Paris Haute Couture Week to go online-only for the first time

The biannual occasion usually features several labels from the region, including Elie Saab and Maison Rabih Kayrouz

epa08150962 A model presents a creation from the Spring/Summer 2020 Haute Couture collection by Lebanese designer Elie Saab during the Paris Fashion Week, in Paris, France, 22 January 2020. The presentation of the Haute Couture collections runs from 20 to 23 January 2020.  EPA/IAN LANGSDON
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It's a biannual occasion that celebrates the creme de la creme of craftsmanship.

And now many of us can get closer than ever to Paris's Haute Couture Week.

The summer chapter of the sartorial spectacle will be held entirely online for the first time ever, the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture confirmed on Friday, May 29.

From Monday, July 6, to Wednesday, July 8, the governing body for couture – an artform that requires pieces to be constructed by hand from start to finish – will host videos from accredited maisons on a virtual platform.

"Each house will be represented in the form of a creative film or video," the federation confirmed, adding that content will be rolled out on a schedule, echoing the traditional format of a fashion week.

It has not yet been confirmed which designers will take part in the new digital concept, but the week is traditionally attended by a ream of designers from the region.

Maison Rabih Kayrouz, the namesake label of the Lebanese couturier, is one of just 16 labels permanently on the haute couture calendar, alongside the likes of Dior, Givenchy and Chanel.

Elie Saab, meanwhile, is a correspondent member of the federation, while Georges Hobeika and Zuhair Murad are guest members. Labels can also be invited to show season by season, with Beirut's Rami Kadi holding his debut couture show in the French capital in 2019.

None of the Middle Easten labels have yet confirmed if they will participate in the virtual format.

The July shows were set to include some exciting unveilings, including a collaboration between Sacai’s Chitose Abe and Jean Paul Gaultier, as well as Balenciaga's return to couture for the first time in 50 years. Both labels have confirmed they will postpone their shows until 2021, as has Giorgio Armani.

Staggeringly expensive to produce, couture is bought by barely 200 people worldwide, yet stands as the absolute pinnacle of technical know-how and creativity.

Labels need to adhere to strict criteria to qualify for the renowned title of haute couture, such as showing two couture collections of at least 25 looks a piece every year, producing handmade pieces in a Paris-based atelier, and creating made-to-measure clothing for private clients.

Designers who create the above, but have not been granted haute couture status by the federation must simply refer to their collections as couture.