Ballpark Estimate: $40 to $4,800 depending on the number of shows
If you have exquisite taste in clothes and can afford to splurge on couture items with extravagant details and embellishments that are custom fitted to your shape, then consider attending some of the upcoming Couture Fashion Week events. These luxury fashion shows provide an outlet for the best international designers to showcase their visions for the upcoming season.
Different Locations and Themes
Fashion Week events are held several times a year in upscale locations in New York City, Palm Beach and other places around the country. There are also different themes at different times of the year to elegant formal wear, unique bridal designs, luxury bathing suits and exquisite accessories.
The Couture Difference
If you’ve never worn couture, you probably don’t know what you are missing. Couture clothing is usually customized specifically for the customer so it fits perfectly and is created to enhance the wearer’s shape. It also features top of the line fabrics and has special accents (such as ornate beading, embroidery and trim) that you won’t be able to match when you buy right off a rack. Finally, custom clothes are hand-sewn, while mass marketing items (also known as ready-to-wear) are made by machine. These extra details in a couture piece makes an extreme difference in how the clothing looks and feels.
How Couture Works
While designer ready-to-wear clothing is available in department stores and boutiques in standard sizes so women buy these items directly off the racks, couture designers present their clothing through specialty fashion shows such as Couture Fashion Week, as well as in their showroom so women can select what they like and then be fitted so items can be customized for their preferences. Couture designers also have “look books” that feature the latest styles they have available and can guide customers in selecting what they want. Part of the price of couture items (which cost significantly more than ready-to-wear) is for customizing it for the wearer.
Couture Fashion Week events draw a large crowd of high-end clothing buyers, representatives from high-end and international media and celebrities and socialites, who are eager to see the latest couture lines. Produced by USA International Fashion Shows, the “week” typically consists of several days of activities, including runway shows, entertainment, networking opportunities, as well as displays of unique art and luxury accessories. Cocktail receptions and meals are also offered for VIPs.
Some recent venues where Couture Fashion Week runway shows have been held include the St. Regis Hotel, the Westin Hotel, the Waldorf Astoria and the Desmond Tutu Center (NYC), as well as at the Trump Tower and the Colony in Palm Beach. All of these locations offer especially elegant settings that serve as an appropriate backdrop for the beautiful clothes. Further, some fashion shows are more intimate affairs held in smaller rooms within these locations, while others are more opulent events held in formal ballrooms.
Internationally-acclaimed designers who have held runway shows as part of these events in the past include Ann Spoyer, Prince Williams 3rd, Soucha Couture, Sushma Patel, Andres Aquino and Sushma Patel, among many others. While all of these designers have their own unique styles and lines, they all share a love of fine fabrics, detailing and handwork that allow the customers who wear their creations to shine.
What to Expect
If the vision of a beautiful dress made from the finest fabric in the most current design and cut makes your heart race with excitement, then you will love seeing the runway shows first-hand. You can expect to be wowed when the models walk past wearing the latest creations.
In addition to the runway shows (which generally last about 20 or 30 minutes), guests are entertained by a wide range of highly-respected performers, such as acrobats, musicians, singers and dancers.
Keep in mind that many of the outfits will be extreme, with sheer bodices, feather detailing, detachable overskirts and other unusual detailing that set them apart as true works of art. Many of the designers also incorporate ethnic influences into their pieces, making them politically and socially relevant. You will find that many of the couture pieces also incorporate more of a timeless appeal than some of the ready-to-wear items sold today.
How to Attend
If you are a fashion buyer or stylist for a high-end boutique, exclusive department store, luxury clothing catalogue or website, you can apply online for an invitation to attend the events that make up Couture Fashion Week. Or, if you are a fashionista or celebrity who wears couture clothing, you may even receive a personal invitation either from one of the designers directly.
In addition, journalists, editors and photographers who work for U.S. and international print and online publications, television and blogs that cover high-end fashion and luxury items can apply online for accreditation to attend.
If you are accepted as an industry or media guest to attend one or more of the shows, or are invited to come as a special guest, there usually will be no charge to attend.
However, for the rest of the world who wants to see the couture clothes, tickets in a variety of price points are available for sale.
What It Costs
Before you look at the specific costs to attend Couture Fashion Week, it is important to point out that it is unique that you can even pay to get in. Most other fashion week shows are exclusively for the fashion industry with very few opportunities for outsiders to get past security.
Tickets for the couture shows can be bought in different configurations. The most affordable option is to attend just one show and to purchase “standing room.” The rooms are configured with the seats set up in a few long rows that span the length of the runway and the standing area is generally behind the seats. This allows people in this section to get a great view, and since the shows are short, it often isn’t uncomfortable to stand for them.
- Standing room for one show is $40.
- Standing room at all of the shows in one day (which is typically six runway events plus entertainment) is $130.
- Standing room at all three days of shows is $380.
If you prefer to sit, you can pay for general admission seats, which will also afford you a good view, although you can expect to be situated behind the first few rows where VIP seating is.
- A general admission seat for one show is $75.
- A general admission seat for all of the shows in one day is $250.
- A general admission seat for all three days of shows is $735.
For people who want the prestige of sitting in the front row, where you can expect to mingle with celebrities, top editors and other important people in the fashion industry and will also have great unencumbered views to take photos of the models, you can pay for this privilege by buying a VIP seat.
- A VIP seat for one show is $150.
- A VIP seat for all of the shows in one day is $500.
- A VIP seat for all three days is $1,475.
Finally, if money is no object and you want to go all out, you can purchase a package deal that includes front row seating, limousine transportation, a backstage tour and photos with the designers and models and inclusion at the special receptions and dinner events.
- This package for one day is $1,600.
- This package for all three days is $4,800.
So the price to attend can range from $40 for standing room at one show to $4,800 for special treatment during all three days of events.
(It is worth noting, however, that all of the prices are subject to change each season.)
If you regularly flip through the pages of high-end fashion magazines, websites and society pages to see what celebrities are wearing, you may have noticed that when they have on couture items, this is usually indicated in photograph captions. While the prices are usually not advertised for couture clothing, you can expect that these items can cost in the thousands.