Twice a year the city of Paris is center stage of the marvellous world of haute couture. It’s origine lie in the nineteenth century where a Frenchman called Charles Frederick Worth started showing his bespoke artistic designs for a selected public. Serving the rich and royal Worth presented made-to-measure garments executed by the most skilled individuals. What he actually did, was not only creating high fashion for the prestigious, but also making the designer or the couturier as someone to be admired and lifted their status as a whole. Some of the fashion houses that followed in Worth’s footsteps still exist today, such as Chanel, Christian Dior and Valentino.
Today haute couture is as vibrant as ever. Although only a select group of wealthy customers can afford the ten thousands of dollars costing garments; a single wedding gown can go up to a hundred thousand of dollars.
Being a discrete service (many clients don’t like to talk about their lavish spendings on couture and like to remain anonimous) wedding dresses such as those from Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and the Dutchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton are said to be costing in between a 100.000 and 434.000 dollars.
Couture is like a dream.
Reality is that couture doesn’t bring profit for the fashion house. Instead it generates revenue in the form of publicity. A fashion house such as Chanel creates profits from sales from cosmetics and accesoiries because of the luxury and mystery surrounding haute couture.
It’s like the halo-effect: you want to have Chanel, but when you cannot afford couture you still can afford that bottle of perfume bearing the name and luxurious feeling of the house of Chanel. In the end these are all vessels of identity.
Being a marketingtool I propose to use haute couture as a metaphor. Couture indirectly enhances revenue and this can be used as a metaphor for the relationship between exercise and health. Exercise on it’s own doesn’t make you healthy.
It’s the neuro-endocrine respons from your activated muscles that set a myriad of complex networks in motion. These networks basically shape the communications between cells, tissues and organs. And eventually it’s this communication that keeps your body healthy. The neuro-endocrine respons is also referred to as mechanotransduction, and part of mechanobiology.
Examples of intra-and extracellular communications are activation of insulin receptors on the muscle cells in order to attract carbohydrates as fuel for the cells. Another example is the positive effect of exercise induced accelerated blood flow on the elasticity of the veins and arteries. Recent research targets on bone cells being like a weight sensor (sedentary behaviour could result in bones not feeling enough bodyweight and negatively inflencing hormones of satiety) and on a better bloodflow in fat tissues resulting in less leaking of triglycerides in the blood. The collection of Margiela Artisanal shows this indirect effect of exercise on health: unwearable and even unbearable designs meant to increase the profits on cosmetics and accesoiries. And yes, exercise can be bearing and grinning it all...
But the proces of mechanotransdution also keeps your mind healthy. The sheer pressure of exercise on the central nervous system allows a proliferation of neurotransmitters to all kinds of parts of the body.
And that is the ‘neuro’ part of the neuro-endocrine respons of exercise in the body. An example is the creation of new neurons and synapses in the brain, so called neurogenesis.
That’s what I see looking at the futuristic collections of Dutch based designer Iris van Herpen; she creates new textiles and shapes using 3D-printing and moulding plastics.
Keeping the mind healthy is part of the equation. Keeping the mind happy is another part of the equation.
An example is exercise mediated stressrelief and surpression of anxiety on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
Also Dutch based designers Viktor and Rolf have shown this throughout their work in couture.
Amplified memes on huge dresses bring a smile to your face, don’t you agree?