Plenty of brands claim to offer up couture collections, but to be a true couture piece, a garment needs to meet a number of requirements. Labels have to design made-to-order-pieces for private clients, have an atelier in Paris with over 15 full-time staff members and 20 full-time technical employees, and must present at least 50 original designs to the public that includes day and eveningwear during January and July’s Couture Weeks. In addition, every single piece must be made by hand, from beginning to end. All of these details are overseen by the Fédération Française de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode—so how did buzzy, ready-to-wear brand Vetements just nab an invitation to the ultra-exclusive Haute Couture Fashion Week?
Vetements, in addition to J. Mendel, Yuima Nakazato, Francesco Scognamiglio and Iris Van Herpen, has been chosen by the federation to show on the couture calendar as a guest member. This doesn’t necessarily mean the brand will begin presenting couture regularly (the label is only two years old, after all), but it “will involve different elements including some Vetements interpretations of couture,” a spokesman for the brand clarified. Additionally, the brand will be showcasing their Spring 2017 ready-to-wear collection, leaving a gap in the ready-to-wear February and September Fashion Weeks.
While the five guest brands won’t be presenting a couture collection—only houses that have been approved by the French Ministry of Industry are allowed to use the title of haute couture—they will be showing alongside big name veterans like Dior, Chanel and Valentino. Recently reappointed couture houses Aoudi, Guo Pei, Ilja, Julien Fournié, Ralph & Russo, Schiaparelli, Ulyana Sergeenko and Zuhair Murad will also be showing this July. It will be interesting to see what kind of effect, if any, this has on each brand. For names like Iris Van Herpen who already designs visually immersive garments, and J. Mendel who focuses on dresses and eveningwear, couture feels like a natural progression. Vetements on the other hand, stands as a sartorial interpretation of rebelling against the system. As such their involvement feels a little out of place, but will make for a compelling Fashion Week nonetheless.