It Took 450 Hours to Create One Dress From Dior's Couture Collection

Here are a few other things you could do in the same amount of time. 

Photo: Peter White/Getty Images

Hang around the fashion world long enough, and you're bound to hear someone talking about the "fashion calendar." The fashion calendar is the regular cycle of runway shows, and the production schedules designers and fashion houses are meant to keep up with. It is brutal. Maybe five years ago, designers held shows for their spring and fall collections, and released one or two other mini collections (resort and pre-fall) throughout the year; now the public expects newness pretty much all the time. Brands are planning full-on runway extravaganzas all over the world five or six times a year, and the pace is relentless.

In the middle of all of this, some houses also present couture collections twice a year, which, despite the breakneck speed of fashion, celebrate the time and skill it takes to produce a garment. These clothes are not mass produced — they're made specifically for a client, so the shows are more art than commerce, and the pieces that walk the runway are spectacular.

Dior Couture 6

Early this week, Dior presented its circus-themed couture collection, and one dress in particular, made of basket-woven, individually dyed strips of silk tulle. According to the brand: "Lengths of silk tulle of a quality associated with Monsieur Dior’s era have been hand-dyed in subtly graded shades. It was then carefully woven by hand on a boned foundation in the manner of a basket weave by a single petite main. This dress represents 450 hours of work."

Dior Couture 3
Dior Couture 1

Let's think about that for a second: 450 hours is a lot of hours. That's almost 19 full days — nearly three full weeks of work. You could watch every available episode of Game of Thrones six times in that span. You could drive from New York City to Panama City, Panama five times. That's enough time to read all four novels in Ferrante's Neapolitan series and host a salon to discuss themes and then fly to Naples. In other words, 450 hours is a very, very, very long time. Here's a peek at just what it took to make this dress — if you don't speak French, I think you can still get the idea.

And not for nothing — some of the practices employed in making couture garments are art forms that would otherwise be lost. If ever there was a case for fashion being more than just something you put on your body, this is it.

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