A high-end fashion house that specializes in creating one-of-a-kind garments for its clients is known as an haute couture company. Haute Couture means “high sewing” or “high fashion” in French. In this industry, workers spend hundreds of hours creating a single item for a limited number of buyers. Haute couture products are custom-made for specific individuals, making them unique and priceless for consumers.
A History of Haute Couture
Although French culture is known for its impeccable fashion, it was an Englishman who inspired the concept of haute couture. In 1856, Charles Frederick Worth moved to Paris and opened his own dressmaking department in a fabric store called Gagelin. While working at Gagelin, Worth started creating bespoke pieces for his clients instead of selling them the materials like most other textile stores. His shop quickly gained a loyal following. This eventually led to Worth founding his own boutique, which he named Worth et Bobergh.
After Princess Eugenie got married to Napoleon III and began wearing his designs, Worth’s designs caught the attention of royal fans. He would then provide her with the entire wardrobe, including his intricate ballgowns and everyday wear. Worth was also the first designer to regularly show his creations on live models, which is a requirement for those hoping to be accepted into the prestigious Fédération de la Haute Couture.
Regulating Haute Couture
The organizations that regulate the industry in Paris are responsible for protecting the various brands and designers that fall under the umbrella of haute couture, such as Chanel, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Schiaparelli. Only 14 designers fall under the label of this prestigious organization.
It can be very confusing for consumers when it comes to the term “haute couture.” For instance, when it comes to clothing brands such as Juicy Couture, they can’t accurately use the term “couture” because they’re not associated with the high-end industry. While “couture” alone isn’t regulated, “haute couture” is protected by French law and is not allowed to be used without approval because it’s associated with an exclusive market.
Contrary to popular belief, not everything that’s handmade counts as haute couture. In order to be considered a true haute couture designer, a company must have at least 15 staff members and no less than 20 technical staff members. This includes over 2,200 skilled artisans known as le petit mains, who provide the detail and expertise for the creations. The company must be able to provide clients with private showings and multiple fittings. Additionally, to be considered a true haute couture designer, a company must also have at least 25 looks at Paris’ prestigious Haute Couture Fashion Week.
Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris
The lavish event, which takes place every year in Paris, is attended by hundreds of clients who are waiting to purchase the perfect dress from the designers. Even if fashion houses aren’t able to make a huge profit from this industry, Haute Couture Week is still a significant part of the industry.
The lavish setting and the intricate designs that are displayed during the shows are designed to show off the work that the designers have put into their creations. This year, for instance, the streets of Paris were recreated for the shows held by both Schiaparelli and Chanel.
Haute Couture Clients
One of the most prominent individuals who frequently purchases the creations of the designers who are featured during the shows is Daphne Guinness, a British socialite. She frequently purchases the designs of Alexander McQueen and other high-end designers.
During an interview with The Talks, Guinness explained her passion for the industry and the importance of attending the shows. She said that the events allow people to see the process of making a design.
Other prominent individuals who frequently purchase the creations of the designers who are featured during the shows are Elena Perminova, the wife of Alexander Lebedev, and Queen Rania of Jordan.
Although it’s difficult for the average consumer to participate in the shows, they provide an opportunity to see the work of some of the world’s most talented designers.