You may have heard thousands of times how someone praises Haute Couture, those hyper exclusive garments that are only available to the most privileged.
However, do you really know what the concept of Haute Couture refers to?
Maybe you think that any refined garment made by a prestigious designer is part of this type of fashion but nothing could be more untrue. Haute Couture has its own standards that make it the very essence of luxury and exclusivity.
Literally Haute Couture, since the concept is French, refers to the high tailoring of garments.
The term comes up in the Parisian workshops of Charles Frederick Worth, in the middle of 19th century. He became the first artist in Haute Couture as we know today. This dressmaker, who although of English origin developed his entire career in France, was also a pioneer in something important in this sector: presenting his collections with models walking, that is, performing runways in famous spaces in the French capital. Thereafter, the city was increasingly filled up with small shops related to sewing (embroiderers, shoe and glove makers, hatters, etc.).
The Haute Couture “club” is very restrictive and anyone cannot belong to it. In fact, in France, the Haute Couture is included in the law and protected by it
The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (Haute Couture Union Chamber) It is the commission that is in charge of regulating and deciding which fashion brands are truly part of Haute Couture.
What are the requirements?
- Present a collection of at least fifty original designs to the public every fashion season
- Clothing must be completely handmade, tailor made and with valuable and original fabrics. The assistance of the sewing machine must be anecdotal and they must have at least twenty staff members full-time (the so-called petites-mains).
- Have at least two workshop in Paris
- Outfits must be designed made-to-order for private client this customer, the first buyer, can decide if the garment can be reproduced and ordered by new buyers, or on the contrary, that it remains its own and unique.
- The dressmaker who begins the work of a garment is the one who must finish it. This covers from the initial sketch to the catwalk.
- It has to be approved by the Federation.
All of this is especially required to ensure that Paris continues to be the fashion capital of the world.
That is why although sometimes we hear that we are dealing with haute couture garments, in general these will not be part of it. Haute couture garments are usually used on very specific catwalks, exhibitions and only in some cases are they for sale. Either way, it is difficult to establish a real value for such respected garments and for this reason it is often said that they are priceless.
Who are the members of true Haute Couture?
The list of these members is not permanent but is updated every year. Originally, the main members of the club were some such as Cristóbal Balenciaga, Coco Chanel, Christian Lacroix or Emilio Pucci.
In addition to Balenciaga, only five other Spanish names have ever been considered throughout their history as members of Haute Couture. These are Paco Rabanne, Pertegaz and Josep Font, Antonio Castillo and Raphaël.
Currently in Spain we have a very important firm that is gaining more and more strength: Yolancris. This has already been tested to belong to the most famous club in Paris, although it is still waiting to pass some filters. Shakira, Lady Gaga or Rosalía are some of the celebrities who have had the honor to wear their designs
The official 2020 list is made up of the following fashion houses:
- Maison Rabih Kayrouz
- Giambattista Valli
- Alexis Mabille
- Stéphane Rolland
- Julien Fournié
- Alexandre Vauthier
- Maison Margiela
- Franck Sorbier
- Bouchra Jarra
- Jean Paul Gaultier
Other famous fashion brands are allowed to be part of Paris fashion week and present their designs as long as this is not done on the official calendar and, of course, never under the Haute Couture name.
They are called guest members, young and foreign brands that work outside of Paris such as Ralph & Russo, Antonio Grimaldi, Azzaro Couture, Georges Hobeika, Iris Van Herpen, Ulyana Sergeenko, Ronald Van Der Kemp, Zuhair Murad, Julie de Libran, Guo Pei, Aganovich, Aelis, Rahul Mishra, Xuan e Imane Ayissi, Elie Saab, Valentino, Giorgio Armani Privé and Viktor & Rolf.
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