First let’s start with how much it costs to buy Haute Couture.

Haute couture gowns can take over 800 hours to produce so it goes without saying that buying haute couture doesn’t come cheap. Daywear can start at $10,000, while a heavily embroidered and intricate gown can cost several hundred thousand dollars. The Scott Henshall diamond-encrusted dress worn by Samantha Mumba to the 2004 premiere of Spiderman II was priced at approximately $9 million, so the sky is really the limit.
Despite these mind blowing prices, most fashion houses don’t actually make money off of haute couture and use it as a marketing vehicle to sell everything from perfume to lipstick to the average consumer.

Who buys it

During the 1950s society ladies like Babe Paley, Marella Agnelli, and Grace Kelly were couture customers. During the 1970s and 1980s Nan Kempner, Lynn Wyatt, and Dodie Rosekrans were the couture poster women. During the 1990s Kuwaiti socialite Mouna al-Ayoub and Houston socialite Suzanne Saperstein were vocal about their love of haute couture. Vanity Fair said of Saperstein that she’s “probably the world’s number one consumer of haute couture.”

Today’s haute couture client is likely form the Middle East, China, or Russia. Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel, told Women’s Wear Daily in 2010: “We have new clients from Europe and the Middle East” and commented that he has seen the business of haute couture increase by between 20 to 30 percent in recent years. It has been estimated that there are no more than 4,000 haute couture clients in the world.

Red carpet Effect

Haute couture came into the public consciousness because of the red carpet. Nicole Kidman walked the Oscars in 1997 in a peacock green Christian Dior Haute Couture gown (and was reportedly paid $2 million to do so). Now it is de rigueur for stars to wear haute couture to major red carpet events. At the recent Golden Globes Lawrence wasn’t the only star to don haute couture—Anne Hathway wore ChanelHaute Couture as did model Barbara Palvin.

The Red Carpet Effect

Haute couture came into the public consciousness because of the red carpet. Nicole Kidman walked the Oscars in 1997 in a peacock green Christian Dior Haute Couture gown (and was reportedly paid $2 million to do so). Now it is de rigueur for stars to wear haute couture to major red carpet events. At the recent Golden Globes Lawrence wasn’t the only star to don haute couture—Anne Hathway wore Chanel Haute Couture as did model Barbara Palvin.

It is because of this phenomenon that often times when people are wearing something special or expensive that they refer to it as couture.

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Couture business

Chanel Haute Couture

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