In Pictures: Celebrities turn out for Paris Fashion Week
For years fashion pundits and sceptics alike have been predicting the death of what may seem to many an archaic and overly-indulgent discipline.
But the autumn/winter 2012 collections, which kicked off at the Ritz in Paris last night with Donatella Versace's first bona fide Atelier Versace catwalk show since 2004, demonstrate that haute couture is thriving.
All eyes were on Christian Dior in particular last night, where Raf Simon officially took over from John Galliano in April.
There may be no more than a few hundred women wealthy enough in the world to afford couture, but industry figures say the business is an active one.
Earlier this year Versace chief executive Gian Giacomo Ferraris told Women's Wear Daily that the company's couture workshop, which employs about 30 seamstresses, had escaped restructuring cuts made in 2009 because Ms Versace “protected and maintained it”.
But the cost of a runway show was deemed prohibitive. Instead, private clients and celebrities have been viewing the collection behind closed doors. After healthy haute couture revenues for 2011, and a slightly larger presentation in January, more money is being invested in this most upscale and elitist arm of the label.
Chanel is expanding its haute couture business too. That collection, designed by Karl Lagerfeld, will be shown today.