IS HAUTE COUTURE DEAD? by Candace Turner

? QUESTION? :  Is Haute Couture a “dying art” as we have all heard in the latest buzz circling the recently released collections of Spring 2016 Couture?

For those initially intrigued by fashion, this question explores the continually expanding and transparency of fashion industry that all forms of media have taken in extending the magnifying glass to try to interpret the fashion industry in recent years. With globalization coinciding in social medias, movies such as The Devil wear Prada, the internets as a whole, and with the online education explosion-we are continuing to explore whether is fashion is an art form, separate entity, or are they casually linked?

What do you think ? Has Fashion been officially pronounced dead as we know it/Pierre Cardin suggests here?

In my opinion and with my research and industry experience, conglomerates such as LVMH and Puig now have the main stage for setting the pace of fashion including the spectacle that is Haute Couture. Today I ponder the difference of the importance of modern day Ready to Wear women’s clothing compared to Couture collections.

In recent years, I have seen Haute Couture lines break more barriers than ever- from buttoned up suiting with intricate detailing to deconstructed to almost a kitsch aesthetic as the recent Maison Margiela collections provokes. I muse on here on Fashion & Fine Art: Are we in the Dadaist movement of fashion now where readymade is the new handmade or is the attention to detail the same as tradition while just the execution of couture has shifted?

The term ‘Haute Couture’ or ‘Couture’ term is definitely overused/oversaturated. I know that many people aren’t sure of what the definition is. The word “couture” especially is used often in commercial advertisements as well as within the emerging fashion designer community I’ve noticed.

To clarify, the concrete term ‘haute couture’ is actually protected by law in France by the Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie de Paris. In ordered to use this term, all fashion houses deemed as such must follow these rules:

  • Designing for private clients for personalized attention to overall composition in relation to the subject that is solidified with one or more fittings.
  • Have a workshop in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
  • By presenting a collection to the media each season with at least 35 ensembles with day as well as eveningwear.

CURRENT ANSWER: Even though some fashion houses have created more streamlined and balanced haute couture collections in recent years (instead of more traditional superfluous frocks), these haute couture collections influence what the workshops make for the ready to wear collections depending on the response from the public to the designer’s further creative direction.

The truth is that the ready to wear collections created by the luxury brands are often left in the dust because it understandably takes a couple of months for a brand such as Chanel or Givenchy (champagne gown by Givenchy pictured below) to get to the point of being able to manufacture similar, but more understated versions of the original haute couture look.

In contrast, I want to also comment on a coinciding current issue pressuring the luxury fashion industry: by understanding why haute couture is an important part of fashion still is how these highly specialized luxury houses that are held in almost a sacred degree by Parisians and Europe as whole – from the designers to the artisans that sew, cobble, and metalwork these products with painstaking and meticulous attention to detail are often imitated but never duplicated.

The way it works now is that some companies such as Zara and H &M see the media from these exquisite designers once they are announced to the world on the runway and from that moment, these ‘fast fashion’ companies immediately hit the ground running by producing unprecedented volumes of similar styles and products that mirror the original trends set by designers such as Elie Saab or Christian Dior while the amount of time and energy it takes to take the illusion/ dream of a haute couture wardrobe/life and make the ready to wear understandably takes some time to produce. These RTW collections will eventually be available in boutiques but these trends are never accessed as quickly as say, you could get at Forever 21. In fact, it is good to note that the couture pieces almost never make it to stores be sold to the general public.

Haute Couture is the dream and Ready to Wear is the current modernization of luxury for the woman of all facets that not only dreams but does as well. This is why Haute Couture will never die and is a vital aspect to the fashion world.


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