An Introduction to Haute Couture Fashion
Many people are familiar with the term ‘haute couture’ and its connection to fashion, but few know exactly what it is or its unique significance within the fashion industry. With only about 2,000 buyers worldwide, most people will never wear one of these items. At the same time, anyone interested in fashion should be aware of the important role of haute couture fashion in shaping modern-day fashion and how we value luxury fashion items.
What is Haute Couture?
The phrase ‘haute couture’ is French for ‘high sewing’ or ‘high fashion’. Haute couture fashion items are strictly one-of-a-kind, handmade garments that can require up to 700 hours of hand-sewing for a single garment. These items are tailor-made for a specific individual, making the design process for these items a unique, non-standardised process. Often, designers of haute couture items will cater designs to the ideas or desires of their clients, giving customers a lot of influence over the haute couture items they buy.
The History of Haute Couture
Haute couture fashion emerged from a time when hand sewing and tailor-made clothing items were typical practices for many high-society individuals. The concept of haute couture originated with a British dressmaker named Charles Frederick Worth, who moved to Paris in 1856. At this point, many ladies would purchase the materials to sew their own clothing, but Worth began making bespoke dresses for his clients.
Worth’s services quickly became popular, and it wasn’t long before he attracted the attention of Princess Eugenié, who hired him to create her entire wardrobe. The demand for his clothing skyrocketed with a royal patron, as did the prices for his skilled sewing work. In addition to his renown for high-quality work, Worth was the first designer to organise yearly shows displaying his clothing on live models.
Today’s Haute Couture Fashion
The modern haute couture fashion industry is still centred in Paris and is heavily regulated. There are so many rules to follow when designing haute couture items that only fourteen designers have earned the haute couture label. The regulations are written and enforced by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode and the term ‘haute couture’ is a legally protected in France.
In order for a fashion brand to be labelled as ‘haute couture’, it has to create made-to-order garments for private clients, have a workshop in Paris with at least fifteen full-time staff members, have at least one workshop with at least twenty full-time technical people, and present a collection of at least 50 original designs twice a year during every fashion season.
The Value of Haute Couture Fashion
Haute couture fashion can seem very fanciful and out-of-reach for most people, but the concepts behind it have made valuable contributions to the fashion industry. Additionally, the practice of haute couture design is one of the best ways to showcase design skill and creativity.