The History of Haute Couture

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With Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris coming to a close tomorrow, I found it only fitting to explore the history of haute couture. The term “haute couture” was used for the first time in 1908 and then in 1945 was defined by Chambre syndicale de la haute couture. For a line to be considered as part of this exclusive and avant-garde branch of the fashion industry, the line has to meet a certain criteria according to the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture. The 3 requirements are:

  • Designs must be made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings
  • Each atelier must have at least 20 members of staff
  • Each season, the couture house must present a collection of at least 35 runs with both daytime and evening wear to the Paris press.

Today there are only about a dozen fashion houses who design collections such as these, surely due to the cost of production as well as the limited amount of 1 percenters who will purchase the items from the haute couture lines. According to http://www.fashion-era.com the manual labour needed to produce a garment takes between 100-150 hours (4-6.25 full days) for a suit and up to 1000 hours (41 full days) for an embellished evening dress! Once the garments are produced their price points will range anywhere from £10,000 to £50,000. Which in American dollars is roughly $11,200 to $56,400. We are talking about some serious manual labor and even more serious amounts of money to spend. But look at these garments? So worth it. They are truly one of a kind, breathtakingly beautiful works of art. ~sigh~

Elie Saab

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Atelier Versace

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Chanel

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Photos courtesy of Vogue Paris‘ website and to see full coverage of every haute couture show this season be sure to visit their website. http://en.vogue.fr/fashion-week

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