Twice a year, when the haute couture shows debut in January and July, the question of the relevancy of these unspeakably expensive garments reappears. For many, haute couture represents everything that is wrong with fashion—a frivolous and grotesque waste of money with dresses costing more that some people’s lifetime earnings—while others believe it is the lifeblood of the industry. With dress and life as a whole moving progressively more casual, it is hard to see where couture fits in this evolving world—if a couture dress is only ever seen on a runway by editors and billionaire clients and then at a private party of the 1%, is it something everyone else should care about? Is it something that other designers and fashion lovers should aspire to? Though the death knell has been chimed for haute couture since the early 1960s, it continues on with even more increased attention due to social media. In 1995 WWD remarked couture had been “pronounced dead more times than disco,” and through careful analysis it becomes apparent how the second half of the Nineties shifted couture’s fortunes and made it the media circus it is today.

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