IT IS AN ESPECIALLY delicate moment for the couture business. Many clients and journalists have stayed away from the Paris shows, as much for fears of terrorism as for the fact that the declining dollar has made some dresses as costly as a Mercedes.
With a shrinking list of perhaps 2,500 clients worldwide for such high-priced frippery, there has been dark talk of haute couture dying out. Houses like Nina Ricci and Jean-Louis Scherrer are in distress because up to 50 percent of their customers come from wealthy Arab nations. Pierre Balmain canceled its couture program in December, saying it was too expensive to keep going.
The Chanel show cost about $2.4 million to mount, including the price of the sample garments, according to a report in Le Figaro, a Paris newspaper. The cost is said to be justified in part by the publicity generated.