Haute couture - uniqueness guaranteed… 0

Haute couture, or ‘high tailoring’, is a term describing clothes sewn by hand, on commission, always unique and one-of-a-kind. If you don something haute couture, you know that nowhere else in the entire world you’ll find a second copy of your gown, dress or blouse. You can also be sure that it’ll be made of the best textiles with luxe complements and unusual finishing. In a nutshell, haute couture is the utmost sophistication and luxury, it is art. Each design gets created in the span of months and requires a whole team of people. Haute couture gowns, dresses or blouses cannot be bought in a high street shop. If you want to get hold of one there is only one way — visiting a designer’s atelier, getting your measurement taken and…. waiting patiently for weeks for the dress to be completed. But it is always worth the wait. It’s a no brainer for every woman, who wants to look spectacular and original…

Rose Bertin, tailor to a true style icon, Marie Antoinette, is considered by many to be the godmother of haute couture. Her work served as an inspiration to Charles Frederick Worth who promoted the definition of haute couture. Worth established his fashion house in Paris in 1858. He started off as a tailor making clothes to order, later he started destining for collections a year allowing his clients to choose from the clothes already designed. Soon he became successful and built his own fashion empire, which employed 1200 seamstresses in1870. He sold his designs all over the world and among his clients were such important figures as princess Victoria, empress Eugenie, empress Elizabeth, actresses and other stars of the stage. Worth was very protective of rights to his designs. That it was, along with his sons, he initiated the foundation of Chamber Syndicale de la Haute Couture. This institution to this day holds the right to label a particular collection or design ‘high tailoring’. Since 1945, the notion of haute couture has been legally protected. Currently, haute couture is limited to a handful of fashion houses, which need to apply for permission to the Ministry of Industry to use the label.

For a fashion house to be considered haute couture it needs to have an atelier in Paris and employs at least 20 people. Another condition that needs to be fulfilled is 50 day and evening designs that need to be presented. Fashion shows take place twice a year at January and July fashion week, which are held behind close doors. They take place in France and Italy (for Fendi and Dolce&Gabbana). Before the war, there were 50,000 people working on designing haute couture gowns and there were 1000 haute couture fashion houses. These days, several labels are employing 4500 people.

Among the couturiers (house couture designers) worth mentioning are: Callot, Jean Patou, Paul Poiret, Vionnet, Lanvin, Coco Chanel, Schiaparelli, Cristobal Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Lacroix, Jean-Paul Gaultier i Thierry Mugler and the most renown fashion houses are: Chanel, Christian Dior, Christophe Josse, Franck Sorbier, Elie Saab, Giambattista Valli, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Maison Margiela, Stéphane Rolland, Yiqing Yin.

Haute couture is not just about the high-quality fabrics, but also astronomical prices - a blouse can cost even 10,000 dollars, the prices of suits start from 16,000 dollars, and those of dresses even 100,000 dollars. There is no upper limit, and the cost depends on textiles, laces, feathers, and decorations used, as well as the time the seamstresses and designers devoted on a particular gown which can amount to as much as 150 hours of handiwork.

Haute couture designs are one of a kind works of art. Purchasing an haute couture item can be perceived as equal to the investment in art. It is in most cases a highly costly purchase - a suit designed by Coco Chanel herself or a dress by Christian Dior from the post-war era can be worth than many paintings. Haute couture dresses, blouses and skirts are exceptional clothes for exceptional women. They are definitely worth paying attention to if you have hundreds of dollars to spend on clothes…

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