by Alexander Fury .

Couture Look V - Dress and Shoes by Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci

Riccardo Tisci's creation for Givenchy haute couture is our first look of this second day of Nick Knight's Couture 2011 shoot - frothed with thousands of hand-stripped ostrich feathers, hand-appliquéd with a Japanese crane in satin, chiffon and tulle, hand-dyed in degrade shades through limoncello to softest ivory... did I get the suffix 'hand' in there enough? As ready-to-wear is increasing its levels of complexity, exclusivity and expense season-on-season, the insistence on hand-craft is the one way haute couture can assert its position as fashion's equivalent of Formula One. It's not only that designers get the chance to lavish hundred (or even thousands) of hours of handwork on a garment - the very name haute couture demands that garments are entirely made by the human hand, with nary a machine-stitch in sight. Tisci has lavished weeks of work on this Givenchy gown, but even the simplest suit is the result of a hundred or so hours of concentrated labour, fitted to a client's individual measurements and with every stitch sewn by the petit mains ('little hands') who crouch in couture ateliers to complete miles of intricate needlework every season.