Anyone who loves fashion knows about haute couture. If it wasn’t for the efforts of the designers back in history, the fashion world would be very different from the way we know it today. Of course if you don’t know about haute couture’s roots, you’ll enjoy this history lesson about fashions, designs, Paris, and everything it encompasses.
In case you weren’t aware, the term Haute Couture, is French and translates to high dressmaking or high sewing. In today’s terms, many people refer to haute couture when talking about clothes that are considered high fashion and custom-fitted. The significance of haute couture is so important to the industry that the term is actually protected by law and can only be used by those that meet very strict standards.
Up until the 1850s in France, the majority of people made their own clothes. There were no fancy sewing machines or any other devices to speed up the process. However, that soon changed with the efforts of dressmaker Charles Frederick Worth and inventor Isaac Singer. After Singer created the first continuous stitch sewing machine, Charles Frederick Worth began working to create custom-fitted clothing. Not only did this allow people - especially women - to get the outfits they wanted without putting in the labor, but they could snag the latest fashions that normally were not available to them. With trade routes expanding, customers were introduced to a variety of new materials, jewelry, accessories, and designers. This paved the way for an explosion of fashion and creativity. In order to spread the word quickly about the latest collections, small fashion dolls were created and served as the first fashion models. These dolls would then be carried to other towns, where customers could see first-hand what styles were popular and order their own outfit.
Because of his contribution to fashion in Paris, Charles Frederick Worth is known as the father of haute couture. He took his craft seriously and made special designs that catered to each of his clients. Additionally, Worth took things further by putting together a portfolio of his designs and hiring human models to show off the clothes to clients, who would then select the model, outfit, fabric, and colors that they wanted. Others quickly followed Worth’s example and as a result, fashion houses were created. Examples of popular fashion houses include Chanel, Balenciaga, Dior, and Fortuny, to name a few.
Once haute couture and its ready-to-wear designs gained momentum, it never slowed down, which paved the way for the majority of famous clothing designers and fashion houses that still exist to this day. The concept of allowing the consumer to decide what they want by choosing from collections created by designers is one that has made the fashion industry a force to be reckoned with for many years. It doesn’t get any bigger than haute couture and because of the accomplishments of Singer and Worth, Paris is and always will be the fashion epicenter of the world.
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