- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2004

French fashion

“On the fashion runways in Paris this week, the house of Dior presented outlandish Egypt-inspired clothes that few women can afford on gangly, exquisite models that few buyers resemble. With prices for a dress running from $15,000 to over $100,000, how do designers make money selling haute couture?

Actually, they don’t. Couture is not a volume business and, on its own, would not even be a financially viable one. To begin with, most of what is shown on runways during fashion weeks around the world is not haute couture but [ready-to-wear]; couture is only shown in Paris and even there only by a few fashion houses. … [H]aute couture is an artisanal product that is cut, sewn, embroidered, and beaded by hand in a regulated atelier. Each piece of couture is unique and, depending on the amount of embroidery or beading to be done, can require up to 150 hours of labor to produce.

The couture tradition was founded in Paris in 1858, and it remains, in its reliance on craftsmanship and indifference to economies of scale, a characteristically French endeavor. …

“Couture … serves to create a brand identity that rubs off on the perfume, cosmetics, and leather goods … where the profit margins are fat and the real money is to be made.”

Sean Rocha, writing on “Who Pays $15,000 for a Dress?” Wednesday in Slate at www.slate.com

‘Grievance culture’

“When Cromwell instructed his portraitist to paint him ‘warts and all,’ he meant both halves of the equation: unless you see ‘all,’ you cannot honestly evaluate the ‘warts’; to understand the blemishes on the record, you first have to understand the record. To teach the warts alone is a morbid fetish. Mr. Bush should take the lead in a campaign against the debilitating equivalence of multiculturalism, but parents must play their part, too: every little first-grade Thanksgiving that gets hijacked by the grievance culture is an act of violence against truth and history. In the ‘90s, urban police departments came to realize that if you failed to deal with small, trivial crimes they led to more and bigger ones. We need a cultural equivalent of that ‘broken window’ policy. If you let a craven principal take the Pilgrims and Algonquins out of Thanksgiving, you kick away one of the small steps on which a child climbs to informed adulthood.”

Mark Steyn, writing on “Expensive illiterates,” in the New Criterion this month

They really hate us

“Just at a time when the United States is again and again portrayed internationally as a repugnant and self-centered force in world events, one of our nation’s main problems is that so many non-Americans want to come and live here. …

“Whether we fill Japanese movie theaters with Hollywood films, Hong Kong restaurants with McDonald’s hamburgers, Johannesburg offices with Microsoft software, Havana with U.S. dollars, or Kuwait City with Christian religious concepts, we are resented for doing so. … We’re even resented by our friends; thousands of Israelis protested in Jerusalem … angered in part by U.S. pressure on Israel to be a bit more accommodating toward the Palestinians.

“We are stupid if we deny all this. … [T]he mere fact that several hundred thousand immigrants have a high enough opinion of the United States to give everything they have to get here — well, that still shouldn’t blind us to the fact that many more foreigners than that really do hate our guts.”

Joel Belz, writing on “As Others See Us,” in this Saturday’s issue of World


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