Haute couture, a term permanently fixed in the fashion dictionary. Where Haute means “high” or “elegant” and Couture means “sewing” in French.

Set up in Paris by English couturier Charles Frederick Worth, the first haute couture house was established in 1858  as an exclusive luxury fashion line for the upper-class woman. This has since evolved into a prestigious syndicate, where to be to be called a haute couture house, a business must belong to the Syndical Chamber for Haute Couture in Paris, which is regulated by the French Department of Industry.

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 Haute Couture| Studio Production

As the term  ‘fashion designer’ came to light in lieu of traditional dressmaker, designers were required to train and earn the right to label themselves a couture house according to certain specifications. Establishing boundaries between traditional design and haute couture : Le Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture was first established as the safeguard of high-fashion.

With more than hundred years of evolution, members of the exclusive syndicate must employ 15 or more people and present their collections twice a year. Each presentation must include at least 35 separate outfits for day and eveningwear.

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Embroidery | Chanel S/S 2015 | Ralph & Russo S/S 2016

The S/S couture 2016 showcased a whimsical narrative of the organic world, wood chips were used as beading, whilst paillettes and 3-D frills were among the exquisite techniques adopted. The delicate details were constructed from recycled paper and organic woven yarn, offering a sustainable twist. (Vogue, 2016)
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Spring Summer Couture 2016 | Chanel Runway Closing

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Spring Summer Haute Couture 2016 | Chanel

Fine and intricate insect artisan in the form of feathered bees, bugs and dragonflies appeared attached to the opulent garments. Presenting a glimpse of the natural world attached to the most non-environmentally impactful branch of the garment industry.

The infinite hours of work and specialised handicraft applied to each garment make it an investment, destined to last a lifetime.
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Spring Summer Couture 2016 | Chanel Bug Pouch

Rejuvenating the original Dior trademark silhouette with a contemporary twist, French House Christian Dior debuted embroidery dexterity in this year’s couture presentation.

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Spring Summer 2016 Couture | Christian Dior dior1Spring Summer 2016 Couture | Christian Dior Sleeve Details

As an antithesis of fast fashion’s notorious processes and disposability, the opulent positioning of haute couture allows us to appreciate skilled craftsmanship and re-examine the value of contemporary fashion.

Written by Elaine Chau

Edited by Christina Wright

References

CHANEL NEWS (2016) BEES HAUTE COUTURE COLLECTION (Online) Available at http://chanel-news.chanel.com/en/home/2016/01/bees-haute-couture-collection.html [Accessed 30/6/16]

COUTURENOTEBOOK (2012) MAISON LESAGE ATELIER-REALIZING DREAMS (Online) Available at https://couturenotebook.com/2012/11/17/maison-lesage-atelier/ [Accessed 30/6/16]

ELUXE MAGAZINE (2014) TIMELINE: THE HISTORY OF HAUTE COUTURE (Online) Available at http://eluxemagazine.com/magazine/the-history-of-haute-couture/ [Accessed 30/6/16]

HARPERSBAZAAR (2014) THE HISTORY OF HAUTE COUTURE (Online) Available at http://www.harpersbazaar.co.uk/fashion/fashion-news/news/a31123/the-history-of-haute-couture/ [Accessed 30/6/16]

VOGUE (2016) CHANEL SPRING/SUMMER 2016 | COUTURE (Online) Available at http://www.vogue.co.uk/fashion/spring-summer-2016/couture/chanel [Accessed 30/6/16]