Let’s start with simply translating this beautiful French term. ‘Haute’ means high or elegant while ‘couture’ means sewing. It is also known as ‘the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing.’ Haute couture is simply a garment that was made by hand from start to the end. The leading fashion houses use this practice and create the most unique pieces for their private customers.
History of Haute Couture In a Nutshell
A long time ago, almost every woman knew how to sew. They were making clothes for themselves as well as for their families. Only those who were wealthy could afford to go to the tailor and have their beautiful evening dresses made by a professional garment maker who followed their requirements. The times changed in the 19th century when the English man – Charles Frederick Worth opened his first atelier Worth & Bobergh in Paris. This was the place where he was presenting his new collections. Based on the garments he was showing, his clients could order their original clothes. They could only decide on fabric choice or some small details.
Who Makes Original Haute Couture Today?
Many luxury brands today aim to become the official Haute Couture representatives. Although, there are only 14 French brands and 4 fashion houses from other countries that have qualified to be named as an official Haute Couture house.
French houses: Alexandre Vauthier, Alexis Mabille, Bouchra Jarrar, Chanel, Christian Dior, Christophe Josse, Franck Sorbier, Elie Saab, Giambattista Valli, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Maison Margiela, Stéphane Rolland, Yiqing Yin
Other houses: Armani Privé, Atelier Versace, Fendi, Valentino, Viktor & Rolf
Who Chooses the Haute Couture Fashion Houses?
Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture selects the brands based on different aspects:
- The brand needs to create made-to-order clothes for private clients
- More than one fitting per order needs to be arranged
- Each fitting needs to take place in an atelier (workshop)
- Atelier needs to have at least fifteen full-time staff
- Twenty technical full-time workers should be employed and work in the atelier
- A collection of more than 50 pieces should be presented to the public during Haute Couture fashion shows in January and July
Haute Couture Market
The haute couture market today is quite small as according to David Johnson, ‘today only 2,000 women in the world buy couture clothes; 60% are American. Only 200 are regular customers. Often, designers will loan clothes to movie stars or other public figures for publicity.’
Haute couture has been unceasingly popular during the last decade. Many people cannot afford using the services of luxury tailoring. However, we can still follow fashion shows and look at the most unique pieces that were created by different fashion designers. Haute couture fashion shows and outstanding garments often become an inspiration for creating the ready-to-wear collections and next season trends. So, stay focus and follow the gorgeous haute couture fashion shows in order to get some fashion forecasts for the next seasons.
Written by Amelia Krzapa • Editor-in-chief • AIM Magazine