The Couture Club: The Who’s Who Of Fashion’s Biggest Spenders

Millie Stapleton
The Couture Club: The Who’s Who Of Fashion’s Biggest Spenders
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With the haute couture shows in full swing in Paris, one thing is for certain—the price of admission to join the couture club (in other words, to actually buy couture) is high. It has been estimated that there are around 4,000 haute couture clients in the world. There aren’t that many women, after all, who can spend $25,000 and up on an article of fashion.
Here, the who’s who of couture’s biggest clients. From the woman who employs a maid just to take of her couture collection, to the collector with over a 1,000 haute couture pieces in her closet, we have to admit we are tad jealous of the women on this list.
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The couture club is one of the most elite (and well dressed) clubs in the world. Scroll through to find out about the very fashionable women who spend big on haute couture fashions.

Daphne Guinness

Source of Wealth: Guinness is the direct descendant of beer magnate Arthur Guinness. 

Favorite Designers: Her favorites include Gareth Pugh, Azzedine Alaia, Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander McQueen, and Philip Treacy. 

Tom Ford once described this fashion icon as "one-of if not the-most stylish women living." Revered for her eccentric style (and for also blurting out "I'll eat when I'm dead" when offered lunch once) she is always a massive fan of haute couture and has a wardrobe that includes 2,500 garments. Because her clothes and style have stirred so much interest, a hundred of her most important pieces went on display at the Fashion Institute of Technology last year including shoes made by the late Alexander McQueen who she was a close friend of.

Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Roger Dubuis

Elena Perminova

Source of Wealth: This former Russuian model is the wife of billionaire baron Alexander Lebedev (a former KPG spy and owner of The Independent and the London Evening Standard newspapers). 

Favorite Designers: She cites Christopher Kane, Gareth Pugh, Chloe, Prada, and Giambattista Valli as favorites.

Perminova can regularly be seen attending fashion shows and she recently walked for Céline. Always dressed head-to-toe in original and eye-catching ensembles she has been nicknamed the "haute couture poster girl." Not many women would walk around the streets of Paris in Chanel Haute Couture, but Perminova does.

Photo: Francois Durand/Getty Images

Becca Cason Thrash

Source of Wealth: Thrash is married to eCorp CEO John Thrash who is the heir to a natural gas storage business.

Favorite Designers: Her favorite designers include Ralph Rucci, Christian Dior, and Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Featured regularly on Harper's Bazaar Best Dressed list, Thrash is well known for her lavish fundraisers for charities including the Kennedy-Shriver foundation and the Louvre. Naturally, Thrash is also a huge customer of haute couture and she claims she has never bought a garment that hasn't been tailored to fit her. Thrash owns roughly a dozen couture pieces and she doesn't mind wearing them again and again. According to Thrash: "Couture is the pinnacle of fashion."

Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Bulgari

Lynn Wyatt

Source of Wealth: Wyatt's grandfather started the Sakowitz Department store chain, and she went on to marry an energy executive who founded the Houston-based Coastal Corporation. 

Favorite Designers: Wyatt favors designs from Karl Lagerfeld, Carolina Herrera, Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, and Giorgio Armani.

Wyatt, who describes haute couture as "sculpture in fabric" has a closet that includes pieces made by Karl Lagerfeld, original le smoking suits from Yves Saint Laurent, and even a gold sequined haute-couture jacket made by Coco Chanel herself.

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned

Source of Wealth: Sheikha Mozah is the second of the three wives of the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who is former Emir of the State of Qatar. 

Favorite Designers: She is a loyal Valentino customer to her core.

On Sheikha Mozah's official visit to the UK this year, her wardrobe sparked so much interest and admiration British designer Julien Macdonald declared her a style icon claiming her "style is rich with power and confidence, yet retains a real femininity that many woman aspire to." Her most recent haute couture purchases have been picked straight from the runway and then tailored to suit her personal taste, in most cases making the pieces less revealing.

Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Queen Rania of Jordan

Source of Wealth: Queen Rania is married to King Abdullah who is King of Jordan.

Favorite Designers: Queen Rania wears clothes by traditional Jordanian dressmakers as well as top designer names like Elie Saab and Christian Dior.

Queen Rania’s style has been noticed by the likes of Vogue who named her in their best-dressed list even though she claims she doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about fashion. She has often been described as not as conspicuous as other haute couture clients, and pragmatic with her purchases. Pragmatic and couture? Not two words you normally hear together.

Photo: ARTHUR EDWARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Ulyana Sergeenko

Source of Wealth: Married to a Russian insurance billionaire, Sergeenko is also a stylist, blogger, photographer, and occasional fashion model and designer. 

