Sunday, 6 July 2014

Haute Couture: A Beginners' Guide
Alexandre Vauthier SS14

The great and the good of the fashion world have decamped to Paris for the next round of couture shows, which start today. 

There's many a myth surrounding this bi-annual fashion fest, but Katherine Grant Albert's 'Couture Cheat Sheet', recently featured on, aims to set the record straight... 

What is Haute Couture?
Haute Couture is the pinnacle of luxury fashion.  It refers to a made-to-measure gown, hand-stitched in Paris – a process that takes hundreds of hours and includes at least two fittings.

Lost in Translation
Haute = "high" or "elegant".
Couture = "sewing".
Haute + couture = high sewing.

Haute History
Parisians did not pioneer haute couture.  Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman working in Paris, was the first couturier back in 1868. 

Couture Club
France's Chambre Syndicale regulates haute couture.  A designer must follow their strict laws.  They must have a studio in Paris, show a collection each season, and each collection must have at least 35 looks.

Members Only
There are currently 18 members of the 'Chambre' including Chanel, Dior, Givenchy and Italy's Valentino.

Loss Leader
Haute couture operates at a loss.  The expenses incurred by each designer are substantially higher than their collection's sales revenue.  However, haute couture is a huge advertising strategy for a brand.  Sales of perfume, cosmetics, accessories and ready-to-wear more than compensate for the deficit.

Couture by Numbers
50: people needed to make one gown.
100: hours minimum to create a garment.
1000: hours to create an embroidered gown.
400,000: euros, the cost of Kim Kardashian's couture Givenchy gown for her wedding to Kanye West!  

See the full couture show schedule here and keep up to date with the all the looks straight from the runway here

To read Katherine's article in full click here

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