As John Galliano at the House of Dior sent '40s-inspired nipped-in waists with dominatrix-style belts and Karl Lagerfeld for the House of Chanel launched futuristic cocoon-like pastel gowns into the fashion stratosphere this July, I couldn't help but be a little assured that, come fall, everyone shopping at Kohl's, Bebe, Express and Forever 21 would be sporting a watered-down version of these catwalk creations.
Let's face it, there has long been talk in fashion circles concerning the purpose of couture's very existence. Here is a world in which balance is meaningless, in which theatricality and overembellishment is never tempered. And the ready-to-wear world has become increasingly fashion-centric. When fast fashion outlets like H&M and Zara can translate runway styles in a matter of days and retail behemoths like Target are offering capsule collections from some of the most current and innovative designers, does couture still have a place?
I would like to think that it does, if only as a stepping stone for inspiration. My lovely Gloria, in particular, saw the shows as a reminder that she should be "more creative" in her everyday ensembles. Keisha, a regular fashion show attendee, always waits "with bated breath to see if the ideas will work in real life."
Of course, the couture spectacles will be minimized in effect as they will be in price. Fast fashion stores will be offering their versions for under $100 as opposed to the average couture price of the tens of thousands. But keep in mind the old adage: "You get what you pay for."
As I sat through the autumnal gowns and lace and organza confections being sent down the runway at the Georges Chakra show with Keisha on one side and Gloria on the other, I thought about balance not only in the clothes in front of me, but in the women beside me. How would each one translate what they saw? How would each one temper the fantasy with reality?
For Gloria, the couture shows made her "more willing to experiment with color and shapes -- and show a little more skin!" For Keisha, the shows served as a reminder to "take more risks and love every moment."
My humble opinion is that no matter how you find your balance, you should always leave the drama and theatricality to the actresses on the red carpet and the couturiers in their glass Eiffel Towers.
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