What is Haute Couture?
You’ve probably heard the word couture being thrown around like “fetch” at a mean girls convention but what is couture and when is it appropriate to use?
First here’s a question game to help you learn what couture means and how it impacts my mood when the term “Couture” is used inappropriately!
What’s a sure fire way to get me to roll my eyes?
Talk to me about a new fashion brand called Bla Bla Bla Couture.
How to get me to give you the stare down?
Refer to a piece of clothing in a store as “almost couture”.
How do you get me to “silly string” your face?
Tell me you’re starting a new clothing line called bla bla bla couture.
Haute Couture is only couture when it is made in France by hand, when it is defined by law from the Chamber of Commerce and industry of Paris (Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris) and only when the fashion house is on “The List,” either as an official member (like Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy, and Jean Paul Gaultier), a corresponding member (not from France i.e. Elie Saab, Giorgio Armani for Armani Prive, Versace and Valentino), or a guest member like the incredible Iris Van Herpen and my new personal favorite Alexandre Vauthier). The list changes each year and is released from the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture. As you can imagine is pretty discriminating.
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. (Wikipedia) It’s annoying that an art form is widdled down to something with the word juicy in front of it.
I understand the difference between using a buzz word like couture to make yourself seem hip and cool and trying to come across as a haute couturier but then why not pick a different word like maybe one in English? You’re not a couturier… you know unless you are so, just stop it.
Now keep in mind there are other factors that must be met when you’re an official couturier including designing made-to-order pieces for private clients with one or more fittings, having an atelier in Paris with at least fifteen full time employees employing at least twenty full time technical people in one atelier and OF COURSE present at least fifty designs to the public twice a year in January and July. Oh and did I mention that each dress takes between 100 – 1000 hours of hand work each so it’s no wonder the prices range from $20,000 euro to well over six figures.
But speaking of couture, the shows are on right now in Paris for Fall 2014 so go check them out on my blog (link in the description below) and tell me what you think of them in the comments.