The definition of the term Haute Couture is french for "high dressing" or "high sewing" and it refers to the creation of exclusive, custom-made, custom-fitting clothing. Haute Couture garments are made to order for specific clients and utilize the best and most expensive fabrics and embellishments. The garments are usually hand constructed and sewn by the hand of several skilled seamstresses that pay exceptional attention to details. The execution of these garments are very labour intensive and time consuming, hence the high cost. Couture is a commonly used abbreviation of Haute Couture but it is referring to the same thing.
Charles Frederick Worth was dubbed the "Father of Couture" and this talented Englishmen relocated to Paris in 1845 where he ultimately found his success. Worth frequently used lavish fabrics and luxurious trimmings. He incorporated elements of historic dress and paid particular attention to the fit of his designs. He created one-of-a-kind pieces for his most important clients, he also displayed a variety of his designs on live models at 'The House of Worth'. Clients made their selections and from there each garment was tailor-made in Worth's workshop.
A large number of surviving Worth garments are part of the permanent collection of The Costume Institute (MET), as well as in other institutions in the United States. He was popular among the American wealthy, as well as European royalty and aristocrats. his fashion house continued after his death at the hands of his sons but was closed in 1952 when his great grand-son retired from the family business.
((Source: Charles Frederick Worth (1826–1895) and The House of Worth Thematic Essay Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History The Metropolitan Museum of Art))
DID YOU KNOW? In France, the term haute couture is protected by law and is defined by the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris based in Paris, France. Their rules state that only "those companies mentioned on the list drawn up each year by a commission domiciled at the Ministry for Industry are entitled to avail themselves" of the label haute couture. The criteria for haute couture were established in 1945 and updated in 1992.
The couture house is customarily composed of two parts, one devoted to dressmaking (flou), the other devoted to tailoring (tailleur) of suits and coats.
CHRISTIAN DIOR ~ 1947
PAUL POIRET, 1919
To earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term haute couture in its advertising and any other way, members of the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture must follow these rules:
1) Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
2) Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
3) Each season (i.e., twice a year), present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.
There are 4 categories of membership which include; Official Members, Correspondent members (Foregin), Guest members, Jewelery and accessories.
2011 Members include (Official & Correspondent - foreign): Adeline André, Anne Valérie Hash, Atelier Gustavo Lins, Chanel, Christian Dior, Christophe Josse, Franck Sorbier, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Maurizio Galante, Stéphane Rolland, Elie Saab, Giorgio Armani,Maison Martin Margiela, Valentino.
HUBERT De GIVENCHY, 1968
JEAN PAUL GAULTIER, 2010
Jewelery: Boucheron, Chanel Joaillerie Chaumet, Dior Joaillerie, Van Cleef & Arpels
Accessories: Loulou de la Falaise, Maison Michel Massaro, On Aura Tout Vu
FORMER MEMBERS: Donatella Versace, Elsa Schiaparelli, Emilio Pucci, Chado Ralph Rucci, Christian Lacroix, Erica Spitulski, Erik Tenorio, Fred Sathal, Guy Laroche, Hanae Mori, Jean Patou, Jean-Louis Scherrer, Lanvin, Lecoanet Hemant, Loris Azzaro, Louis Feraud, Mainbocher, Marcel Rochas, Nina Ricci, Paco Rabanne, Pierre Balmain
Pierre Cardin, Ralph Rucci, Torrente, Yves Saint Laurent, Gai Mattiolo
ATELIER VERSACE (Gianni Versace)
I read somewhere that there are approximately 2,000 women who still purchase haute couture. The designers reserve their high-end creations for celebrities to wear down the red carpets around the world. It is an amazing advertisement for the houses and still makes the dying craft relevant.
The term has been mis-used within the industry since the 1980's ~ Imagine the looks on the faces of the REAL "Couturiers" when they see a Velour Track suit with the label "Couture" .. . not so Juicy.
Haute Couture?? I don't think so ....