I really hesitate to write this, but I'm just so intrigued by the whole thing, and the more I think about it, the more I want to discuss it. Most of you probably know that I have another blog I do called Fashioned. It started as a way to discuss the runway looks I like with some friends, and although I don't keep it up as well as I could, I do try, especially with the Couture collections, which are my favorites. I have only one rule there, which I stick to pretty closely, and that is: If I don't like something, I don't put it up and ridicule it. I generally just ignore it and move on to something I do like. I look for not only entire looks I like, but also sometimes just one small part of a look appeals to me, and I mention it and ignore the rest. Not surprisingly, I tend to look at things from a sewing point of view, and I'll discuss an interesting sleeve or hem or whatever.
So, I was working my way through the Fall 2008 shows last week, and one of my favorites each season is Valentino. Of course Valentino himself retired after the Spring 2008 show, so this was the first show completely designed and overseen by Alessandra Facchinetti. She did a lot of beautiful things, and I've read several serious reviews of the show, and no one has mentioned what caught my attention. When looking at the close-up photos of various ensembles, I noted details that were not perfect.
Even now I read that and think, how petty. But really, what is the couture if not an exercise in dreams and perfection? Of course I'm sure there are many less-than-perfect garments in the various couture collections, but we don't see them as a rule. What 'mistakes' there are, are not visible to the naked eye, or at least not in photographs. They just do not send less-than-perfect items down that runway, and honestly, they shouldn't, if only because their price-point depends on the maintenance of the couture mystique, which demands perfection, or at least so close to perfection that imperfections become unnoticeable. So how did these things escape the quality control that I know they have in the Valentino workroom? Who decided they were "good enough"? Is anyone else disappointed, or am I being silly? I know that things that I make will probably always have one or more things that are not quite right. One strives for perfection of course, but usually one settles for a pleasing overall impression, with no glaringly obvious faults. This is often achievement enough, but with a complete workroom full of highly skilled experts who have been turning out apparent perfection collection after collection for Valentino himself, right up to a few months ago, how did this happen? That's what has me baffled.
I'll go ahead and post some of the things that caught my eye. Let me know what you all think.
All photos in this post are courtesy of Style.com, and you can find the complete Valentino show referenced here.
This jacket is lovely, but look at the collar point on the left side of the photo. You can see more in the close-up below, but it looks to me like it doesn't match the right side in the way it stands.
This suit has lots of detail front and center, and you can see in the photo below that things just aren't quite as straight and even as they should be, from the center angled piece to the welt pocket that's a little wavy.
This is a portion of an embellished satin evening coat. Beautiful, and a very difficult fabric, but isn't that a pretty big pucker at the bottom of the zipper?
There are so many beautiful and seemingly perfect things in this collection, and I don't want you to think this isn't the case, but I've just been almost worried by the problems I've pointed out. So, am I silly or too picky or what?
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For the prices they charge its not too much to expect perfection. But the shame of this is that the workroom is surely the same one that Valentino used. Are they only good for the master or is she not as demanding?
hmm..If I were paying sky-high prices for the garments, yes I would protest. However, as a sewer who is still developing her skills, I think that they have lowered the bar to a level that I am very capable of leaping over--I can add LOTS of puckers to seams and you should see a close-up of my zippers. :) Seriously, it's sad that they are not catching these errors. It would be a shame if a haut coutoure garment became mundane....sigh
I fully agree with you on the last garment... this is a major pucker right at the end of the zipper! But the first two items could be just an unfortunate coincindence of light/flat photography, etc.
I know/fully understand where you coming from and couture like that should withstand any 'bad' photo-angles, but in the end we're all human - even the people at Valentino's.
How depressing! On your second example the lowest button is out of line too - you can follow the grain of the fabric in the enlarged photo. I don't imagine there are buttonholes to give any play. And no top-stitching or edge-stitching. The bottom of the front inset has a sharper edge than the sides...... I could go on.
As many shows as are required of designers and ateliers these days, I'm sure some glitches just have to be busted on through. Time to fix is a luxury, I'd say, rather than the standards have just crashed through the floor or so we can only hope.
Admittedly I am saddened to see these things. I'm glad you've posted about them.
Not too picky, Liana!
I saw those bits at Valentino too, Liana. One would think that the couture garment for the customer would have the proper finishing.
Dunno, where I come from, the sample garment is always the best, the one that was labored over the most. After that, its all downhill. If your sample didn't come out right, then the chance of your production being right are slim.
Thanks Liana I agree with your take about how couture made garments should be impeccable sewn and fit.
I agree with you. I thought this was RTW, not couture. Perfection/near perfection IS what's expected, otherwise, what's the point?
Nancy K shared my thought; Are the New Masters as demanding/obsessed (?) as the Old? I sure hope so. If not, haute couture will soon become extinct.
I absolutely agree. Isn't couture the standard to which all aspire technically? Certainly at the cost it must be perfect, and to keep the reputation of the house there should be no less.
