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Things to know about Haute Couture – The soul of high fashion

The stage was filled with natural scenery in Elie Saab's Spring-Summer 2015 performance

Haute Couture is a place where designers indulge their passion for creativity, an opportunity to enjoy the most luxurious outfits. Before there is a flourishing fashion season, let’s look back at the high-fashion picture in 2-century history.

When the Haute Couture season comes, fans can admire the eye-catching fashion collections from many cult brands. To mark a new season about to begin, here are some basics you need to know about your dream of high fashion from France.

HAUTE COUTURE IS REGULATED BY THE GOVERNMENT

If translated literally, in French, “couture” means “to make clothes” and “Haute” means “luxury”. This luxury item can only be made one piece for a particular customer. Founded in the 19th century, Haute Couture is a special title created by the Government of France. Each year, Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (High-Level Tailor Union) will come up with a list of official fashion houses that meet the following requirements.

To become an official Haute Couture fashion brand, members must meet certain conditions. They have to tailor clothes to private customers, have more than 1 prototype, and use a garment factory with at least 15 full-time employees.

Additionally, members must have 20 full-time technical staff members in one of the workshops. Finally, fashion houses from Haute Couture must present a collection of no less than 35 designs to the public each season of the year, in January and July.

If the above conditions are not met, the fashion brand will be removed from the list. This happened to the Givenchy fashion house in Spring – Summer 2013. No brand, no matter how influential, can break the rules set in 1945.

COUTURE AND HAUTE COUTURE IS NOT ONE

People often confuse the two concepts Couture and Haute Couture. If Haute Couture means high-end tailoring and was founded by the French government, Couture refers only to unique and handcrafted outfits.

MEMBERS OF HAUTE COUTURE

In 1946, there were 106 members on the Haute Couture list. However, in the post-WWII era, many brands were unable to meet the conditions that Haute Couture offered. They are forced to mass-produce and reduce the number of customers for the high-fashion line.

Up to now, the list on the French official Haute Couture website has typical names such as:

  • Chanel
  • Christian Dior
  • Givenchy
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Ralph & Russo
  • Herm├Ęs
  • Elie Saab
  • Versace
  • Valentino
  • Saint Laurent
  • Balmain

THE SEWING HOUSE IS THE FOUNDATION

The high fashion houses manage and divide the tailors according to each specific task. In the documentary Dior and I, Dior’s tailor house is divided into a flour house (for soft clothing such as a skirt) and a tailor (for suits and apparel).

In each tailor, the main employees are supervised by ahead. This person is also responsible for the management of the test sessions because brands have to provide samples to customers. For some brands, like Christian Dior, each outfit requires at least 3 prototypes.

VIEWERS ARE CUSTOMERS

In addition to the regular participation of the press, the majority of viewers are customers or their representatives. Marjorie Harvey, the wife of celebrity host Steve Harvey, is a loyal audience of couture alongside many other big names like Daphne Guinness, Lynn Wyatt and author Danielle Steel.

Not all customers are invited, but the people who pay the most and the people with the highest status are often present at the show.

CHANEL IS THE BIGGEST HIGH-CLASS FASHION BRAND

If you wonder why Chanel shows have always been the longest, it is because of the number of employees working at its tailor-made. Each outfit is usually created by the main group, from the number of costumes appearing at the show, one can see how large Chanel’s tailor is.

While Dior has only 2, Chanel has 4 tailors, including 2 tailors for soft materials and 2 houses for thick materials. There are many collections, the prime example is Spring 2015, created from the hands of 100 tailors.

IMPRESSIVE STAGE AT HAUTE COUTURE

Haute Couture is the “stage” for designers to express their endless creativity. In addition to the most luxurious costumes, the fashion catwalk at Haute Couture is also on a different level with countless themes such as casinos, aircraft cabins, tropical forests…

Designer Karl Lagerfeld once again made fans admire when he set up the Fall - Winter 2016 runway for the Fendi brand at the Trevi fountain in Rome
Designer Karl Lagerfeld once again made fans admire when he set up the Fall – Winter 2016 runway for the Fendi brand at the Trevi fountain in Rome

 

The stage was filled with natural scenery in Elie Saab's Spring-Summer 2015 performance
The stage was filled with natural scenery in Elie Saab’s Spring-Summer 2015 performance

 

Chanel's Spring-Summer runway in 2012 recreates the aircraft cabin model
Chanel’s Spring-Summer runway in 2012 recreates the aircraft cabin model

 

Chanel Autumn-Winter collection in a casino setting
Chanel Autumn-Winter collection in a casino setting

 

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