Paris Fashion Week is filled with well dressed guests and celebrities. When you add the Haute Couture factor, it’s a mesmerizing moment in fashion. This is the glitz, the glamour; a theatrical production that turns a fashion show into a story telling moment. This mesh of fashion and theater is at its finest during Paris Fashion Week. The designs that made their way down the runway were impressive to the eye. Collections by designers such as Iris Van Herpen and Jean Paul Gaultier were classical. The crowd favorites, such as Christian Dior and Chanel, deserved the standing ovations they received. This was high fashion, artistry, craftsmanship and pure Couture sauntering down the catwalk which could not have been any more impressive.
What is Haute Couture?
One of the questions I am frequently asked is “what is couture”? People will often be intrigued by designers without realizing, what makes them great artists, and so different, is that their medium are their designs, which are considered collectors master piece.
Haute Couture is when garments are constructed by hand. Seamstresses will spend hundreds of hours making one gown or outfit. Purchasing Haute Couture is reserved for the very wealthy as each piece will be priced in the hundreds of thousands or more. Haute Couture is a collection that is presented twice a year.
A Haute Couture outfit or gown is tailored specifically to a client’s style, size, and is an expression of the designer and client’s vision. These are known as fashion’s highest quality work. A vision of art making and entrance onto the runway, as it is not only a one of a kind in its design, but is made to be worn by only a few clients which makes every one truly a collector’s piece.
It is not easy to be considered a Haute Couture fashion designer. The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, is responsible for deeming a fashion house worthy of that title, prior to the house being named Haute Couture as it is written by French law. A fashion house must meet steep standards and maintain a specific reputation before they are even considered. Many are surprised to find that there are only fifteen Haute Couture studios in Paris, including the beautiful Chanel and Dior.
The History of Haute Couture
As you might expect, Haute Couture fashion goes back long before many of the well-known designers from today made names for themselves. The House of Worth, founded by Charles Frederick Worth in 1858, was a Parisian salon that revolutionized the role of fashion designers in the industry. The House of Worth attracted royal clients and high-end fashionistas alike, earning Charles, the title of The Father of Haute Couture.
Charles was also the first designer to show his clothing on models, sew his labels into clothing, and create a “lookbook” that we all might recognize today.
It wasn’t long before other high end fashion houses began following in his footsteps, and that is when modern-day favorites such as Chanel, Dior, and Lanvin were born. More recently, in the 1960’s even more designers took up this task, which is where we got Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin.
Isn’t it interesting to see how these well-known designers have evolved? Take a look at the Paris Fashion Week Spring 2019 Couture collection and see what uniqueness, mastery and brilliance looks like and you will get to peek inside the life of Haute Couture fashion!