On & Around the Street

SLOANE STREET’S COUTURE HOUSES

This week in Paris, the most glamorous, sumptuous, intricately crafted gowns will sashay down the runway as part of the twice-yearly Haute Couture shows. And several of the brands on the exclusive roster of labels have a home on Sloane Street.

Entry to the official Haute Couture schedule is strictly policed by the Chambre de commerce et d’Industrie de Paris, which ensures that fashion houses meet the stringent guidelines, including having a Paris-based atelier with more than 20 staff.

These shows are a showcase for a brand’s most outlandish ideas, where budget is no limit to ambition – at Monday’s Dior show, 150,000 live orchids lined the catwalk as wallpaper and ceiling, underscoring Raf Simons’ delicate vision for autumn/winter 2014.

It is also an expression of financial wellbeing. Versace, for example, stopped showing couture for eight years when it entered choppy waters during the recession of the early 2000s. It returned to the schedule in 2012, and the general understanding was that the brand’s financial woes were well behind it.

Business aside, this is a forum for fantasy frocks. Feathers, gems, lace, embroidery, beads, sequins and countless other decorative touches are applied by hand in Paris by the “petits mains” in the couture ateliers, who can spend weeks constructing the fabric and form of a single dress.

Valentino, Atelier Versace, Dior and Chanel are all among the storied maisons showing this week. Drop into their Sloane Street stores for a glimpse into their glamorous worlds.
Image credit: Style.com