker BryanBoy, find profound meaning in the fleeting nature of such a piece. For him and many others, there’s a unique luxury in something made just for you, to be worn only once, much like the exclusive experiences sought by most haute couture clients.

Fashion critic Ryan Yip draws a poetic parallel by likening Demna’s dress to the Buddhist monks’ practice of destroying sand mandalas to represent life’s impermanence. In this light, the dress becomes a powerful statement on the ephemeral beauty and delicate craftsmanship that define haute couture. Unlike other designs, which can be altered and worn again, this dress’s impermanence makes it a secret shared only between the couturier and the wearer.

@thecut Balenciaga’s final look at Paris Couture Week was a dress made up of nearly 50 meters of fabric and could only be worn once… thoughts? #parisfashionweek #tiktokfashion #balenciaga ♬ BIG UP - INJI

The evolution of haute couture raises big questions about its future. Demna’s bold approach challenges the industry’s traditional norms, pushing the boundaries of what couture can be. His “ephemeral couture performance” with its butterfly motifs captures the spirit of transformation and the transient nature of fashion itself.

Despite the mixed reactions, one thing is clear: haute couture is at a pivotal moment. It’s a blend of reverence for its storied past and experimentation in its transformative present. Whether through the classic, hand-crafted elegance of Dolce&Gabbana or the avant-garde provocations of Balenciaga, haute couture today is a fusion of tradition and rebellion, each redefining the landscape of high fashion in its own way.

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Un post condiviso da Dolce&Gabbana (@dolcegabbana)



Angelo Ruggeri
Journalist, Master&Programme Tutor; Fashion Styling Course Leader, Milan