why couture is as relevant as game of thrones

Just because you can't buy it, doesn't mean you can't buy into it.

by Sarah Raphael
08 July 2015, 1:49pm

I never got couture. I thought it was out of date and inaccessible; something bourgeois that existed because it had existed. At best, an old art for very rich women and venerable fashion critics. So I attended the Dior couture show in Paris yesterday hoping to be enlightened and, of course, I was.

Standing on the Wimbledon-worthy lawn in front of the ornate colored glass structure that would house the show was Grimes (looking nothing like her recent i-D photo by Alasdair McLellan) sporting newly bleached blonde hair, round megastar shades and exuding a general air of rebellion. Before I sat down, my mind was changed, because if Grimes was there, then couture is as relevant as Game of Thrones. If she's into it, then so will her legions of fans be, and just because you can't buy it doesn't mean you can't buy into it - in the same way you can't physically be in Game of Thrones but that wouldn't necessarily stop you eating a still-beating stallion's heart…

So there was Grimes, and Emily Blunt and Lupita Nyong'o and Rosie Huntington-Whitely and a woman wearing a huge bell-shaped couture skirt, who sat down somehow. The show notes spoke of The Garden of Earthly Delights, the name of the freaky, damning painting by Hieronymus Bosch that depicts purity, temptation and the consequences of the Fall. The catwalk, a saturated Willy Wonka purple, was laden with oversized forbidden fruits, as imagined as Wonka's chocolate room. And the models - tall, otherworldly visions of purity -walked among them, impervious.

The clothes - does it go without saying? - were exquisite. Sumptuous red riding hood capes reinstated the idea of temptation and semi-transparent billowing white dresses transformed purity to desire. Metal structures were placed over the purity dresses like armor, symbolizing chastity and strength. Before, I thought of couture as an ultra-feminine, outdated wedding gown that had nothing to do with 2015 or with how women want to dress. Then I was filled with that fashion feeling as sparkly disco platforms came out on the purple catwalk and for the first time in my life I felt truly excited by a sleeve, and I wanted more than anything to own a pair of those delicious velvet flares, that take a genius to make so instantaneously covetable.

Speaking of that genius, I haven't yet mentioned Raf, who despite any preconceptions - or misconceptions - of couture, is one of the most relevant designers working today. "The past is not romantic for me. It is the future that is romantic for me", he says in the documentary about his first Dior couture show, released earlier this year. 

Perhaps the reason there are so few designers doing couture is because there are so few designers who have the vision to make it relevant. But Raf does. And now I'm going to invest in couture -- good heavens not financially, but mentally. I'm going to educate myself in it because yesterday I learned that it's not stuffy, it's sexy, and it's not old, it's elegant, and it's relevant.


Images courtesy Dior

Raf Simons