This week is Paris Haute Couture Week, the bi-annual celebration of the highest expression of the art of clothing. Only a very small number of international design houses are ever granted the Haute Couture designation but those that do are founded on the quintessential Parisian tradition of the petites mains, trained in the specialist schools and ateliers of the city. This week we get a chance to marvel at their extraordinary skills as the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne presides over shows from houses such as Dior, Chanel, Giambattista Valli, Maison Margiela, Jean Paul Gaultier and Alexandre Vauthier. You can find the schedule here.
As if that were not enough, we are also presented with a unique opportunity to view some historic examples of haute couture as Didier Ludot, the legendary fashion antiquarian, auctions a selection of his vintage collection on 8 July. If you are in Paris, you can view them at Sotheby’s but if not, you can still see them online. There are 150 items from Ludot’s personal collection, including pieces from Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, Balenciaga, Valentino, Jean Paul Gaultier, Galliano and Alaia. The oldest item is a marvellous beaded shift from Paquin dated to 1924, and there is also a screen siren-worthy sequinned evening column made by Chanel in 1932.
The items that caught my eye were two lots that came from the wardrobe of Lou Lou de la Falaise, Yves Saint Laurent’s muse and design-colleague. There is the black velvet flamenco hat from the iconic portrait of Lou Lou by Steven Meisel, as well as Lou Lou’s own version of the celebrated YSL Saharienne, or safari shirt. How I should love to be the lucky buyer taking those home with me after Wednesday’s sale!
As for M Ludot himself, he hopes that his treasures, “meet the Woman who will give them back their souls by wearing, breathing and moving with them”: a reminder that these extraordinary works of art are made to be worn and loved.