Dominique Sirop

That haute couture craftsmanship is still alive and even has a future at a time when the global fashion industry is permanently catching up with itself is due to designers like Dominique Sirop. The Frenchman is successful because he was ready to liberate haute couture from its shackles: “We are now at a turning point. The big ball gown, which takes three thousand hours to make and which has four thousand pearls on it, is no longer in touch with reality. The future of couture is not to simply make people dream. My clients wear everyday the clothes I make for them.” Tailoring and serviceability, luxury and simplicity – these are the pillars on which Dominique Sirop con­structed his Parisian couture business. And he seems to have struck exactly the right tone.

Dominique Sirop was born in Paris in 1955. As his mother was a well-known model, we may assume that fashion is in his blood. He himself says that “by the age of seven, I knew that I wanted to be either a fashion designer, a magician or the Sun King.” Ten years later, thanks to his mother’s good offices, he did a traineeship at Yves Saint Laurent, where he learned the foundations of tailoring. But it was someone else who discovered his talent: in 1978, armed with a few sketches, he introduced himself to Hubert de Givenchy, who immediately took him on as an assistant. This collaboration lasted until 1989, when Sirop moved to Japanese fashion house Hanae Mori as a designer.

The turning point in Dominique Sirop’s career came after Hubert de Givenchy retired from the operative side of his business; in 1996 Sirop opened his own fashion business, and within a year was admitted to the exclusive ranks of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris. Critic Susy Menkes was one of the first to recognise his potential: “Any conventional fashion-conscious woman would kill for these clothes. The bosses of couture houses now want wacky, attention-grabbing shows, rather than client-pleasers. But Sirop’s collection was a timely reminder that cut and class are still the high-Cs of haute couture.” Soon many former Givenchy customers were defecting to him, thanks not just to his comparatively realistic prices but also to his ability to redefine classic essentials.

Dominique Sirop’s style – he describes himself as a “minimalist dandy” – is feminine and sensual, but for all that always pure and low-key. His materials flow around the female body, his colours exude warmth, and his embroidery and ornaments always complement the simple cuts. Though he was not allowed to take over at the helm of his mentor, he continues his spirit: “Hubert de Givenchy made me understand that true elegance is a case of getting rid of all excess and refining the silhouette so that only the basic essentials are left.”

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