Naomi Campbell's Oprah Moment... A Take on Couture... Martha Up...

Naomi Campbell was on her best behavior when she sat down with Oprah Winfrey, according to sources.

A TAKE ON COUTURE: What’s a couturier to do when Ladies Who Lunch from New York to Los Angeles decide that those high-priced, one-of-a-kind designs no longer have a place in their wardrobe? Look elsewhere, naturally and, right now, that means Russia and the Middle East. The cover story in the new issue of WSJ. takes on the topic of couture and how designers are rethinking the business. Nancy Hass writes that some designers, including Valentino and Givenchy, are taking steps to modernize and appeal to younger women, while others are trying to bridge the gap through made-for-occasion couture that caters to celebrities during each Hollywood awards season. “They may not pay for the couture gowns they wear, but they walk red carpets and provide fashion houses with a global platform to keep couture on everyone’s radar,” Hass writes. “Elie Saab, though much of the industry turns its nose up at his intricately detailed beaded creations, figured this out years ago.”

To the younger generation, Hass said the very notion of couture seems old fashioned and fusty, “a relic of the Betsy Bloomingdale and Nancy Reagan era.” A prime example is Lizzie Tisch, who is married to Loews Hotels chairman Jonathan Tisch and chair of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Friends of the Costume Institute. Tisch has never been to Paris for the couture collections and doesn’t have time for fittings. “Couture is not really something my friends and I think about for ourselves,” she says, adding, “I can buy a Balmain jacket off the rack at Barneys or Bergdorf Goodman that I can wear with my J. Crew T-shirt and I’m not worried I’ll see it on someone else, so what’s the point of buying couture?”

But perhaps the most pessimistic view came from Oscar de la Renta — who for years did couture at Balmain and trained with Cristobal Balenciaga but who now calls the art “completely irrelevant,” noting it’s not necessary to promote a brand. “Customers are smart,” de la Renta says. “They know that a $10,000 wedding dress will look as beautiful as a $1 million wedding dress. Maybe it will not be finished the same way inside, but who will know?”

— Amy Wicks

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