All about haute couture

All about haute couture

Paris Haute Couture Week is an exciting celebration of impeccable skill, designer imagination, and handcraft. Do you know why haute couture is so special? In today’s digest, you will find out all about haute couture. Keep scrolling!

Haute couture (literally translates as “high fashion” from French) emerged in the late XIX century in Paris, when the first fashion shops started to open and the first couturiers started their business. Interestingly, the co-founder of haute couture wasn’t French – it was an English fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth who in 1858 opened his dressmaking store in Paris and then started dividing clothing collections by seasons which no one had done before.

Haute Couture Week can be held in France only. Brands that can take part in the fashion week get chosen by Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (Trade Association of High Fashion) in accordance with the list of requirements. The standards were established in 1945 – a fashion brand has to release new collections consisting of at least 35 items two times a year.

An haute couture item can have only 35% of machine stitches, though many brands construct their haute couture garments by hand from start to finish – this is considered top class.

It takes 150 hours on average to construct one dress. However, there are some record-breakers among the garments. For instance, creating a look for Chanel's Fall-Winter 2018 Haute Couture collection took sewists 1000 hours. And it took 1600 hours to sew a wedding dress for Chiara Ferragni that was designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior’s artistic director. Items that require hand embroidery and decoration might take even 6000 hours to create!

The other important thing is that sewists allowed to create true haute couture garments have to have a special license. Today 2200 people have it. They are called “les petite mains”, which means “the small hands.”

Only 16 fashion houses have a right to call their collections haute couture. They must have at least one fitting per collection and present 50 looks a year. They also must have an atelier in Paris and employ French staff. Official Paris Haute Couture Week’s participants are Adeline André, Alexandre Vauthier, Alexis Mabille, Bouchra Jarrar, Chanel, Christian Dior, Franck Sorbier, Giambattista Valli, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Julien Fournié, Maison Margiela, Maison Rabih Kayrouz, Maurizio Galante, Schiaparelli, and Stéphane Rolland.

Correspondent members and foreign haute couture members with no atelier in Paris are also allowed to participate. These include Azzedine Alaïa, Elie Saab, Fendi Couture, Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Versace, and Viktor & Rolf. There also may be special guests like Balenciaga, Jil Sander, and JW Anderson.

The participant lists can be updated, and the guest brands may vary.

Haute couture garments don’t have a fixed price because it depends on the material costs and working hours costs. One haute couture dress can cost anywhere from 9,000 to 1 million euros.

Now that you’ve learned about how fashion brands work on haute couture collections, it will be even more interesting to watch this haute couture week’s fashion shows! Try to perceive the looks as artworks and pay close attention to invested forces and skill.

More posts about fashion:

5 spectacular collabs between artists and fashion designers

Top 5 of Alessandro Michele’s fashion shows for Gucci

Exploring menswear trends of 2022