Couture is Alive
I am reading a book at the moment called The End of Fashion. It states that not only Paris couture houses but also the labels over the ‘pond’ have to sell out and rely on licensing and perfume deals which offer a reliable money machine and a lifeline for their businesses.
One example of extreme cost is a Thiery Mugler show which allegedly cost $3 million.
His shows are decadent and delicious but impossible to host merely from the sale of frocks. Perfume and licensing allowed designers to design whatever they wanted because the revenue from such ventures kept them afloat. Dior has survived due to 200 licenses. Pierre Cardan has had 800 licensing deals!
French designers escaped the nuances and the rigors of mass production, international marketing and retailing. BUT over licensing saturated the world with designer goods that did not live up to their prestigious labels. The bubble burst and the public stopped buying. I will however argue that couture is not dead. The beast is alive and kicking!I have just been helping with the Gold label at Vivienne Westwoods’s studios and witnessed how busy the Gold label is,but also have witnessed the extravagant lost leaders made for the show.
My argument is that a couture label can be run without spending a fortune or selling out. With online access to a world market I have found that I can offer a bespoke and made to measure service at an affordable price.Skype fittings make overseas fittings now an option.
I have decided not to sell to retail outlets due to the massive mark-up (A staggering 3%) of which as a designer, I would receive very little. Also what’s the sense in pursuing an avenue which is dying. Missing out this middleman means I can offer a brand new pricing structure to my clients. Instead of heinously expensive catwalk shows I rely on photographs with a difference, showing personality rather than using mundane studio product shots.
So I still do have my overheads but I am in the enjoyable process of developing a Beyond Burlesque fragrance without selling out. Keep up with the times and keep up with fashion.