What is Haute Couture ?
Hello and welcome back to another wonderful and exciting article on fashion, design, and the oddities that lie within. Today I will be speaking about a random name that I came across multiple times, but never really knew enough about, but decided to delve into and now share with you all.
The word Haute Couture is very striking, it provokes a sense of passion, daring, and confusion. Also it is very misused. It should roll off the tongue and pronounced as ‘hot’ right? but spelled so differently and just foreign to us Americans. Is it some new sub-genre on the rise or a centuries old tradition? Let us explore these and more, as you step into the . . Haute Zone . ( sinister music que here )
According to Wikipedia Haute Couture is French for “high sewing” “high dressmaking” or “high fashion”. This also is refereed to as sewing, needlework, or fashion, with certain stipulations. It is the exclusivity of custom created clothing. This is a very high fashion, all hand crafted from start to finish process that includes high quality, expensive materials, and unusual fabrics. Pretty cool so far right? These very time consuming techniques were only attempted by the finest of tailors in a time when glamour was everything. Considering the amount of time and skill level put into this, price was never an object when it came to these exclusive pieces.
There was actually a criteria for haute couture made in the 1940’s that must be met to meet these high standards. This applied to promotions, marketing, and advertising and the rules are as follows being updated as recently as 1992
- design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings;
- have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen staff members full-time;
- have at least twenty full-time technical people, in at least one workshop (atelier); and
- present a collection of at least fifty original designs to the public every fashion season (twice, in January and July of each year), of both day and evening garments.
Wow what high standards, but fitting I suppose as everyone and their mother would probably be ripping off such a cool spelling and name, cheapening the ideal, and thus making Haute Couture the next JNCO jean or Von Dutch or whoever just decided to brand themselves as such for a quick cash grab.
Dating back to the 17th century, this term is not to be taken lightly and is deeply rooted in history and tradition, so it only makes sense that strict guidelines were put into place to protect it’s integrity. In fact a woman named Rose Bertin who was the French fashion designer to Queen Marie Antoinette, is credited for originally bringing the term and phrase to French culture.
Chanel brought the term back for awhile to specify it’s use for their special collections, many of which are not available for sale, or if they are, come at a very steep price tag. They have some pretty amazing content on style from concept to the runway available to view which can bring you up to date on the most current happenings in this centuries old trend.
Aside from Chanel, Valentino and Dior also have some pretty amazing collections as well, paying both a tribute and homage to the old while blending in the new. Just as recently as July 2016 Paris featured a haute couture weekend runway which was documented here and is definitely worth a look.