Text: Ian David Monroe
This July, Demna Gvasalia’s Vetements will show at Paris Couture Fashion Week, alongside the likes of Chanel, Maison Margiela, and Christian Dior. The brand, well known for its anti-fashion approach, has been selected to present a collection as a guest, as well as Iris Van Herpen, J. Mendel, Francesco Scognamiglio, and Yuima Nakazato.
The title of “couture” has been used illegitimately in recent years, conflated with mass-market clothing—see Juicy Couture. But to actually be considered couture, a label must be dubbed so by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in France, which has a list of criteria for entry: a company must have an atelier in Paris, employ at least 15 members of staff, present a collection of at least 50 original designs twice a year, construct everything by hand, and more.
It is these strict guidelines that make Vetements’s guest invitation such a surprise. The brands mass appeal—despite the $750+ price tags—is unrivaled in the current sartorial landscape, which has placed considerable interest in the absorption of streetwear aesthetics. Will Vetements churn out a couture collection of hoodies and t-shirts? Potentially, which would certainly be a provocative twist to their subversive inclinations, a complete coup of fashion’s pinnacle. Even if they don’t, the invite is a strong showing of an historic institution’s willingness to embrace modernism. And perhaps an early indication that Gvasalia could bring Balenciaga—where he also holds the title of Creative Director—back into the couture fold.