Haute couture

Haute couture

Haute couture (French for "high sewing" or "high dressmaking"; pronounced|oːt kuˈty) refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted fashions. It originally referred to Englishman Charles Frederick Worth's work, produced in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century. In modern France, haute couture is a "protected name" that can be used only by firms that meet certain well-defined standards. However, the term is also used loosely to describe all high-fashion custom-fitted clothing, whether it is produced in Paris or in other fashion capitals such as Milan, London, Rome, New York and Tokyo. "Haute couture" is made to order for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques.

The term can refer to:
* the fashion houses or fashion designers that create exclusive and often trend-setting fashions
* the fashions created

Legal status

In France, the term "haute couture" is protected by law and is defined by the "Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris" based in Paris, France. Their rules state that only "those companies mentioned on the list drawn up each year

= by a commission domiciled at the Ministry for Industry are entitled to avail themselves" of the label "haute couture". The criteria for "haute couture" were established in 1945 and updated in 1992.

To earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term "haute couture" in its advertising and any other way, members of the"Chambre syndicale de la haute couture must follow these rules:

  • Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
  • Have a workshop ("atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
  • Each season (i.e., twice a year), present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.

However, the term "----haute couture" may have been misused by ready-to-wear brands since the late 1980s, so that its true meaning may have become blurred with that of "prêt-à-porter" (the French term for "ready-to-wear" fashion) in the public perception. Every "haute couture" house also markets "prêt-à-porter" collections, which typically deliver a higher return on investment than their custom clothing Fact|date=July 2008. In fact, much of the "haute couture" displayed at fashion shows today is rarely sold; it is created to enhance the prestige of the house Fact|date=July 2008. Falling revenues have forced a few "couture" houses to abandon their less profitable "couture" division and concentrate solely on the less prestigious "prêt-à-porter." These houses, such as Italian designer Antonio Capucci, all of whom have their workshops in Italy, are no longer considered "haute couture."

Many top designer fashion houses, such as Chanel, use the word for some of their special collections. These collections are often not for sale or they are very difficult to purchase. Sometimes, "haute couture" doesn't mean just creation of new models of cloth wear, but it's also a type of fine art, like any other ones, as sculpture, painting, music and more. Moreover, "haute couture" can even include all of the mentioned components. [ [http://www.fashion-blog.us/2008/08/11/wuyong-dancing-in-a-haute-couture-debut/ Wuyong - Dancing In A Haute Couture Debut] ]

Members of the "Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture"

As of the 2008/2009 Fall/Winter Haute Couture Fashion Week.cite web|url=http://www.modeaparis.com/va/collections/2008hahc/index.html|title=Haute-Couture Fall Winter 2008/2009 Definitive schedule|accessdate=2008-06-27]

Guest members from the 2008 Spring/Summer Haute Couture week also included Eymeric François, Gérald Watelet, Nicolas Le Cauchois and On aura tout vu.cite web|url=http://www.modeaparis.com/va/collections/2008ephc/index.html|title=Haute-Couture Spring Summer 2008 Definitive schedule|accessdate=2008-06-27]

Former members


French leadership in European fashion may perhaps be dated from the 18th century, when the art, architecture, music, and fashions of the French court at Versailles were imitated across Europe Fact|date=August 2008. Visitors to Paris brought back clothing that was then copied by local dressmakers. Stylish women also ordered fashion dolls dressed in the latest Parisian fashion to serve as models.

As railroads and steamships made European travel easier, it was increasingly common for wealthy women to travel to Paris to shop for clothing and accessories. French fitters and dressmakers were commonly thought to be the best in Europe, and real Parisian garments were considered better than local imitations.

The "couturier" Charles Frederick Worth (October 13, 1826–March 10, 1895), is widely considered the father of "haute couture" as it is known today. Although born in Bourne, Lincolnshire, England, Worth made his mark in the French fashion industry. While he created one-of-a-kind designs to please some of his titled or wealthy customers, he is best known for preparing a portfolio of designs that were shown on live models at the House of Worth. Clients selected one model, specified colors and fabrics, and had a duplicate garment tailor-made in Worth's workshop. Worth combined individual tailoring with a standardization more characteristic of the ready-to-wear clothing industry, which was also developing during this period.

Following in Worth's footsteps were Callot Soeurs, Patou, Poiret, Vionnet, Fortuny, Lanvin, Chanel, Mainbocher, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, and Dior. Some of these fashion houses still exist today, under the leadership of modern designers.

In the 1960s a group of young designers who had trained under men like Dior and Balenciaga left these established "couture" houses and opened their own establishments. The most successful of these young designers were Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, André Courrèges, and Emanuel Ungaro. Japanese native and Paris-based Hanae Mori, a woman, was also successful in establishing her own line.

Lacroix is perhaps the most successful of the fashion houses to have been started in the late 20th century. Other new houses have included Jean-Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler.

For all these fashion houses, custom clothing is no longer the main source of income, often costing much more than it earns through direct sales; it only adds the aura of fashion to their ventures in ready-to-wear clothing and related luxury products such as shoes and perfumes, and licensing ventures that earn greater returns for the company. Excessive commercialization and profit-making can be damaging, however. Cardin, for example, licensed with abandon in the 1980s and his name lost most of its fashionable cachet when anyone could buy Cardin luggage at a discount store.

The 1960s also featured a revolt against established fashion standards by mods, rockers, and hippies, as well as an increasing internationalization of the fashion scene. Jet travel had spawned a jet set that partied—and shopped—just as happily in New York as in Paris. Rich women no longer felt that a Paris dress was necessarily better than one sewn elsewhere. While Paris is still pre-eminent in the fashion world, it is no longer the sole arbiter of fashion.

See also

* Fédération française de la couture
* Fashion designer
* Fashion Week
* Designer label
* Luxury brand
* List of grands couturiers
* Business cluster
* Maite Dalila


External links

* [http://chicstories.com/history/introduction-in-haute-couture/ Introduction in Haute Couture]
* [http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/label_france/ENGLISH/DOSSIER/MODE/MOD.html "Haute Couture"] from "Label France", a magazine of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs
* [http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/haut/hd_haut.htm Haute Couture] at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Timeline of Art History"
* cite web |publisher= Victoria and Albert Museum
url= http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/1486_couture/exhibition.php
title= The Golden Age of Couture
accessdate= 2007-09-13

* cite web |publisher= Victoria and Albert Museum
url= http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/1486_couture/explore.php
title= Interactive timeline of couture houses and couturier biographies

* [http://www.modeaparis.com Fédération française de la couture]


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