Is the New: Ready to Wear and Couture

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The New York Time's Thursday Styles section has been more about botox and babies than Balenciaga lately.

But today, Eric Wilson answered a question that we've been asking since we were old enough to pick up a magazine.

He offers an in-depth explanation of that annoying credit listing, "Price Available Upon Request," which we always assumed meant way too expensive unless you employ someone to make phone calls for you.

But it's actually more interesting than that: Most of those pieces, aside from the jewelry, aren't even manufactured, "Out of 30 items for which prices were requested, 21 were not available at the stores at which they were listed."

Fewer and fewer runway pieces are going into production, while retailers focus on pre-season collections. Which means that ready-to-wear is like the new couture - a vision of the designer's ideas and themes which get watered down into slightly less expensive, less fashiony, and more wearable clothes, which, given the current economic state makes a lot of sense.

But it also makes us nervous because at some point, some investor will say, "Hey, why should I pay for an extravagant runway presentation when these clothes won't make a single penny back but serve just to satisfy your creative whims and fill the pages of Vogue?"

Because the fact is, those clothes aren't couture, which actually can be bought anyway. And as high fashion brands make an increasing percentage of their money off of it-accessories and pre-season tank tops, it's only a matter of time before ready to wear goes the same way as couture.

And that makes us want to cry.

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