PARIS, Feb 12, 2008 /FR/ — Wouldn’t it be inconvenient, unnatural, and even pernicious, to create a charity to fund Haute Couture? The outrageously most expensive clothes and their very few super rich customers would need financial support? You must be joking!
However, that’s only fun at first sight when you come to think of it and it’s certainly not what the five founding members of the Haute Couture Protection Guild are thinking, six months after starting their action. After reading this article, there is a high possibility you might want to help and yes, you could do it in a very simple way! They have already convinced me and the team here at FashionReporters.
The encounter took place as I was getting out of a car taking me to the Chanel runway show during the last Paris Haute Couture. I was greeted outside the Grand Palais by two people wearing the same mask: a very nice rendering of a typical buyer of luxury goods. I politely accepted the flyer which they were handing, read it with much interest on my way to my seat, and called them back a few days ago to make an appointment.
Inside a very nice showroom in Paris 9th arrondissement, I interviewed Stefano Morana and Jesus Diaz de Vivar, two of the five founders of the Haute Couture Protection Guild. “We are all involved in fashion design at some level” said Stefano who is a currently a designer for bridal gowns as well as an advisor to many a fashion brand in the field of accessories. Jesus added “I am a painter, but in my work, I am actually using some techniques developed for Haute Couture”.
It all started with the consciousness that these two creative souls shared about the craftsmen of haute couture with three of their friends: Isabelle de Prevost, Nathalie Christ and Olivier Vauvrecy. “Embroiderers, milliners, and many a specialized atelier contributing to the embellishments of haute couture pieces might just vanish forever if we do not try to help preserve their invaluable know-how, if they cannot pass on their techniques to the next generation“ says Stefano Morana.
Indeed many an atelier using these irreplaceable techniques is on the verge of closing down. They even include professions that do not really have a name in English. Take for instance “plumassier”, the very craft of choosing, preparing, cutting, tinting, forming, shaping, shining the natural feathers used in some haute couture dresses, hats, shoes, blouses, capes, does not even have an English name, or at least not one that we are still using. The same applies to “pleaters”, which is a word derived here from what these craftsmen are doing: pleating with a permanent crease at much studied temperatures and durations, using steam in machines that will be lost if we don’t save them, the most delicate fabrics of tulle, organza, muslin…
The makers of flowers in various fabrics, of one-of –a-kind braid pieces, of corsets, of textile paintings, of exceptional fans etc. are also threatened to die forever.
Of course every good fashion editor knows that the house of Chanel has integrated in its luxury group some of these companies, like Lesage for embroidery, Lemarié for feathers, etc. and even Fleurs Guillet, very recently for flowers made of fabrics. But this is not enough, the diversity of techniques used cannot be embraced by only one company, and every atelier always keeps its secrets, having found its very own technical solutions to the problems they have encountered over the decades. Everybody understands that if they disappear, an invaluable part of the human heritage will be lost forever. It would be as if the Castle of Versailles was destroyed or if the city of Venice was erased from the map of the world.
So what is actually the newly founded Haute Couture Protection Guild doing? They are contacting big groups and companies (not only in the field of fashion) asking them to help their fund; they are also prompting anyone interested in their perspective to become a registered member and give them ideas about how to achieve their goal. Membership is free, just get registered on www.parisianparadox.com. Later, they might ask their subscribers for a small fee to receive their newsletter.
They have also founded a company called Parisian Paradox, which has produced a series of very nice tee-shirts with their emblematic virtual muse (Nelly G., a typical international haute couture customer and fan). Some details in some of the 15 pieces, designed by anonymous Guild members, are actually reminiscent of haute couture, like this shirtfront in tulle, or some sequin-embroidered short sleeves. Others just display a beautiful print of Nelly G. with a motto: “Raising Funds for Haute Couture”. The fun small collection of tops could easily become a valued collector’s ensemble, as each and every piece in it is produced in a limited edition only.
With the funds resulting from the sales profits, and other sources, the Guild will chose a craftsman to help every year: “Our funds will go to either craftsmen who need to finance interns to pass on their knowledge, or to those who want to develop their commercial strategy and need advice and new forces in their company” says Jesus Diaz de Vivar. “We are not happy with supporting dying ateliers, we want to make them move forward”, comments Stefano Morana, “we might even do the same thing later with some young haute couture fashion designer.”
The last question is where can you find these tee-shirts? Are they already on sale anywhere? Yes, they are! In one Paris boutique at the moment: Margo Milin, 1 rue Charles Dupuis 75003 Paris.For the international lovers of haute couture and web shoppers, please check their website [here], as the pieces will be available for sale online, within a few days. Spread the word: good will, passion for couture and humour are required, and some money is also needed for a very good cause indeed!
[JEAN PAUL CAUVIN]