That last zipper is the thing that really got me. I do hope that if someone purchases/orders one of those that the workroom will have the time to do the zipper properly. I'm sure those workrooms are extremely busy at certain times of the year, and humans can do only so much, but if I were paying those prices, I'd want it done right. Goodness, I wouldn't even buy RTW that looked like that. When I do buy RTW (very rare for me anyway) I am very picky and inspect it. Even my husband hands clothes over and says what do think before he buys them.
Hmmm... No, I don't think you're being too picky. Although I agree that in the first photo the problems might be due to a trick of the lighting, the second has elements that are not and the third... that is one big bad pucker!
I assume that since couture means the garment is made individually for the customer that these will not be sold. And surely the real thing will be very carefully constructed and finished.
But to claim the status of a *couture* runway garment... perfection in construction is vital. They know that these garments will be photographed and these photos will, for the majority of the fashion world, represent the house to the public. Sloppy construction says that the house is careless... of it's look and reputation.
I'm a novice sewer and would not have thought that such oversights would happen in couture clothing. Great Post.
I noticed some of the same issues, but the zipper and the misaligned button on the suit you posted both jumped out at me as notably inferior. Some of the other things could be light or movement. I don't think they speak well for the house, but since couture is technically made to order each of these things can be easily fixed in the actual garment that goes to a client.
I wondered if perhaps the new designer was just running a little behind, changing the designs at the last minute, and perhaps some of these issues could be blamed on a mad rush to get things on the runway. This does not excuse it, but I have read that these things do happen, and perhaps , when Valentino was designing the line the sample production was paced better. If this is the case, I would hope that things would improve for future shows.
I do buy RTW, although I am torn between being inspired by RTW and being disgusted by quality and wanting to make everything myself, and I can be quite picky about what I buy. I make compromises trying to balance what I sew, what I make, and what time allows, but these things detract from the overall garment and are not balanced out by the other beautiful details.
I find it very sad. But I also wonder how much this reflects the increasingly common attitude by the fashion houses that couture is more a marketing ploy than actually an attempt to sell clothes. In that scenario, the bling would be more important than minor details like proper fit, assuming that the market is more interested in what something represents rather than what it actually is
Liana, thanks for the post. I think something must be very wrong at Valentino, for them to send such mistakes down the runway. Maybe the older sewers that were with Mr. Valentino are no longer there, or, if they are still there, decided to show the 'new management' what they thought about the change in leadership. You never know what goes on 'behind the scenes'. It looks like someone(s) not happy there. I've never seen anything like these mistakes sent out at a Valentino show; couture or RTW. I wonder what Mr. Valentino must've thought?!!!
I find all of this really appalling, that a house with the history/reputation of Valentino's could put out something less than perfect to the naked eye. With or without the actual man at the helm, his name is still on the door.
With that being said, what I find even worse is that consumers, even those that buy couture, have become so accustomed to these kind of flaws and to poorly fitting clothes that I think that few if any would even notice! Just watch the Red Carpet for a few minutes and you will see what I mean...
Wow! You are really examining them closely...I would have missed all of that!
At my favorite newsstand in NYC, I can buy the Vogue collections book so that I have actually pictures I can lay in bed and look at instead of on the computer and during my first pass through the book, I was less than impressed with the Valentino collection...especially since it is usually one of my favorites.
My only thought about the perfection issue could be that she has not quite gotten control over her workroom...loyalties run deep and maybe there is a disconnect between her and the workroom staffs.
As for perfection in my own garments, I would be nikked scaring the world if I sewed to that standard...my standard is "The best I can do that day"...some days it is good enough...some days it is outstanding...and some days we just leave it on the cutting room table waiting for another day! *LOL*
I agree with everyone else. If this came out of my sewing room, I'd be a little disappointed. For a couture garment (and price) it just looks downright sloppy.
Liana, thanks for visiting my blog. As I've said before, I'm a Liana groupie. You make classic garments and your workmanship is par excellence. Thanks again!
You have a great eye for detail. I have to agree with some others, the prices for their designs, their work should be topnotch. I think you have a real point.
Good eye Liana (as usual).
Don't know that I agree about the collar points, could be a matter of garment sway from walking but I do see another problem with it, bubbling on one side near the dart (see these photos I've made notes on http://picasaweb.google.com/kathleen.fasanella/DesignerOopsies#)
The taupe style ...that has GOT to be a proto, a last minute addition to the line. I found three problems with it, rather glaring imo. The buttons don't line up, the aforementioned neckline bubble (same block as the white one?) and that placket thingy in addition to buckling, is crooked. Again, see my photos.
RE: zipper. The end point pucker is the least of it really, you can see it's puckering well before that end point. Pretty lousy imo. Also, look at that seam on the sleeve; it's caving inwards. With all that embellishment weight, that really needed some kind of infrastructure to reinforce the seam.
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