Many of us have heard or use the term Haute Couture. There are several boutiques which I have noticed bearing this name, tough the items sold are far from what Haute Couture really represents. This term has become well connected to the fashion world because it sound very French, it sound chic, it sound expensive....But what is actually Haute Couture?
Translated literally it means high sewing, high dressmaking, high fashion. In practice, it is the impeccable art of making luxurious clothes. What makes them luxurious is the fact that they are fitted for each buyer's needs and body structure, are made by hand, out of unique and high quality materials, embroideries, and decorations. In some cases certain materials and patterns are reserved for one couture house only.
The process of creating a couture piece begins with the desired design of the garment made out of muslin or linen canvas - materials which are not expensive and which are used only to make the sample (or called toile). This is crucial as many of the couture designs are extravagant and with a complicated construction so the toile prevents loosing quantities of the the extremely expensive materials (some of them 120 eur/meter) used later on in the process. Once the toile is agreed to be working the seating starts. Each piece of clothes has a minimum of three fittings of the client. After each fitting the garment is "deconstructed" to pieces and put on a table and only then needed corrections are made. The finishing of a piece may take up 100-150 hours for a suit and 1000 hours for an embellished evening dress.
To get this perfectly made garment buyers pay incredible sums - ranging from 10.000 eur for a blouse, 20.000 eur for a Chanel suit to 50,000 eur and above for an evening dress. This high amounts payed to wear couture ensure that no one else will have the exactly same garment.
Tough couture has been used by many companies, in France, working couture clothes is protected by law. According to it, there is a certain criteria established in 1945 and revised in 1992 about what makes a company a haute couture maker. They include the possibility of ordering clothes, private fittings, having an atelier with at least 15 employees, and presenting a collection to the press each season (twice a year). In 2010, one of the official domestic members were Chanel, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, and international - Valentino, Elie Saab, Armani....
Several of the spring 2011 couture collections are already out and these are my daydreaming favorites so far...