Dior banks on Haute Couture in China

Monday, 08 April 2013
French luxury fashion house Dior presented its Haute Couture show in Shanghai on 30th March – for the first time in China since creative head Raf Simons took the reins. The success of the show indicates that it is all set to become an annual event.

Around 300 visitors gathered in a revamped warehouse at Shanghai's stunning Bund waterfront. The fashion house recreated Dior’s Paris salon as the show was a repeat of its Spring 2013 Haute Couture collection shown in January at the Paris Couture Week.

It was Dior’s second Haute Couture show in China – the first one took place last April at the Roosevelt House in Shanghai – and at a candlelit dinner, visitors got a chance to discuss the creations and place their orders during appointments in the days after the show.

Chinese luxury consumers look for refinement and sophistication

But not only Dior is banking on China – the luxury market as a whole is discovering China and its customers who “look for refinement and sophistication” as Dior chief executive Sidney Toledano told Women’s Wear Daily. Even though couture is usually not an area that drives profits, luxury fashion houses don’t mind the expense as long as they can communicate their brand image and create a media buzz.

“Haute Couture is what gives our business its essential essence of luxury. 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,” stated Bernard Arnault, head of LVMH, which controls Dior, in conversation with The Daily Telegraph.

According to Toledano, China is such an important market for Dior because the company is winning new couture customers and because it is the “big market of tomorrow”. And he is not alone with his assessment of the market.

Other leading European luxury houses host similar couture shows – Chanel twice a year by now after doing its first one in 2009 to satisfy the demand of Chinese luxury consumers. And they want luxurious and tasteful garments that reveal the brand subtly through cuts and styles rather than bright and big logos. Reason enough for Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and co. to tone down their use of logos and patterns.

Interesting to note is that Chinese customers buying luxury fashion in China do not seem to cut down on their spending when abroad. “We see Chinese everywhere, in Paris, Milan, New York, Vancouver. There’s no conflict between their spending in China or overseas. It’s the lifestyle they’ve developed — to travel and shop. So in my opinion it’s good for Europe to have such economic relationships,” Toledano told The Shanghai Daily.

Image: Dior

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