Monday, July 5, 2010

Talking About Haute Couture and Then You Think About Didier Grumbach

Haute couture season is as much about Didier Grumbach as the collections (except for John Galliano because he is haute couture). Didier defines so many things - soignee, cool, droll, chic, amusing ...

Without ready-to-wear, couture simply would not exist”.  (YSL hid in the doorways of Paris during the Student Demonstrations of '68, bringing the street to couture: precedent.) And so, after producing clothes for Yves Saint Laurent and his own collection, he began to change fashion from the bourgeois choices of madame clothes copied from couture or sportswear influenced by, ahem, Bonnie Cashin, Claire McCardell, American movies with wardrobes by Edith Head and blue jeans to French Pret a Porter. It was so like Coco Chanel's observation (ridiculous amount of name dropping today) that fashion is  everywhere, in the air. 

Didier's Createurs & Industriels was presented in Paris in a massive fashion show showing Issey Miyake, Emmanuelle Khan (oversized "Nicole Ritchie" sunglasses), Ossie Clark, Jean Muir and Jean Charles de Castelbajac. (And setting the precedent for shows that begin an hour or so late, no doubt.) Very, very forward fashion: Andre Putman's Boulevard Saint Germaine boutique for these designers promptly failed. Well, it was an odd moment in fashion: Jerry Magnin's former wife, Erin, opened a YSL Rive Gauche boutique in Beverly Hills that also failed.  Marilyn Lewis, owner of the Hamburger Hamlet chain, took the lease for Cardinali, her collection; Cameron Silver did a retrospective two years ago. Oh, and Cameron now has a haute jeans collection, too.

Didier was president of Thierry Mugler, before the explosion of that moment of Thierry, Claude, Azzedine. Those days ... Paris. Thierry lost his Mirabelle to Azzedine; she manged the sales, an unwieldy job with stores clamoring for good show seats, exclusivity and could you make it a little less, you know, fashion and a lot more, you know, commercial.

Ah, the small (name-dropping) riff brought on by the exquisite, take your breath away haute couture shows is due to Didier, of course. He took on the presidency of the French Federation of the Haute Couture, preserving it, accommodating it.. Anachronistic, arcane and as endangered as our own American Bald Eagles. But if that sensational world ended, it would be the same as museums tossing Rembrandts and Monets in the basement and showing only (quelle horror) giclees and prints, things that everyone can understand and afford. 

He is a busy man afflicted with the love of fashion, I think.

In retrospect, I think Tavi's appearance (and the scandal of her Stephen Jones hats) last season brought a flurry of new press and attention, a very good thing. Perhaps a Tshirt with "Save The Haute Couture" could help, too.


  1. I just want to thank you for your posts because I always learn something from them. I also learn tremendously from your comments. Thank you for the information on Diane Keaton's next undertaking. I'll be updating the post today. =) Enjoy your week.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this, I would definitely wear that "Save The Haute Couture" shirt, if that would make a teeny bit of help :)

    Kisses from NYC,
    Betina and Mae

  3. haute couture is so underrated! something definitely must be done. loved your post girly!

  4. With all the austerity required of governments, I hope that Anna Wintour and Carine Roitfeld having met with the French government recently to ask them to do more to support their industry would help the industry. John at least has the world's seventh richest man on his side and, sigh, he's John Galliano brilliant wonderful incredible.

    Too sad to think of any more houses closing to save money.


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