This film uncovers the anachronistic and surprising fairytale world of haute couture through its players past and present, featuring rare archive from the BBC vaults.
Margy Kinmonth takes a journey from Paris to New York and California to meet both designers and customers in this much talked about but little explained pocket of the fashion industry. Haute couture’s traditional American customers are getting old and dying off now and fewer wealthy young women are taking their place to ensure its survival. She discovers how much has changed and surprisingly how much has stayed the same in this story of decadent decline.
Since its heyday after WW 2 the number of fashion houses showing haute couture in Paris has fallen from over a hundred to barely a dozen today. Margy Kinmonth goes behind the scenes at the haute couture giant Chanel as it prepares for the January shows in which its spring/summer collection is launched. We are given a rare interview and glimpse of the famous Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel at work drawing in his studio. We follow the making and complicated construction of one dress to fully understand what “hand made in Paris” really means. Margy interviews John Galliano,Dior’s designer, veteran Italian designer Valentino and French favourite Christian Lacroix. We are treated to vintage archive of early haute couture shows.
The film follows key haute couture customers as they visit Paris to see the shows and shop for dresses that can cost up to 100,000 dollars each. Kinmonth asks who are these women and why are they prepared to spend so much money on one dress? There are strict unwritten rules for belonging to this exclusive shopping club.What are they? Why is it all so hush hush?
We visit keen haute couture aficionado Betsy Bloomingdale in Los Angeles and see her large collection of haute couture. We meet one of the oldest multi- millionaire collectors in New York City - Carol Petrie whose wedding dress was made by Christian Dior himself in the late 1940’s. We see U. S designer Ralph Rucci’s collection in New York. He is one of the few foreigners allowed to show haute couture in Paris.
Texan oil and gas tycoon’s wife Becca Cason Thrash, Susan Gutfreund – wife of the 80’s bond dealer John Gutfreund and Daphne Guinness, a Brit with a passion for haute couture are all interviewed. They mingle on the front rows of the catwalk shows alongside celebrities such as Victoria Beckham. Insider Baroness Helene de Ludinghausen, who was for 31 years the directrice of Yves Saint Laurent, spills the beans about the subject no one ever mentions – how much this frocks cost.
Is haute couture now an art form? The customers all think so.