asks the Sunday Times?
They are a new fashion type, these rich and pampered couture shoppers. Although their lifestyles are European (and specifically London), their cultures span the world — Korea, China, Venezuela. And what are they here for? Excess — in colour, proportion and, above all, decoration.
Yet there was little innovation. Like the husbands who pay the bills — anything from £50,000 to £150,000 for an elaborately jewelled creation — these women don’t give tuppence for the avant-garde. They want a waist where God intended; they don’t want flashes in embarrassing places and are bemused by garments with three sleeves. They want everything just as it always has been — at least, since the 1950s. And Paris couture survives by meeting their needs.
They have other demands, too, such as quality of the standard even the best ready-to-wear labels cannot provide. They also want exclusivity, so most couture houses have an unwritten policy of limiting sales of any £100,00-plus garment to one per continent, with first choice going to the most loyal customer. As one vendeuse told me: “There are no ceilings now — they have all been broken. These women have closets to die for. And they all pay cash.”
She sums up the market forces by confessing: “We can’t get enough crocodile bags, even though they sell for £20,000. Kurdistani millionaires’ wives buy them in every colour, which often means 10 identical bags.”