In fact, fabric content is pretty much a nonissue for most customers of designer fashions today, according to Sarah Rutson, the ultra-chic fashion director for Hong Kong–based department store Lane Crawford, “It’s all about the style and the design. They don’t care what it’s made of, especially if it’s Lanvin,” she says. “I’m not even concerned about it.”
Case in point: In some recent Lanvin collections, Elbaz used parachute silk, which is available widely and cheaply in Asia. Yet Rutson’s customers who buy Lanvin, one of today’s hottest labels, didn’t balk. “If he made a collection out of sackcloth, it would work,” she quips.
Golbin agrees fabric content is a non-issue, “unless it’s ultraluxurious. I’m not sure people look at the composition today, except for 100 percent cashmere.”
Jacobs says he prefers when polyester is “not pretending to be silk. There are a couple of mills that are really great. We’ve always used it. Right now, fashion is about a look, and people will buy what they like the look of.”
Elbaz notes that Lanvin’s polyester, while less expensive than other fabrics he uses, was more technically challenging because of its light and delicate nature. “We had to double and triple the fabric and use couture techniques of sewing, draping and cutting to mold the fabric,” he says.
Given that the Seventies represented Jacobs’s formative fashion years, he says he harbors “fond memories of polyester” and DuPont’s Qiana nylon, another favorite. “I don’t have any aversion to it,” he says. “I have three pairs of polyester pants from Comme des Garçons, and I love them.”
Ditto for Waters, an avowed fan of Kawakubo’s, who is famous for her intentionally crinkled and rumpled polyester suits. In fact, his only lament for the fabric is that he has to give a crash course in fashion design to his dry cleaner in Baltimore “because they try to fix it.”