Knocking on Haute Couture's Door

High fashion may be a shadow of its former self, but young designers like Anne Valérie Hash still aspire to join the exclusive club. Here's how the process works

In the atelier of her Paris design house, Anne Valérie Hash watches intently as a seamstress fastens an embroidered silk belt to a dark blue gown with a plunging neckline. Hash's first haute couture runway show is 15 hours away, and the room hums with the sound of sewing machines and hissing steam irons as the 35-year-old designer and her staff make final alterations.

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