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What is Haute Couture

If The Fashion was born in Paris, then it celebrates its birthday at least twice a year: in late January and early July. The party lasts for five days and holds a proud French name «semaine d’haute couture», which can roughly be translated into the language of Shakespeare as “High Fashion Week”. Being the apotheosis of the six months of creation process, fashion shows “compete” in originality, sophistication and luxury. The list of designers of haute couture, accredited by the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture, reminds the short-list of the Nobel Prize nominees, and the number of requirements for those wishing to get on this list can scare even the most ambitious.

The concept of haute couture (/ˌoʊt kuːˈtʊər/) is inseparable from France as red wine, morning croissants and the Eiffel Tower. Ironically, its founder, however, is a native of Albion, who arrived to Paris in the middle of XIXth century, and later opened his own fashion house. Creating collections of dresses, Charles Frederick Worth was only guided by his imagination and taste, rather than making clothes to order, as it was done before him. Freedom of client’s choice was limited to colors and fabrics. The profession of a modiste from practical craftsmanship transformed into a creative art.

The revolutionary concept of “haute couture” in many respects was promoted by the image of Paris as a “showcase of Europe” that was created in the fifties of the XIXth century. The first beauties of European imperial courts, which included the wife of Napoleon III – Empress Eugenie and a trendsetter, who drove mad more than one monarch, Elizabeth of Austria, sparkled at the balls exclusively in dresses signed by Mr. Worth.

Being the very quintessential of Parisian chic and elegance haute couture combines the perfectly adjusted to a millimeter cut, the most expensive fabrics and materials with many hours of manual work. It is a whole philosophy and a culture of clothing for a narrow circle of the chosen ones, not exceeding several hundred clients around the world. The names of haute couture designers are familiar even to people far from the fashion world: they include such well-known geniuses like Yves Sain Laurent, Peirre Cardin, Thierry Mugler, Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Lacroix, Jean-Paul Gaultier. Style of each one is unique, and their work sometimes borders with pure art. Haute couture is a tale of ethereal lace, flowing chiffon, shiny satin, diaphanous silk and delicate velvet, it allows us to dream about the absolute inaccessible beauty and eternally young romance.

Time changes and with it evolves the concept of haute couture. “High Fashion” transformed into a vector indicating the direction of fashion in general and commercial lines of prêt-à-porter in particular. It allows designers to experiment with new techniques and materials, maintaining the exclusivity of models. Still remaining the privilege of rich, couture garments become more realistic: in addition to pure aesthetics, they become practical. Now this dress may not just hang on a rack to be admired from time to time, but also can be put on for special occasions and not even once. And the Paris couture scene is now reigned by new kings of high fashion, who are replacing the masters of the last century – they are young, talented and ambitious, they are the “new wave”. The future of haute couture is in their hands. And our site is about them.