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The Secret World Of Haute Couture. Thanks to BBC.
“Haute couture”, French for “high sewing” or “high dressmaking” or “high fashion”) refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable seamstresses, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. “Couture” means dressmaking, sewing, or needlework and is also used as a common abbreviation of haute couture and refers to the same thing in spirit.”Haute” means elegant or high. An haute couture garment is made specifically for the wearer’s measurements and body stance.
It originally referred to Englishman Charles Frederick Worth’s work, produced in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century. In modern France, haute couture is a “protected name” that can be used only by firms that meet certain well-defined standards.
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. The “chambre syndicale de la haute couture” is defined as “the regulating commission that determines which fashion houses are eligible to be true haute couture houses”. 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 chambre does a lot more than decide which companies are haute couture. They deal with piracy of style, foreign relations and coordination of the fashion collection timetables, and do some international advertising for the French fashion industry.The chambre also runs a Paris couture school to teach up and coming designers and technicians the couture trade.The school helps bring new designers to help the couture houses that are still present today. The criteria for haute couture were established in 1945 and updated in 1992.
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:
– Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
– Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
– Must have twenty full-time technical people in at least one atelier (workshop).
– 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.
However, the term haute couture may have been misused by ready-to-wear brands since the late 1980s, so that its true meaning may have become blurred with that of prêt-à-porter (the French term for ready-to-wear fashion) in the public perception. Every haute couture house also markets prêt-à-porter collections, which typically deliver a higher return on investment than their custom clothing. Falling revenues have forced a few couture houses to abandon their less profitable couture division and concentrate solely on the less prestigious prêt-à-porter. These houses are no longer considered haute couture.