Merrill Lynch and Cap Gemini issued the 2007 edition of their annual World Wealth Report last week and the Financial Times and other media took notice, remarking on the dramatic growth of high-net worth individuals and the risky investment strategies that have helped make the world's rich even richer (subscription required). And then, today's WWD reported on the dramatic rise in Haute Couture sales experienced by houses from Dior to Chanel to Givenchy. Was Haute Couture's death knell premature?
Conventional wisdom says that the Haute Couture lines of famous Parisian fashion houses are more like publicity machines and creative R&D playgrounds. For the price of a collection of hand-made, intricately designed dresses, the maisons of Paris get millions of dollars worth of media coverage that helps build the mystique and exclusiveness of their brands. In this way, couture is the single most important method for communicating the individual persona of a luxury fashion brand.