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Gateway to Sustainable fashion via Couture


There has been a lot of conversation around the recently concluded couture week in Paris. Since some time now questions have been raised about whether couture has a place in today’s world. To quote Business of Fashion – What season is this exactly? What is on show? Is it couture, demi-couture, resort? Man Repeller questioned if couture had gone too casual with attendees in denims. In fact, denims were presented at the Fall 2017 couture week.

Image credit: @voguemagazine

Maybe couture should not and cannot be boxed into seasons or occasions. Maybe couture is meant to cause confusion and left to the interpretation of the individual – much like art. Because, what is couture if not the highest form of wearable art? In fact, one of the most interesting Dutch couturiers – Viktor & Rolf presented a very literal manifestation of wearable art in their Fall 2015 couture collection.

For me, that collection was asking the question – Should fashion be restricted to the concept of “covering our bodies”? If the answer were yes, then maybe, couture is one place where all the crazy ideas could come together and a place where fashion goes beyond this visceral idea. Couture as a fashion mecca for starting a conversation, making a statement, talking about thoughts, ideas, feelings.

However, fashion is also a business and the genius of a designer is when they take these abstract concepts of couture and distill them into clothes that are available off the rack for us mere mortals to wear. John Galliano gave a fascinating explanation of how Maison Margiela’s highly conceptual artisanal collection is distilled into RTW, all the way down to accessories during the BoF Voices event. I wonder if all houses follow this journey or is it about being specific to a collection and theme and each collection deserves a new theme.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that a piece in your wardrobe was born from an abstract concept amounting to wearable art and that you are now adding to that story with your own interpretation of that piece? It might even encourage us to view our wardrobe as our own personal art collection and hence each piece is curated and has a story and isn’t a disposable item we use to “cover our body”. Each piece is an heirloom, treasured and cherished and passed on to future generations until it cannot be worn any more. If all of us thought about our clothes this way, we probably could solve many issues plaguing fashion today such as mass consumption, human rights, pollution. The incessant chatter about the changes afoot in the fashion industry might amount to this.

Fashion as wearable art entwined with personal stories.

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