Is there really a difference between garments created by haute couture fashion houses and other designers?
Yes, there is. Don’t worry, we’ll get into it right now.
Haute couture is considered to be the highest level of garment design and craftsmanship. It is associated with custom, exclusive pieces. Each item is designed and crafted by a skilled team of artisans. As you may have guessed, these couture houses are the pinnacle of the fashion industry.
What Makes a Garment Luxurious
Garments created in these haute couture fashion houses are known for their one-of-a-kind design, high-quality fabrics (and ornamentation), attention-to-detail, and custom fit. In fact, there is an actually an organization that sets the standards for these fashion houses that wish to be considered part of haute couture. Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture legally has the term “haute couture” protected to ensure these standards are kept. Of course, this only adds to the exclusivity of this level of fashion.
- Quality. High-quality materials and custom creation. The fabrics used are often of superior quality and/or unique textiles. Therefore, the production process is usually more time-consuming and labor-intensive.
- Design. Luxury products created by design houses that use their creativity and expert skills to produce something really special and well-made. In addition, the couture clothing is highly coveted by fashion enthusiasts, celebrities and collectors.
- Branding. Fashion brands are known for being exclusive and prestigious. In addition the garments, there is a general brand image that is associated with a couture business. It is exactly why logos are so welcome on many garments and custom clothing.
- Attention to Detail. When it comes to the couture industry, designers turn to more traditional craftsmanship techniques such as couture sewing, hand-stitching, embroidery, and other processes involving a high level of skill. With these techniques, each garment bring with it a sense of heritage and authenticity.
- Exclusivity. Couture clothing and accessories are often produced in limited quantities or as one-of-a-kind. Similar to a Birkin bag, there often is a special VIP list for these items.
A Peek at a Few Grand Couturiers
First, you may be wondering what a ‘grand couturier’ is. They are members of the Chambre Syndical de la Haute Couture; this part of Federation de la Haute Couture. In addition, there are also ‘guests’ that are working towards their status as actual members; a guest can possibly attain membership after two years.
If you love fashion, you will most likely be familiar with many of these couture designers. Why we are not going to list them all, here are a few:
- Christian Dior
- Coco Chanel
- Maison Rabih Kayrouz
- Franck Sorbier
- Schiaparelli Haute Couture
Why Haute Couture Fashion Houses are Important
There are many reasons why it’s important to have a set of standards for haute couture fashion. While we appreciate all levels of fashion, it is important to differentiate them to protect the artistic integrity of these houses.
- Innovation. When you think of haute couture, it is okay to consider this style that you may not be able to walk down the street in. This type of clothing was not created with consideration to the commercial market. In fact, they purposely tend to choose fabric, lines, and ornamentation that cannot be mass produced. Thus, it allows designers to use unusual fabrics (or mediums) and innovative techniques.
- Artisanship. Tailors and seamstresses already ‘wow’ us with their skills and talent. And when it comes to unique haute couture designs, you can only imagine the skillset needed. Their impeccable craftsmanship ensures every detail is calculated and executed properly. Then, there is the extra step of the perfect fit (once constructed).
- Trendsetting. All designers and fashion makers look to haute couture for inspiration. From these innovative styles, future designs are born; those that may be able to be outfitted to suit a more public market. (It kind of reminds you of Miranda’s cerulean monologue in The Devil Wears Prada, right? You get the idea.)
Haute Couture Today
With this level of exclusivity (and price tag), it is not surprising to learn that haute couture has and will always have a special buyer in mind. Let’s take a look at some typical private clients.
It is no surprise that royal family members are known for the patronage towards this level of design houses. And it is no surprises that haute couture designers love providing royal families access to their original designs. Often, princesses and queens are known for being stylish women. While not obtainable, the public looks to them to see what they are wearing next. Just think about how Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle’s wedding gown choices inspired brides across the world (and fashion designers).
Celebrities and other members of high-society have couture designers wanted to dress them. The feeling is mutual as this group is also clamoring for these exclusive garments. What better way to stand out or make a statement than with an innovative, haute couture piece.
Avant-garde items are especially coveted by collectors. With a love for wearable art, they see the value and significance in these special garments. They are certainly an investment that holds great meaning to these individuals.
In today’s fashion industry, you will also find other style enthusiasts and influencers donning haute couture clothing. The fortunate ones, of course! It isn’t easy to make these connections. However when you do, we can only imagine how it must feel to attend the next fashion event wearing a custom piece. What better way to say you’ve made it in the fashion industry.
The Future of Couture Fashion
The fashion industry continues to look at sustainability and ways to address additional ethical concerns. This does not have to mean the end of couture fashion. It is simply an additional challenge and/or inspiration to look for new textiles that are ethically sourced.
What’s beautiful about haute couture is that it is that perfect mix of innovative designs and design innovation. The standards set are certainly historically rooted; they also have adapted with today’s industry regulations. Fashion house teams provide the space for these workers to create, perfect their skills and share them with others. When garment manufacturing has embraced mass production, there is still a place for custom-fitted clothing.