Paris Haute Couture F/W '16-'17: What It Is and What To Expect

It’s haute couture season again in Paris, a time when fashion designers pull out all the stops just because, oh, they can. Think of the most outrageous, expensive, and sometimes head-scratchingly-weird clothing you can imagine — that’s Paris haute couture.

Haute couture is incredibly pricey, but that’s not where the profits come from. Fashion houses actually earn from selling accessories like handbags and wallets, not clothes. This begs the question: what’s the point, and why does it matter?

Besides all that, staging a show takes an incredible amount of money. The clothes are labour-intensive, the materials, expensive. So again, why?

Paris Haute Couture F:W '16-'17: What It Is and What To Expect | Track Mode Horse Racing and Fashion | Elie Saab Fall '15 2

Elie Saab Paris Haute Couture F/W ’15

Well, think of a car manufacturer making a supercar. They’d be lucky if even one eccentric billionaire decides to buy it, but they do it anyway. It’s because they want to show the world the full extent of what they can do. Even if you don’t buy that six-figure dress, you’d happily take their products that you can afford.

You’ve also heard of how money attracts money, and how power attracts power. Haute couture is a way for brands to send the message that yes, we are this powerful, and yes, we can afford this. At the same time, it issues the challenge: can you afford us?

Paris Haute Couture F:W '16-'17: What It Is and What To Expect | Track Mode Horse Racing and Fashion | Giambattista Valli Spring '14

Giambattista Valli Spring ’14

In one stroke, prestige and exclusivity are born. Suddenly, a fashion house is all the rage, and everyone can’t get enough of it. But oops, not everyone can afford it, which increases its mystique even more.

Having said that, there are people who can afford it. They’re the ones who want nothing but the very, very best that money can buy. In doing so, they become marketing for the brand, and yet another way that the fashion house becomes aspirational.

Justine Picardie, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, sums it up eloquently: “Couture is still the way of selling the dream, it’s still (a) way of extending brand fame. And in a recession, people might see the footage of a couture show, pictures of a couture show, and think, ‘Well, I’m still gonna buy that Chanel Number 5, or that Dior lipstick, because I still want to buy a little bit of that dream.’”

Paris Haute Couture F:W '16-'17: What It Is and What To Expect | Track Mode Horse Racing and Fashion | Elie Saab Fall '15

Elie Saab Paris Haute Couture F/W ’15

Last but not the least, a haute couture show will often produce something that captures the imagination of many other designers — in other words, this is where a lot of trends are born.

Paris Haute Couture F:W '16-'17: What It Is and What To Expect | Track Mode Horse Racing and Fashion | Zuhair Murad F:W '15

Zuhair Murad F/W ’15

Intrigued? Here’s a guide for who’s showing at Paris Haute Couture Fall/Winter 16/17.

Sunday, July 3rd

2 pm – Yuima Nakazato

3 pm – Francesco Scognamiglio

4 pm – Adeline André

5 pm – Ulyana Sergeenko

6 pm – Vetements

7 pm – Guo Pei

8 pm – Atelier Versace

Monday, July 4th

10 am – Schiaparelli

11 am – Schiaparelli

12 pm – Iris Van Herpen

2:30 pm – Christian Dior

5 pm – Christian Dior

6:30 pm – Ralph & Russo

7:30 pm – Giambattista Valli

Tuesday, July 5th

10 am – Chanel

11 am – Aouadi

12 pm – Chanel

1:30 pm – Alexis Mabille

2:30 pm – Stéphane Rolland

4 pm – Julien Fournié

5 pm – J Mendel

6 pm – Giorgio Armani Privé

7:30 pm – Alexandre Vauthier

Wednesday, July 6th

10 am – Maison Margiela

11 am – Franck Sorbier

12:30 pm – Elie Saab

2:30 pm – Jean Paul Gaultier

4 pm – Viktor & Rolf

5 pm – Zuhair Murad

6:30 pm – Valentino

Thursday July 7th

From 10:30 am:

Boucheron

Bulgari

Chanel Jewellery

Chaumet

Dior Jewellery

De Beers

Louis Vuitton Jewellery

Track Mode is a horse racing and fashion site founded and curated by Nina O’Brien. We like to talk about race day dresses, millinery, and accessories, the thoroughbred racing lifestyle, and the elite of the horse racing world. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest race day fashion edits and horse racing news straight to your inbox.