Haute Couture may only be a realistic buying option for a very select and lucky few but fortunately for the rest of us who don't have tens of thousands of pounds to spend on a single dress, the stunning photographs of Couture runway shows are available to all on style.com for free.
The recent Elie Saab Fall 2011 Couture show in Paris is one of the most beautiful shows I have ever seen.
The magic began when the first model took to the runway in an oh-so intricate long sleeve, floor length gown in a beautiful icy blue shade, pain-stakingly embellished with thousands upon thousands of crystals. The fairytale finale dress was again in a subtle blue/grey shade with a deep V at the front and a tulle skirt and was finished off with an enormous vale, again hand-stitched with thousands of crystals.
Each and every dress in between the first and last look was a joy to behold and was utterly elegant and completely timeless. The long sheer sleeve detail in a number of gowns together with an exposed back was modern take on old-school Hollywood glamour and I am absolutely certain that we will see a number of these beautiful dresses on the red carpet.
Saab's delicate colour palate used throughout the show was also truly beautiful. From the palest of blues which opened the show he moved through to dresses in white and then a rich blush onto bronze and a subtle taupe before finishing with eight dresses in a gorgeous deep shade of blue, often so much more flattering on the skin tone that harsh black.
There were a few dresses in the collection which were shorter in length but thanks to the layers of tulle and detailed bodices were certainly not any shorter in drama.
Some onlookers and even design houses themselves believe that there is really no place for Haute Couture in the bleak and depressing economy we live in. I, however, completely disagree.
We hear the phrase 'fast fashion' on an almost daily basis where high street giants try and replicate the trends and looks of a designer for a fraction of the price in as short a time frame as possible, often a mere number of weeks. I therefore find it quite reassuring that there is absolutely nothing 'fast' about haute couture.
One of my favourite quotes is by the master that was Yves Saint Laurent who said, "Fashions fade; style is eternal." I think the same could be said for haute couture. Couture is not meant to be worn one whilst it is 'in fashion' and then simply discarded and banished to the back of the wardrobe until that trend comes back around again. True haute couture pieces are designed to be a kept like a work of art. There are so few people in the world who are skilled and talented enough to be able to create such breathtaking designs and creations and it would be an absolute travesty if haute couture were to become a thing of the past.
The technological world that we live in means that we are lucky to have so much access to fashion nowadays. Whether it be watching the live streaming of fashion shows online as if you were sitting front row at the show or being able to pre-order your favourite runway looks the minute the shows have finished, the phrase 'fashion at your fingertips' has never been more true.
I do worry though that there is a danger that even high fashion might become a bit too accessible. By accessible, I don't mean in terms of cost but in terms of how easy it is to be considered 'fashionable' today. Anyone can throw £100 at a high street store and come out looking reasonably fashionable.
I have to admit that my love for Hermes bags is somewhat diminished every time I see a soap star or reality TV 'personality' toting a Birkin. In the good old days, you really had to be someone in order to get your hands on the prized bag.
I love the fact that the magical and mystical world of haute couture is still fiercely secretive and exclusive. It's almost like fight club for the frightening rich; "The first rule of Haute Couture Club is 'You do not talk about Haute Couture Club'...