Haute Couture

   The craft known as haute couture emerged in seventeenth-century France, with luxury textiles as its base. However, it was Charles Frederick Worth, the father of couture, who opened the first couture house in 1856. Worth initiated the organization Chambre Syndicale de la confection et de la couture pour dames and fillettes in 1868, whose name changed in 1910 to the Chambre Syndicale de la couture parisienne. In 1928, an affiliate school was started under the French Ministry of National Education called L'École de la Chambre Syndicale de la couture parisienne which became the training ground for Paris ateliers. By 1945, the Chambre Syndicale clearly defined the made-to-order couture business with criteria that fashion houses had to adhere to in order to qualify to use the name couture. The term haute couture is protected by French law and according to the Chambre Syndicale, "only those companies mentioned on the list that is drawn up each year by a commission domiciled at the Ministry for Industry are entitled to avail themselves thereof."
   In 1992, couture rules were updated to include the following: the house must present a collection of 35 pieces consisting of day and eveningwear twice each year, for spring/summer collection (January) and autumn/winter (August); they must design fashions that are made-to-measure for private clients that require one or more fittings; and the house must have a workroom in Paris with a minimum of fifteen full-time workers. In the couture tradition, a female designer is known as a couturière, while a male designer is a couturier. Described as the authority in regard to clothing that was luxurious and original in concept, couturières began receiving name recognition in the mid-nineteenth century. A couturier will hire a modelliste, who assists with the creation of the design, fabric, and trims. A toile is created by draping either on a live model or on a dress form. It is then fitted on a mannequin who will wear the garment during the showings. The garments are sewn and overseen in the designer's workroom (atelier) by carefully constructed layers of skilled workers called midinettes consisting of a première (female head of workroom) or a premier (male head), who is responsible for putting the design into three-dimensional form; a seconde (assistant of the premier); petits mains (sewers); and arpettes (apprentices). The skilled sewers are divided into two areas: the flou, where dresses and gowns are made and the tailleur, for jackets and suits. While sewing machines and irons are used for primary seams, the buttons and buttonholes, pleats, zippers, and embroideries are all done by hand. Couture garments can require three to ten fittings and can take anywhere from 100 to 1,000 hours to make, depending on the complexity of the garment. In the 1990s, couture garments ranged from $15,000 to $150,000 each, depending on the fabric and amount of beading, embroidery, and other details. A specially trained salesperson, known as a vendeuse, works with clients, catering to his/her every whim.
   In 1973, the Chambre Syndicale de la couture parisienne merged with the Prêt-à-Porter federation and became the Fédération française de la couture, du prêt-à-porter des couturiers et des créateurs de mode. In 1975, the Fédération de l'union nationale des artisanale de la couture et des activites connexes merged with the Fédération.
   In 1939, there were 70 haute couture houses; in 1996, only 18; and, in 2006 that number dwindled to 10 official haute couture members' houses, namely Adeline Andé, Chanel, Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix, Dominique Sirop, Emanuel Ungaro, Franck Sorbier, Givenchy, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Louis Scherrer. Correspondent members for 2006 include Elie Saab, Giorgio Armani, and Valentino. Guest members are Adam Jones, Anne-Valérie Hash, Boudicca, Carven, Cathy Pill, Christophe Josse, Eymeric François, Felipe Oliveiera Baptista, Gustav Lins, Lefranc Ferrant, Maison Martin Margiela, Marc Le Bihan, Maurizio Galante, Nicolas Le Cauchois, On Aura Tout Vu, Ralph Rucci, Richard Rene, and Gerald Watelet.
   Today, couture houses serve as true design labs and assist the houses in maintaining press relations, as well as add prestige to their ready-to-wear and perfume collections. Saint Catherine, the guardian saint of unmarried girls, is considered the patron saint of haute couture. Saint Catherine's day is celebrated in November.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Haute couture — (French for high sewing or high dressmaking ; pronounced|oːt kuˈty) refers to the creation of exclusive custom fitted fashions. It originally referred to Englishman Charles Frederick Worth s work, produced in Paris in the mid nineteenth century.… …   Wikipedia

  • Haute-couture — Boutique de joaillerie Chanel, place Vendôme à Paris La haute couture est le secteur professionnel dans lequel exercent les créateurs de vêtements de luxe. Aujourd hui, elle s organise autour de maisons de haute couture, des enseignes pour… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Haute Couture — Boutique de joaillerie Chanel, place Vendôme à Paris La haute couture est le secteur professionnel dans lequel exercent les créateurs de vêtements de luxe. Aujourd hui, elle s organise autour de maisons de haute couture, des enseignes pour… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Haute Couture — Haute Cou|ture 〈[o:t kuty:r] f.; ; unz.〉 vollendete Schneiderkunst, das schöpferische Modeschaffen, bes. in Paris ● ein Modell der Haute Couture [frz., eigtl. „hohe Schneiderkunst“] * * * Haute Cou|ture [(h)o:tku ty:ɐ̯ ], die; [frz., zu: haut =… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • haute couture — UK US noun [U] ► COMMERCE, MARKETING expensive high quality clothes of original design, especially for women, or the business of designing and making these clothes: »Haute couture clothing is marked by superior craftsmanship and is usually made… …   Financial and business terms

  • Haute Couture — Haute Cou|ture [(h)o:tku ty:ɐ̯] die; <aus gleichbed. fr. haute couture, vgl. ↑Couture> Schneiderkunst, die für die elegante Mode tonangebend ist (bes. in Paris u. Rom) …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • haute-couture — /fr. ˌotkuˈtyr/ [vc. fr., letteralmente «alta (haute) moda (couture, propriamente «cucitura»)»] loc. sost. f. inv. alta moda □ sartoria …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Haute couture — ● Haute couture ensemble des maisons de couture parisiennes …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • haute couture — ► NOUN ▪ the designing and making of high quality clothes by leading fashion houses. ORIGIN French, high dressmaking …   English terms dictionary

  • haute couture — [ōt΄ko͞o toor′] n. [Fr, lit., high sewing] 1. the leading designers and creators of new fashions in clothing for women, collectively 2. the clothing created by them …   English World dictionary

  • Haute Couture — Pierre Balmain richtet etwas am Kleid von Ruth Ford, 1947, Fotografie von Carl van Vechten Als Haute Couture [ot kuˈtyːʁ] (französisch für „gehobene Schneiderei“) werden – im Gegensatz zur spätestens in den 1950er Jahren etablierten Prêt à porter …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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