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The Journey of a Couture Dress

24 February 2017

With recent comments of disappointment of maestro Karl Lagerfield on Meryl Streep's decision to pass on the couture Chanel Dress for Oscars, I can understand his frustration. The dress, accodring to Lagerfield, was worth €100,000 in valuable hours clocked by the artisans of the atelier and the bottom line. After spending hours and hours tailoring the couture dress for A-Lister, it turned out the Streep was expecting to be paid for her appearance in the dress. A €100,000 worth dress is not enough for some.

 

But what makes up for the eye-watering price of a couture dress?

 

The process of selecting a gown for a major media or showbiz event for can begin as soon as early three months before the actual event or as soon as the celebrity's attendance is confirmed. This is dictated by the fact that the custom dress may need several fittings and up to 500+ hours of work. Should you choose to order couture from another country or a continent, the flights arrangements can add further complexity.

 

The exclusive deal is often preferred by both, the designers and celebrities. It gives the security and peace of mind to both parties. Custom made also guaranteed that press wouldn’t get a chance to compare with gusto two versions of one designer’s work in “Who wore it better” section.

 

A few revisions of design later, the measures are taken and the muslin is made. The design is then delivered to the A-lister for a fitting.

 

The dress then might be shipped to the designer for final alterations before it is delivered back to the celebrity a few days ahead of the event.

 

Working with a major house for high-pressure moments is thus understandable. It’s hard for a young designer to compete with a house like Versace that shows up with their tailors and is ready if anything goes wrong. No one needs additional stress on the night of the premiere because the dress doesn’t fit or there is a minor alteration that needs to be done.

 

The role of a stylist is to be the first point of contact for both the talent and designer. Stylists have to facilitate all fittings and deliveries and might need to be present at both; the fittings and the couture house to communicate the feedback in person.

 

Meryl Streep Baftas 2017 © Joe Alvarez 38581 Cate Blanchett Erin O'Connor Julianne Moore at Cannes Film Festival Joe Alvarez

by Tamara Dumas

Erin O'Connor

Cate Blanchett

Julianne Moore

Meryl Streep