Jul 1, 2016
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Levi's jeans and Dr Martens boots become haute couture

Jul 1, 2016

 It's something that was just not done -- until now.

This weekend in Paris, however, rebel brand Vetements will shock the rarefied world of haute couture by bringing Dr Martens boots and Levi's jeans to the catwalk.

Iconic Dr Martens boots with signature yellow stitching around the soles. - Dr Martens

Traditionally only a small number of the world's richest women can afford the exquisite handmade clothes shown at the couture shows, which only take place in the French capital.

But the iconoclastic label led by fashion's designer of the moment Demna Gvasalia -- whose hoodies sell for $1,000 (890 euros) a piece -- is set to cock a snook at convention in his show Sunday.

Invited as a guest designer to show alongside the elite coterie of 14 houses that make up haute couture, Gvasalia will unveil a collection made mostly from clothes from casual and sportswear brands such as Schott, Reebok, Carhartt and Champion.

In two years, the young Georgian has made Vetements fashion's biggest trendsetter, recutting high street or vintage clothes with his wonky, oversized look inspired by 1990s streetwear, often with long "gorilla sleeves".

He made headlines last year when one of his seemingly banal yellow DHL T-shirts became a ironic must-have for fashionistas. Despite it 220-euro price tag it quickly sold out, with even the delivery company's chairman being photographed in one.

Vetements told AFP that they were also working with high-end fashion houses Comme des Garcons and Brioni on the show, with shoes from stiletto master Manolo Blahnik.

There would, however, also be a series of dresses that were entirely of their own making, the brand insisted.

- Urban wheatfield -

While Gvasalia -- who is now also creative director at Balenciaga -- has thrown the rulebook out the window, the long established haute couture houses like Chanel and Christian Dior seem if anything to be going back to their roots.

Chanel recreated a classic haute couture salon last season for its show, and its new autumn winter collection will be themed on a creator's studio, highlighting the craft and the hundreds of woman hours involved in making every piece.

It even commissioned the artist Gad Weil to turn the chichi Place Vendome in front of its Paris headquarters into a wheatfield to celebrate its founder Coco Chanel's love of the wheatsheaf motif.

The same tradition of high elegance is likely to continue at Dior if Maria Grazia Chiuri takes over as creative director there this month.

A well-placed source told AFP that the 52-year-old Italian, who has turned around the fortunes of Valentino since she took over with her longtime partner Pierpaolo Piccioli in 2008, will take the post left vacant by the shock departure of Raf Simons last year.

Dior's Monday show is being overseen by the Swiss pair Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux, who have stepped into the breach since Simon's exit.

Only 14 fashion houses have the right to call themselves haute couture -- Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Maison Margiela, Giambattista Valli, Franck Sorbier, Adeline Andre, Alexandre Vauthier, Alexis Mabille, Bouchra Jarrar, Maurizio Galante, Yiqing Yin and Stephane Rolland.

The haute couture shows run until Thursday.

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