Let’s put it this way: couture fashion is what everyone wants. This is perhaps the highest standard one could ever dream of (and we say perhaps because there might be a few exceptions who are not particularly interested in it). Pairing couture and fashion is, in fact, how people who are not actually aware of what it means refer to it. If you want to be a real pro you will refer to it as haute couture. Haute couture means “high fashion” or “high dressmaking”. But just as the translation suggests, this kind of fashion is not accessible to everyone. Thus, it is so wanted. Preparing any haute piece of clothing is no easy task. There is a lot of money involved, expert hands that know exactly what they are doing and great technique and finesse. Yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds. But what is truly interesting is that those who are fans and wearers of such clothing consider the budget to be irrelevant.
But how is this possible? The amount of time it takes to tailor the perfect dress, the required skill and the precision with which everything has to be sown must amount to a fortune! Exactly! That is the point. It is automatically considered that, if you are looking for couture items and that if you are willing to buy them, you are rich. Money is not a problem for you. Now, as baffling as that might seem to you, it is quite a normal way of thinking for the rich. Why? Because the purchase of one such piece is somewhat of an investment. It’s not entirely. The moment you walk out that story the value of your new clothes drops instantly. But those clothes are one of a kind items that not one single person in the world will have. It is all yours. It is a matter of property.
Short History of Haute Couture
If you are wondering when this trend started, we need to go back in time to the year 1700. This is when haute couture made its first appearance. It is actually Queen Marie Antoinette’s fashion designer that we have to thank for: Rose Bertin. It quickly became mainstream as half of Europe was already copying the designs and there were many women who even ordered dolls for themselves and their daughters dressed in the couture style. Interestingly enough, this type of fashion also made Paris a great attraction. Steamships and railroads were making a stand and this presented itself to be the greatest opportunity for women all across Europe to visit the capital and purchase some of the trendiest clothes and accessories at that time. Although Bretin started it all, Charles Frederick Worth is considered the father of couture because of the enormous impact he had on the industry. Funnily enough, he was born English but was highly popular in the French fashion industry. He literally invented the job of fashion designer. New, unique designs were being created within certain amounts of time, specific fabrics were used, very different from the ones that you would find on the market, and the fact that the level and the quality of service were so good, this movement practically generated the need to be dressed better than anyone else. This is what history teaches us, but we know a little bit better than others, don’t we? That need was always there, it’s just the exclusivity of it all attracted more and more people. It worked. And it changed the world of fashion forever. If you are interested in couture shops that you can easily find nowadays, you might as well give Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin or André Courrèges a try. These are the most exquisite shops that you can find at the moment. However, do know that there are other shops there as well, but these are definitely the best of the best.
The Importance of Couture Fashion
If you really want to know how much this industry is valued, you should know that even the term haute couture is protected by the French law. Yes, it’s that serious. There is even a chambre syndicale de la haute couture, which is basically the chamber which decides which houses are eligible for the status of haute couture. In short, you pretty much have to be good if you want this status because it is so high that not anybody can have it. Some have discussed that this is a snobbish act for a few clothes, but if we consider the fact that these clothes are an entire culture, more like a religion, for some people, it is quite normal for it to be protected with such fierceness. After all, we are talking about a three century old style that has changed the world. It would be a mistake to be left unattended. There are a few criteria that any haute couture house must fulfill in order to attain its status. First of all, everything that it produces must be made-to-order (private clients only) with at least one fitting (although it is highly required that you have more). Then you absolutely need to have a workshop in Paris. No workshop, no business. It also needs to have a number of 15 staff members. They all need to work full time. You also need to employ technical people (20 is the minimum) and your house must always be able to present at least 50 original designs every coming season. This last criteria is usually the one that makes or breaks a business. This type of fashion is no joke. Even though the imitation game is played here as well, designers really need to think their craft carefully for the sake of their houses. These designers work day and night. There are very few people in the world who can manage such an extraordinary craft, but the truth is that it is entirely worth it. The pride that you feel and that you bring to your house is exceptional and, of course, the money that you generate exceeds your wildest expectations.
How People Decide to Cheat Haute Couture
By now, you might have realized what a big thing this is. It’s been around for centuries, there are battles that have to be won, statuses to be maintained and the criteria that needs to be fulfilled on a regular basis can be a total killer. Because it is so popular, there are also people who try to cheat the system. How? Through the use of different terms. This might sound silly in the beginning. Why would anyone do such a thing? For the reason all people do silly things: money. When you talk haute couture you know you are talking about something big. But something big always has a price to pay. Taxes, expensive prices and an image that is hard to maintain. If you use another term, but maintain that same experience, you might get away with it. Some people have tried. The 1980s have brought a new term with them: prêt-à-porter, which means ready-to-wear. Now let’s take a look at both terms and see what the differences are. Haoute couture is all about luxury, but you know that you have to go to a shop, get your measurements done, you know that specific high-end materials are being used in order to have your dresses done, etc. With prêt-à-porter. You pretty much feel that something is not right. Haute si ready-to-wear clothing as well, but that sounds a little different. It sounds special, uplifting, there is just a certain ring to it. With the latter you almost instantly feel that you are moving to an inferior level. The clothes are literally stripped of their glamour.
Many houses were forced (actually, forced themselves) out of haute in order to keep up with this trend and they obviously lost their status as couture houses. The need for money exceeded the need for beauty. Haute and prêt-à-porter, became two different things: good clothes for the rich and good clothes for the not so rich. In the end, they’re all good clothes. So that’s pretty much it. This is just for you to get a good idea what couture is all about. Don’t think that prêt-à-porter, caused its decline, by the way. It actually enhanced it, in some way. It created another middle social layer between those who cannot afford the most expensive clothes on the market and those for whom money is not an issue at all. It is safe to say that couture is more exclusive than it ever was before just because some people tried to dodge the rules. So here are all the things that you need to remember: couture fashion is all about luxury and keeping things very personal. It’s quite experience focused. You are not only paying for the clothes, but for having them made for you, too. The term si protected by French law and, if you really want to have a couture house, you need to establish some serious partnerships because the criteria are rough.