Everything You Need To Know About Haute-Couture

What does the term haute couture mean to you? Most of you must know that haute couture translated literally, means high dressmaking (couture is French for dressmaking, while haute means high).
But that’s not all to it. So, get ready to explore this fashionable term and become a little of a fashion expert.

Fashion and Paris is a big love story!

Haute couture is fashion at its most refined, it is a symbol of French luxury. It refers to custom handmade garments which are exquisite creations imagined by the world’s leading designers and made from high quality, expensive, unusual fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail, crafted by a team of most-skilled artisans and craftsmen.

It’s no surprise that when it comes to fashion, France is a powerhouse.
Did you know the term Haute Couture (External link) is a legal term in France and for any collection to carry the label one has to pass a series of criteria as follows, which was created in 1945?

• design made-to-order for private clients
• have an atelier (workshop) in Paris that employs 20 full-time staff members and at least 20 full-time technical people
• present a collection of at least 25 original designs twice a year (January & July) at the Paris Couture Week

Though the term Haute Couture is synonymous with the French culture, it may come as a surprise that it was actually an Englishman named Charles Frederick Worth who in 1858 founded the first true Couture House at number 7, rue de la Paix in Paris.

Portrait of Charles Frederick Worth aged 30 PC-wikipedia
Charles Frederick Worth © Wikipedia

The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (External link) , the most important fashion organization in France, is responsible for regulating the haute couture industry in Paris. It seeks to promote French fashion culture, where Haute Couture contributes to bolstering Paris in its role as worldwide fashion capital.

Haute couture is a highly protected term. Not any designer can call themselves a couture designer. There are only 14 designers who bear the label of haute couture. Christian Dior, Chanel, Ellie Saab and Versace are some of the big names who produce haute couture.

‘Couture’ in recent times has become a term carried by several fashion brands and which may not necessarily belong to the label “Haute Couture”. It can be seen in the example of casual-wear brand Juicy Couture. Sweatpants are decidedly a long way away from the likes of Chanel and Givenchy so how can they label themselves ‘couture’ at all?
The word ‘couture’ has become part of the pop culture. It’s been taken by nearly every company on the planet.

Haute Couture fashion shows are like theatre! From the garments to the models to the staging to the music…. all these important components come together to create a moment.

At the Paris Haute Couture Week 2019, Chanel recreated Parisian streets as a backdrop to showcase for their iconic designs at the flamboyant Palais Garnier Opera.

One of the most sought-after couture fashion shows, Paris Haute Couture Week is a lavish affair, mostly attended by the porte-monnaie sur pattes, or ‘walking purses’. For many of these buyers it is an investment, a form of art collection.

Madelaine-Petsch-2019-Met-Gala
Madelaine Petsch wearing Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2019 Couture at the MET Gala 2019 © Dia Dipasupil / Filmmagic

Every year Haute Couture exhibitions or events are held at some of the most famous and extravagant museums and exquisite locations across the world like the Palais de la Porte Dorée, Palais Galleria and The Musée Yves Saint-Laurent in Paris, The Museum of Decorative Arts in Bordeaux, the Victoria and Albert museum in London and the national museum of Scotland in Edinburg.

A few Parisian museums and art galleries can also host or arrange tours related to fashion within their institutions. Between legendary figures and Couture designers, these exhibits are astonishing!

The exhibitions are magical, theatrical, historical and cinematographic highlighting the couturiers creative process, some previously unseen pieces as well as some extraordinary vintage designs.

For the fashion aficionados from around the world, one can opt for private shopping tours in Paris with your very own personal shopper.

Within the heart of the Triangle d’Or (Golden Triangle) in Paris, is where you will find the finest Haute Couture shops in the world.

So, on your next trip to the World’s Fashion Capital, take a stroll along the streets of Avenue Montaigne, Avenue George V, and Rue Francois 1er and immerse yourself in a world of luxury shopping in Paris!

On these three beautiful streets which form the shopping triangle, you will find the most prestigious designer clothing such as Dior, Chanel, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Balmain, Givenchy and more!