We saw exquisite handmade gowns and we saw tracksuits. We saw impeccable tailorings and we saw snoods. Far from being a dusty old has-been, couture is keeping up with kids, as Paula Reed reports in the new issue of Grazia.
With Raf Simons newly installed at (65-year-old) Dior; Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli confirming their superstar status with a stellar show at (53-year-old) Valentino, and Riccardo Tisci delivering another tour de force for (60-year-old) Givenchy, it became clear to all that anything old can be new again.
As Paula notes, couture owes much to Karl Lagerfeld for showing that renewal is key to survival. When he took over at Chanel 30 years ago, it was a dusty old institution. The relentless reinventor is constantly challenging expectations: why not have couture jeans and accessorise an entire show with flat shoes? But in order to survive, he also notes that couture is about exclusivity. 'It's not a red carpet opportunity,' he says.
In a new interview with Cathy Horyn for the New York Times, the designer reveals that he has had clients cancel a couture order after seeing a celebrity wearing the dress. Yikes. You see, when private (and ridiculously wealthy) clients pay up to $50,000 for a bespoke dress, they don't expect to see Blake Lively types flaunting it on the red carpet first, especially if she's been given it for free. Chanel couture has been seen on the A-list backs of Diane Kruger, Emma Stone and Elizabeth Olsen, but it's very rare that famous types are treated to the French fashion house's super-luxe creations.
Despite this, there are more couture swishes gracing the world's red carpets than you'd think. Elie Saab, Giambattista Valli and Christian Dior creations have all been spotted in recent months and let's not Sarah Jessica Parker and Lily Collins rocked up to this year's Met Ball wearing gowns from Valentino's couture catwalk. Meanwhile Donatella is more than happy to kit Lady Gaga out in Atelier Versace creations for nothing more than a trip through the airport. What's more, Kim Kardashian took couture week by storm this season, suggesting the reality TV star might be Stéphane Rolland's latest customer.
So with the new wave of designers breathing fresh life into the historical houses and attracting a younger audience, will we be seeing more celebrities in couture despite Karl's comments? Grazia Daily has totted up our top 10 couture gowns of 2012 as seen on Michelle Williams, Katy Perry and Cheryl Cole and crammed them into an oh-so-lavish gallery above. Go on, treat yourself.
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