With the term Haute Couture being tossed around casually these days on fashion magazine headlines and onto the labels of expensive ready-to-wear, one would be forgiven for describing a pair of jeans as couture, even if you did pay $2000 for them. Haute couture, on the other hand, is made by hand, in Paris, to the exact measurements of those who can afford it.
To the untrained eye, there's little difference between a four-figure Pucci dress bought off the rack at Barney’s and a $150,000 Christian Dior ball gown. But for haute couture’s core clients there is a big difference. At society events such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual Costume Institute Gala, or at lavish weddings in Riyadh, you'll see wealthy women flaunting both styles. But, when a socialite wears couture it means she's really serious about fashion and has the lifestyle to support it.
Cason Thrash stresses that the couture social circle is not an easy one to access. When she began collecting six or seven years back, she was lucky enough to be guided by Suzanne Saperstein, the woman Vanity Fair once called "probably the world's No. 1 consumer of haute couture."
"Couture is almost like a private club," says Cason Thrash, who favors American designer Ralph Rucci, as well as Europeans Christian Lacroix, Christian Dior and Jean-Paul Gaultier. With Saperstein in her corner, she was introduced to the right people. "Even though they need the business, it’s not easy at first to get your invitations or to get to know the directresses of the houses. But once you navigate your way through that rocky beginning, every show is a lovely reunion with like-minded individuals."
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