Thursday, November 19, 2009

what is haute couture?

earlier this year...i got a chance to see the yves st laurent exhibit at the de young museum in san francisco...actually i went three was THAT spectacular...

the de young museum was fortunate to have the only u.s. showing of the yves st laurent retrospective...the exhibition featured nearly 130 of the designer's works from 1962 to 2002...

can you imagine?? nearly 130 outfits (complete with stunning accessories and shoes) were featured, many of which were haute couture worn by well-known icons, such as nan kempner and catherine deneuve...

an explanation of haute couture was featured as part of the exhibit - i found it informative and thought you might also...

In France, the term haute couture is protected by law and is defined by the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris. 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. The criteria for haute couture were established in 1945 and updated in 1992.

To earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term haute couture in its advertising and any other way, members of the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris must follow these rules:

-Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
-Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
-Each season (i.e., twice a year), present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.

The term haute couture may have been misused by ready-to-wear brands since the late 1980s, so that its true meaning may have become blurred with that of prêt-à-porter (the French term for ready-to-wear fashion) in the public perception. Every haute couture house also markets prêt-à-porter collections, which typically deliver a higher return on investment than their custom clothing. In fact, much of the haute couture displayed at fashion shows today is rarely sold; it is created to enhance the prestige of the house. Falling revenues have forced a few couture houses to abandon their less profitable couture division and concentrate solely on the less prestigious prêt-à-porter.

Photo: Marina Schiano in Evening Gown. Fall-Winter 1970. © The Estate of Jeanloup Sieff

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