Élan - BTS - Swarovski (9)

If you follow Pakistani fashion (or our blog) you would probably know by now that we have a fabulous evening of fashion coming our way courtesy PFDC and Swarovski, the PFDC Swarovski Crystal Couturiers Collection.

We did however feel that we had used the word ‘Haute Couture’ too frivolously for too long and really wanted to get to know the spirit of the beautiful art meets craft. We turned to one of our favourite designers and couturier par excellence Khadijah Shah of Elan to tell us all there is to know about it.

WHAT IS HAUTE COUTURE?

Khadijah Shah: To start with, haute couture is a name protected by Paris Chamber of Commerce and a garment can only be considered haute couture if,  the designer has a private clientele and offers personal fittings for made-to-measure clothing. Secondly, they have a fully functional workshop in Paris that employs a minimum of 20 people. Lastly, they must show two collections a year that include both daytime and formal evening wear.

DOES THAT MAKE COUTURE VERY LIMITED?

Khadijah Shah: Speaking strictly of Haute Couture, there are only 2000 odd clients which were all initially only French socialites but now it’s a more global phenomenon but if you talk about ‘couture’ then of course it is much more vast. Very talented couture designers hail from all parts of the world including Pakistan.

WHATS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COUTURE AND HAUTE COUTURE?

Khadijah Shah: As mentioned, Haute Couture is protected by Couture simply means high end fashionable custom made clothing.

HOW LONG DOES A COUTURE PIECE TAKE TO MAKE:

Khadijah Shah: If you speak of globally renowned Couturiers, some dresses have taken as much as 700 hours of work as each piece is hand embellished and stitched. I don’t think it’s very different anywhere else either as a good couture piece requires a lot of attention. I guess an average couture piece could take around 200 – 400 hours… I can speak of the Elan opening piece for the Swarovski Crystal Couturiers for the Le Bijou which was finished nearly 500 hours.

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IF THERE IS SO MUCH EFFORT, COUTURE MUST BE EXPENSIVE:

Khadijah Shah: So much effort going into a piece of course has it’s cost which makes couture piece more expensive but they are almost always bespoke giving clients a unique, unparalleled piece which is practically an heirloom.

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DO DESIGNERS MAKE A LOT OF MONEY FROM COUTURE?

Khadijah Shah: Globally, couture is not a profitable business owing to the high cost and limited clientele. It is mostly for prestige that designers would attempt couture as it allows them to truly express themselves and help create a style and image for the brand. Consider it ‘creative’ investment in the brand.

WHY IS COUTURE IMPORTANT FOR REGULAR FASHION LOVERS?

Khadijah Shah: Couture in many ways sets the mood for Pret a Porter, so for anyone who loves fashion its the perfect start. Also, it really showcases the best of craftsmanship and of course the designers truly show their range.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR COUTURE COLLECTION FOR SWAROVSKI?

Khadijah Shah: Le Bijou is couture in all it’s luxury and glamour. You should expect dramatic ensembles elaborately draped in shades of silver, gold, ivory, lavender, peach and dove grey. The line features a blend of artistically conceived cuts adorned with gem and Swarovski crystal encrusted embellishments crafted to an extraordinary level of quality and detail.

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Written by Sadaf Zarrar
Founding Partner