Favorite Designers: Her favorite designer is John Galliano for Dior, but other designers with a spot in her closet are Jean Paul Gaultier, Chanel, Valentino, and Givenchy.

From a humble background, Sergeenko's love for fashion started when she was in school when she had to make her own clothes. She's stated that this was the start of her couture obsession as she was "born in couture." After many years as a couture customer, she decided to launch her own fashion line recently.

Photo: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

Carroll Petrie

Source of Wealth: Petrie has been married several times including once to a Baron. A widow of the clothing magnate Milton Petrie, Petrie was left with a massive trust fund, a plane, cars, and real estate.

Favorite Designers: Christian Dior and Chanel make the cut.

Petrie's wedding dress was made by Christian Dior himself in the late 1940s. Featured in the BBC documentary "The Secret World of Haute Couture" she talked about the haute couture world and how she has a maid who is employed purely to take care of the massive number of designer pieces she owns.

Mouna Ayoub Zulu

Source Of Wealth: This French socialite was once married to Nasser Al- Rashid, who was the financial adviser to the King of Saudi Arabia.

Favorite Designers: Her two favorite designers are Jean Paul Gaultier and John Galliano. 

Zulu is one of couture's biggest clients, with over 1,000 couture pieces hanging in her closet including a black Chanel coat that took 800 hours of embroidery to create and an ivory lace outfit from Jean-Louis Scherrer (who also designed her wedding dress back in 1979). Her personal collection is so renowned it was exhibited at the Musée de la Mode et du Textile in Paris.

Anar Aitzhanova

Source Of Wealth: Aitzhanova, who hails from Kazakhstan, is the widow of the chairman of TuranAlem bank, Yerzhan Tatishev.

Favorite Designers: Aitzhanova rarely misses a Christian Dior show.

Little is known about exactly how much haute couture Aitzhanova owns. Taking into account the fact that she is such a regular presence at haute couture week in Paris, it is safe to assume she is a major customer. They don't just invite anyone.

Susan Gutfreund

Source of Wealth: Gutfruend is married to John Gutfreund, who was once one of the most powerful men in the cliquish world of Wall Street when he served as CEO of investment bank Salomon Brothers. 

Branded as the queen of couture in the 1980s, Gutfreund is known for her big spending habits (she once hired a crane so that she could fit a 20 foot Christmas tree into her New York City apartment). Explaining why she loves couture she said: "I bought this dress and I felt like I had been transformed. Very much how a young girl feels when she sees her first Cinderella movie."

Suzanna Saperstein

Source Of Wealth: Saperstein was married to David Saperstein, founder of the Metro Network.

Favorite Designers: Her favorite designers include John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, and the late Alexander McQueen.

This LA socialite is a valued couture customer who in 2002 was named the world's biggest haute couture client by Vanity Fair. She is known for asking designers to sketch her wearing her couture pieces so that she can then hang it on her walls. Her most outrageous couture buy was a clown suit made by Givenchy that she wore to her daughter's circus themed bat-mitzvah.  

Tatiana Sorokko

Source Of Wealth: Sorokko is married to real estate developer Serge Sorokko. She's also had a career as a model and a magazine editor.

Favorite Designers: Sorokko doesn't like picking favorites and has said "style comes from understanding fashion and proportion, not following trends."

As one of the world's most well known couture collectors, Sorokko has loaned some of her collection to museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and San Francisco's California Palace of the Legion of Honor. Many of the haute couture gowns in her collection boast details like luxurious sequin and metallic thread embroideries, hand-burnt ostrich feathers, and pearl embellishments. 

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Roger Vivier

Danielle Steel

Source Of Wealth: Steel is an American novelist who is currently the best selling author alive and the fourth best selling author of all time. 

Favorite Designers: Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Lacroix.

Steel is an avid haute couture collector who has even spoken about her sadness around the decline of haute couture. While few details are known about just how much haute couture she owns, her giant collection of Christina Louboutin shoes, 6,000 pairs in total, is estimated to be worth $2 million. 

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Susan Casden

Source Of Wealth: Casden is the wife of Alan Casden, a real estate billionaire. 

Favorite Designers: Her favorite designer is Karl Lagerfeld and it's no surprise she is reportedly Chanel's top US couture client

Casden's first ever couture outfit was a black bouclé jacket with a white tuxedo blouse and a black lace, tulle, and feather skirt. Casden regularly attends the haute couture fashion shows in Paris and has become a serious collector of Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, and Gaultier. Her mark in the fashion world has been so significant she received what could only be considered the ultimate honor—a Hermès bag named after her.

Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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