The magic of haute couture

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It’s haute couture week in Paris – get out the superlatives.

There’s a lovely article by Jess Carter-Morley on haute couture in today’s Guardian.

It is very rare these days to get a fashion article so thoughtful – at least in the British press. You normally have to look at Suzy Menkes, say, in the International Herald Tribune, to get any bloody sense talked about fashion. The Guardian’s normal attitude with the ghastly Hadley Freeman, for instance, is horribly patronising.

In France, fashion is treated with deadly seriousness. It is a bigger industry than steel. 

I’ll repeat that – it is a bigger industry than steel.

It employs more people. It brings more money into the economy. The French Government ignores it at its peril.

And fashion is something Paris is proud of. As a Vogue editor once pointed out, the French have a refinement in making things, and it is something they like to show off.

Sadly, in Britain, which is a killjoy society at the best of times (not for nothing are Brits known as ‘whingeing Poms’ everywhere they go), fashion is treated as if it’s completely frou-frou nonsense, rather than an industry like any other, with deadlines and quotas and stock and employees and shipping needs and transport needs and disposal issues.

The truth is, non of us is unaffected by fashion – it is not for ‘other’ people. Every day, every one of us has to find something to wear, and by that means we fuel the industry.

Anyway, since I am digressing, what this article captures as few others do is the magic of the haute couture – the theatricality of it, the beauty of it, the perfection of it. Of course, it is a total waste of time, just as Cirque du Soleil is a waste of time and having a massage is a waste of time and every work of art is a waste of time.

But then, if we’re going to be this functional about time, as Joanna Lumley once said: "Oh might as well just give up and die of boredom…"

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