Death to Prêt-à-porter, long live the high-street?

FASHION / Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

It rests heavily on my lap. It is glossy and glamorous and bears the title “fashion bible” rightfully. It’s the September edition of Vogue, and I have just finished my reading. And I am utterly bored. And by that I am deeply disturbed. Because, for as long as I can remember (around to the stone age of early nineties) I have, with quivering anticipation, waited for this particular edition to start a new fashion season. All the new collections, the new looks, new accessories, new do’s and make-up. it’s a true thrill for any fashion loving designer. Always lot’s of new inspiration and new cravings. But this time: Boredom. I remember best two looks, and to my deep disturbance these were campaigns for high street brands.

What does this mean? Is prêt-à-porter slowly getting obsolete in favour of the oh-so-much-more-affordable high-street alternative? There is soon not a single high-profile designer that has not done a capsule collection for one (or more?) high-street brand, and the production efficiency of some of the biggest low-priced brands are now so high that they can make a copy of a runway item so fast that it hits the street at the same time as the original itself. Some call this spiral “the democratising of fashion”, and some, at the other end of the stick (the owners of the high-end brands) are fighting in big law-suits against copying.

Is it time to worry? Has high fashion really lost its impact? To me it’s a no. Thankfully! A brief look through the presentation of the full collection on a competing webpage and I sigh in relief. There is still inspiration to be found. If it had not been for a few genius designers I would have been really concerned. Thankfully Dior’s Raf Simons, Prada’s Miuccia Prada, Céline’s Phoebe Philo and Dries van Noten are still around to astound me every time.

My personal favourite these days are clearly Raf Simons. The way he first turned around the dusty german label Jil Sander, getting the whole fashion world sitting up and listen, and then moving on to totally reinvigorate the Dior brand is true fashion genius to me. This season is no exception. His casually thrown-in sporty laces, cleaver cuts (his signature – to me at least) and pops of bright colouring on otherwise sombre looks is excatly what makes my fashion heart miss a beat.



Miuccia Prada is oh-so-different. Somehow she manages to make quirky, weird and artsy looks work in total clashing harmony (?!) to an utterly desirable whole. Hers are never (anymore at least) easy looks to pull off. You need fashion savvy to get it right, but that is exactly the attraction. Below a some examples of my favourites (and possibly most wearable) looks.


Dries Van Noten had been going on about his thing for years and years – without me being particularly interested – until he, a few seasons ago caught the eye of me (and the rest of the fashion industry…). Somehow his heart is beating to a bit of the same beat to that of before mentioned Muccia, but where she is over at the quirky side, his is a bit more poetic. Season after season he delivers this genius mix of patterns, fluid siluettes and artsy elegance. The result is utterly desirable.


Last but least of my favourites are Phoebe Philo at Céline. Her anticipated debut at Celine could not have been more successful. After her first collection there she seems to have acquired a bit of a Midas touch, making everything she creates a must-have- To me she is catering to the sleek, but fashion conscious business woman. Hers are very wearable designs, speaking to the intellect and to the practical at the same time. Her latest fall collection is no exception: I want it all!


Fortunately there are even more designers I could have mentioned here: Christopher Bailey at Burberry and Frida Gianinni at Gucci are just a few. Maybe I’ll devote some time to them later on. But for the moment I’ll conclude that the high street truly are breathing down the neck of the big labels of fashion, but fortunately not yet making them irrelevant. In the end, we all want something to look up to and dream about, don’t we?

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