PARIS, France — For the first time since Raf Simons took the creative helm at Dior, the French fashion house is bringing its haute couture show to China, with an event to be held in Shanghai on March 30. The show will be a repeat outing of the Spring 2013 Haute Couture collection that was first presented in January during Paris Couture Week and marks the second couture show in China for Dior, which presented its Spring 2012 Haute Couture collection, last April, at the Roosevelt House in Shanghai.
Dior’s chief executive Sidney Toledano told Agence France-Presse that the brand was winning new couture customers and that China was the “big market of tomorrow.” Last year’s attendees included Chinese celebrities like actress Zhang Ziyi and artist Zhang Huan and a similar crowd is expected this year at the show and associated gala. Private clients book appointments in the days after the show to make their purchases.
Although haute couture is not typically a profitable business segment for fashion brands, given the shift in womenswear towards more casual dress and the preponderance of high-quality, more affordable collections, it can still play an essential role in communicating a luxury brand’s image.
“Haute Couture is what gives our business its essential essence of luxury,” Bernard Arnault, head of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, which controls Dior, told The Daily Telegraph. “The cash it soaks up is largely irrelevant. Set against the money we lose has to be the value of the image couture gives us. Look at the attention the collections attract.”
Other leading European luxury houses have staged similarly glossy events in China to cultivate and project their brands in this fast growing market — and cater to local couture-level clients. Chanel, who first presented a 'demi-couture' Pre-Fall collection there in 2009, now visits the country twice a year to fulfil demand from private clients.
Disclosure: LVMH is part of a consortium of investors which has a minority stake in The Business of Fashion.