Friday, May 4, 2007
The Haute in Couture
This falls into the category of I had no idea! This year a mere ten designers still qualify as purveyors of haute couture according to this WSJ story (subscription required).
"The term "haute couture" is protected under law by the French Ministry of Industry, and only those designated by the Chamber as couturiers can use the term -- which translates loosely as "high fashion," though the word couture technically means "sewing." (The legal protection does not extend to the use of the word couture alone.)"
"…the haute couture tradition dates to Charles Frederick Worth, a 19th-century Englishman-turned-Parisian who showed his ideas on live models and enjoyed the patronage of Napoleon III. In 1868, the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture was created to enforce rules involving fabrics, numbers of employees, and numbers of designs for day and evening wear. This was so strict and costly that only the best of the best could qualify. By the mid-20th century, more than 100 haute couture houses competed earnestly for well-heeled clientele by following the stringent set of rules: sewing by hand, with employees who are French, in ateliers that are French, in France."
So, just in case you thought otherwise, Juicy Couture isn't really couture! :)