It’s beautiful to the point of being – dare we say it? Artistic. Here are some good reasons why haute couture is sustainable, too.
By Chere Di Boscio
Handmade. Artisanal. Made to order. Qualities such as these define not only sustainable fashion, but haute couture, too. For that reason, it’s assumed that haute couture is sustainable and whilst this is often the case the push for more sustainability needs to come now!
After all, haute couture can commit many sins, the most cardinal being the unnecessary use of yards and yards of fabrics. Couturiers can make dresses so perfectly constructed, they could literally last for centuries. But their clients buy these gowns to wear one time only. Some couture creations can also be over-the-top extravagant, featuring hundreds of jewels, pearls and exotic animal feathers and skins.
But on the other hand, there are some very good reasons why haute couture is sustainable.
4 Reasons Why Haute Couture Is Sustainable
1. It’s the epitome of slow fashion
Whilst most large fashion retailers insist that multiple varieties of up-to-the-minute fashions and fast turnover is essential to keep up with the competition and make a profit, the opposite is true for haute couture.
In France, fashion isn’t focused on trends, but rather on lasting, timeless and classic designs. And no French tradition better reflects that than haute couture.
French women often buy couture pieces that remain in their wardrobes for their entire adult lives. And it’s not unusual for mothers to pass on couture dresses, jackets and other pieces down to their daughters. Because they last, you know. And generally, they look perennially gorgeous.
Image below: Versace couture
2. Couture uses more eco friendly materials now than ever
If you’re paying tens of thousands for a garment, it’s rather disappointing to see it’s made of, say, polyester. And that’s not a total impossibility. I’ve seen that myself once or twice! But generally, couture designers will use refined eco-friendly materials such as linen, wool and silk. More modern materials now include spectacular filament such as TENCEL Luxe branded lyocell filament yarn.
Created from renewable wood sources in a closed loop process, TENCEL Luxe lyocell filament yarn is ideal for couture styles thanks to its silky smoothness, liquid-like drape and color brilliance. This resulting filament yarn also blends beautifully with other natural fibres commonly used in couture.
It was worn to beautiful effect at this year’s Oscars by Marlee Matlin. The actress represented the Red Carpet Green Dress (RCGD) x TENCEL partnership in her custom-made, eco-responsible Vivienne Westwood gown. The dress was partly made in a newly launched RCGD black vegan textile made with TENCEL Luxe lyocell filament yarns, incorporating a vintage Westwood fabric, and boasted a zero-waste pattern-cutting system to add to its sustainability.
At the 2020 Oscar’s Ceremony, French actress Lea Seydoux sported a stunning white tiered look by Louis Vuitton that was also made from TENCEL Luxe filament yarns and organic silk faille.
Image credit below: Red Carpet Green Dress
3. Vintage couture is always chic
Another reason why haute couture is sustainable is because it works as vintage pieces, for decades. As mentioned in our first point, couture is designed to last and be passed down through the generations. It’s no wonder wearing vintage couture has become the epitome of chic at weddings, on red carpets, and at other gala events.
In fact, a whole range of A-listers, ranging from Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Cameron Diaz and beyond, have won a bit more respect from eco-fashionistas thanks to the sustainable vintage couture designer gowns (and vintage jewelry) they’ve worn on various occasions.
We loved Julia Roberts’ vintage Valentino number, which she wore at the 2010 Oscars. The Y-strapped gown was part of a 1992 Valentino couture collection, allegedly worn on the runway by Helena Christensen. Renée Zellweger also sported vintage couture on the catwalk that year. Her’s was a buttery yellow Jean Desses pillar gown; also eternally stylish, as all couture should be!
Image credit: Mirek Towski/FilmMagic
4. Couture has even gone vegan
It may stun with its elaborate creations, but sadly, the couture industry uses a lot of animal parts, and can rarely be considered cruelty-free. From the stunning plumes of the peacock, to the more ordinary feathers of the goose; from exotic leathers and furs to causing the deaths of millions of worms for their silk, luxury fashion has long done harm to the animal world.
The good news is that more and more designers are saying no to cruel couture. And so, another reason why haute couture is sustainable is because increasingly, it uses no animal materials.
For example, the Czech born former classical dancer Jiri Kalfar combines the perfectionism of ballet with the beauty of nature to create sustainable luxury fashion for men and women. He left a career in dancing and modelling when he decided that he wanted his legacy for the next generation to be the sharing of a message to care for the Earth and its animals. He also wanted to continue to express himself creatively, in a sustainable way. And so Jiri Kalfar couture was born.
Main image: Stephane Rolland