The feathers, the froth, the hefty price tag - who is buying couture gowns? It's a question that often arises in Planet Fashion, not least because Haute Couture houses are notoriously discreet about their clientele. The brands rarely release sales figures so we're often left guessing how many people are actually buying - and wearing - the gorgeous gowns which can sell for £50,000 a pop.
Well, it turns out more and more buyers are going couture as Christian Dior Couture have announced that they have had a 24 per cent rise in sales in 2012. Wowsers. WWD report that between 1 January and 31 December last year, sales totalled 1.24 billion euros, with all lines contributing to the rise in sales. 'These results reaffirm the exceptional quality of Dior’s products and the powerful appeal of its stores,' the company stated - and they're not wrong.
So why the sharp rise in sales? It may have a little something to do with the genius Raf Simons who was appointed as Dior's creative director in 2012 after much buzz and a mammoth build-up of designer musical chairs. Rather than sticking to John Galliano's elaborate trademark, he created ensembles which are streamlined and minimalist and are (shock horror) utterly wearable. Raf's couture is luxurious, yes, but you would also be able to wear it in real life and not look completely bonkers. Remember, this is the man who paired show-stopping skirts with plain white T-shirts at Jil Sander and has brought this easy sophistication to modern-day couture.
John Galliano's eccentric couture vs Raf Simons' minimalist aesthetic
Before his first collection, Raf told the New York Times, "My aim is a very modern Dior, but at the end of the day, I also look back. I find that period between 1947 and 1957 extremely attractive, and there was a lot of modernity." John Galliano's couture saw plastic wrapper hats and mounds of rainbow tulle, while Raf aims for elegance rather then eccentricity. This practical aesthetic has been critically adored as the past two couture collections have received sparkling reviews which has translated into a very healthy economic year for the French fashion house.
The rise in sales may also be thanks to the A-list Dior darlings who have been wearing Raf's couture creations on the red carpet recently - take Jennifer Lawrence and Marion Cotillard both wearing Dior Couture to the SAG Awards AND the Golden Globes last month.
See some of Raf Simons' finest Dior moments in the gallery above >>