EVERYTHING YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HAUTE COUTURE
We all have seen celebrities wearing those beautiful dresses on red carpets, we all have been amazed by the intricacies of the garments we see in the met gala. It's all magic of haute couture. Haute couture unlike ready to wear is client-specific and only one of each design exists.
Made with full attention to detail and neatness these garments are made for a private client in 3 fittings and are usually rented to celebrities to walk down the red carpet. You must have noticed certain dresses worn by two celebrities on different occasions that must give you an idea that those garments are rented and not fully owned.
WHAT IS HAUTE COUTURE?
Haute means high fashion and Couture means dressmaking, so Haute couture is the most high fashion and most expensive segment of the fashion industry. Each garment is made with absolute accuracy and each garment takes almost 100 to 400 hours to make.
The best quality of the material is used in these designs and each design is exclusive and never repeated.
WHO ARE COUTURIER/COUTURIERE?
The designers who create these haute couture designs are known as Couturier or Couturiere (feminine), Usually, these designers own separate labels for Couture and Ready to wear.
WHO CAN BE A COUTURIER?
Couture is usually a misused term, while haute couture means high fashion dressmaking, to be a couturier you must have a set of qualities and must follow certain rules.
When the interest in haute couture grew among designers a federation was established in 1868 LA CHAMBRE SYNDICALE DE LA HAUTE COUTURE, members of which are considered official Couturier. Membership of this federation is limited and they have a set of rules that are needed to be followed to be a couturier. Currently, there are 15 official members including Dior and Chanel, seven corespondent members like Georgio Armani and Valentino, and 15 guest members including Guo Pei and Rahul Mishra. Being french is not part of the rules while Some of the rules are
1. Must show 2 collections of at least 50 garments including day and evening wear each year
2. Must have at least 20 technical staff in at least one ATELIER (workshop).
A similar organization is also established in Italy called Camera Nazionale dell' Alta Moda Italiana.
WHY IS HAUTE COUTURE EXPENSIVE?
So why is it so expensive, why can't it be affordable to the common man?
The whole point of Haute couture is to not be bounded by the worries of the budget. Top-quality fabrics and materials along with the most intricate surface techniques and fabric manipulation are done by the topmost craftsmen and then hand-stitched by some of the best dressmakers available in the market. In short BEST is ensured in all aspects of one dressmaking it is most expensive too.
WHY IS HAUTE COUTURE IMPORTANT?
Haute couture is the link between authentic traditional crafts and luxury. Being so detail-oriented the traditional crafts, embroidery fabric manipulation, and surface treatments are done in the best way by the best craftsmen out there, making it the most authentic and original form of craft. Being so expensive it is not available for everyone but people who can afford it are holding possession of authentic craft which helps the original artform to survive more.
From the business point of view, Haute couture collections are a marketing tool to showcase your best work to the world and establish your brand aesthetic and be as creative and showcase exquisite craft without being restricted by the budget.
This also gives the designer more creative freedom as they don't have to worry about customer behavior because it is for a single client.
HAUTE COUTURE V/S AVANT GARDE
Haute couture is usually confused with the term Avant-garde. But they are not the same, Haute couture as discussed above is high fashion dressmaking while Avant-garde is experimental or highly unusual fashion. Both the terms hold a common factor that is creative freedom but it's not the same in both, In the case of haute couture creative freedom is to use any material or techniques without thinking about budget while in Avantgarde complete creative freedom is there, you can go as outrageous as you want without thinking about is it conventional to wear?
Another reason why both these terms are confused is that both Haute Couture and Avant-garde are tools of marketing but Avant-garde is more about designers expressing themselves while Haute couture is still being targeted for a customer even if it's just for one person.
HAUTE COUTURE V/S READY TO WEAR
Haute couture and Ready to wear are two very different segments of the fashion industry that target different audiences and customers. Ready to wear as the name suggests is the category of apparel that is ready to be worn by the public and is mass-produced also often referred to as OFF THE RACK, but Ready to wear as a category is further divided into market segments of the different customer based on the economic background of the consumer segment, although the quality is not compromised by many reputed brands profit is the main target too so you won't be getting the best fine cotton present out and you t-shirts won't be stitched by the best dressmaker out there.
But in the case of Haute couture the restriction of the budget is not there and because one garment takes avg of 100 to 400 hours to make is the reason that it's not mass-produced and is made for a private client at a time.
HAUTE COUTURE V/S COUTURE
These two words are often used interchangeably but they are not the same. And Using the term Haute couture without being a member of the Chambre Syndicale is considered very unprofessional in the fashion industry. Although Haute couture means high fashion dressmaking so anyone who makes high fashion expensive clothes should be able to use this term that's not the case, to be able to use the term Haute couture you need to be a member of the Chambre Syndicale, even the guest members are granted the permission to use term HAUTE COUTURE under certain conditions.
So next time you see a designer use the term COUTURE, don't confuse it with the term HAUTE COUTURE. The Chambre Syndicale holds Paris fashion week 2 times a year in which guest designers are invited to showcase their designs but even they are bound to use the term Couture until they become a member of the Chambre Syndicale.
HAUTE COUTURE AS A CAREER OPTION
Now the biggest question is how haute couture is a career option. So being brutally honest you can't build a career off of haute couture alone because it doesn't make as much profit as ready-to-wear, and as of today there are only around 4000 customers left for the Haute couture segment among whom only 200 are regular customers. All the couturiers generally have separate ready-to-wear labels going on to earn profit. Haute couture is a marketing tool used by designers but in today's time when Crafts are almost dying and machinery is taking over the industry and talented craftsmen are losing their craft, haute couture can help preserve it all. The major profit is made by LICENSING or other affordable products like perfumes, and accessories like handbags or watches which are presented as part of the collection and then are made available for the masses later on.
Haute couture brings publicity and visibility for the brand and it also allows you to design more creative garments that are the perfect mixture of craft, advancement, and aesthetics. Because you get to design your fantasy designs without thinking about the expense of it or thinking about whether people will like them or not makes the experience of designing more magical and enchanted.