The fashion world is geared up for the haute couture shows in Paris that started earlier this week. We’ve shown you some of our favorite collections from Chanel and Dior haute couture—and even interviewed buzzing couture designer Zuhair Murad—so I thought it would be a good time to go back and talk about what couture means and what makes it the ultimate fashion fantasy (you know, those magnificent gowns that just happen to end up on, say, the Oscars red carpet—eh hem, Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, you wear couture beautifully!).
Let’s have a look!
1. Haute Couture literally translates to “high dressmaking.” A hand-painted silk ball skirt? An intricately beaded and boned corset? Couturiers produce the highest quality work, with garments that literally take hundreds of hours to produce by hand and are custom made for each client’s figure.
2. There are only a handful of couture clients in the world. But to the fashion industry and fashion lovers, couture serves as inspiration and fantasy. Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Raf Simons are some of the most closely watched couturiers in the world. You will see silhouettes and details that start at couture and trickle into fashion at every price category.
3. A fashion house may be inducted into haute couture by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture if it meets certain criteria including creating made-to-order items for private clients that require one or more fittings, has an atelier based in Paris with at least 20 full-time employees, and presents at least 35 looks each season. Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, and Stephane Rolland are in this elite, invitation-only category.
4. Some French Couturiers you might not have heard of? Adeline Andre, Anne Valerie Hash, Christophe Josse, Franck Sorbier, Alexis Mabille, Atelier Gustavolins. Check out their collections. They will inspire and astound you.
5. Some designers outside of France are invited to participate on a revolving basis, including some names you are very familiar with, such as Elie Saab, Valentino, Atelier Versace, and Armani Prive.
6. Fun fact: The first couture designer was actually an Englishman! In 1868, Charles Frederick Worth was the first designer to lead the charge as a couturier.
The couture collections are an opportunity for designers to show off what they can do and create a true fashion fantasy. These collections are all about moving fashion forward and evolving the way we think about style.