Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Haute Couture as an art form

"Haute Couture" or high fashion often called dead. Is that true?
The number of fashion houses, creating "haute couture" collections in past few years starts disappearing. But this process had begun much earlier. With changes in the society changing high fashion as well. Despite the problems it has a chance to survive in  21st century, thanks to new younger customers from Russia and Asia

Words game

What exactly a "haute couture" or "high fashion" is? Russian and Western media of "high fashion" or "haute couture" often referred to anything: the fashion week pret-a-porter (ready-made clothing), and a collection of self-proclaimed "fashion designer." "Couture" for promotional purposes it is hand-finishing even the most elementary one. However between ready-to-wear (prêt-à-porter = ready-made clothes, fr.) (even  "luxury" class) and high fashion is a big difference. Ready-to-wear - it's massive clothing made according to standard patterns and usually in limited quantities, put for sale in brand or multi-brand boutiques. While Couture involves hand-sewing dress / outfit to individual measures for a specific home fashions client's. In other words, high fashion - fashion is not for everyone, but only for a very narrow circle of the elect people who are able to pay a very high price for a one-of-a-kind dress made by their standards. Prices also vary considerably: costume out of line "pret-a-porter de luxe" can cost up to $ 5,000, and the dress of "haute couture" - up to $ 100,000 - you can feel the difference. Rumors are that some of the exclusive creations of houses "Christian Dior" and "Valentino" reach a price of 200,000 dollars ...

Monopoly of label "High Fashion" has only France. Where there is a syndicate of Paris Haute Couture (Chambre Cyndicale de la Couture Parisienne), part of the Federation of Haute couture, ready-to-wear and fashion creators (La Fédération française de la couture, du prêt -à-porter des couturiers et des créateurs de mode). "Appeal" or belonging to the House of Haute couture is protected by law in France. List of houses having this "appeal", drawn up by a special commission of the Ministry of Industry of France. Only the House of Haute Couture, meeting all the requirements and based in France, can become members of the Syndicate of High Fashion. Foreign fashion designers, even such as Valentino or recently entered into this narrow range Valentin Yudashkin, can only be corresponding members of the Syndicate.

Paris Haute Couture Syndicate was established in 1868 by President Today Syndicate of High Fashion and High Fashion Federation and pret-a-porter is Didier Gryumbah. The French Federation of Haute couture and pret-a-porter was created in 1973. Which is the supreme executive member of all those chambers. Also included in the Federation of the Syndicate of men's fashion and combines all  brands, working in of men's fashion field. The members of the Syndicate or the Chamber of Trade Union High Fashion High Fashion Houses are usually companies engaged in tailoring of same class made to order.

High Fashion History - Social History of France

High fashion in the way as we know it, was born at the end of the XIX-th century. The first fashion designer in the modern sense was an Englishman Charles Frederick Worth who opened his fashion house in Paris in 1858. He was the first fashion designer who began to dictate to  customers his vision of fashion. He is the first who introduced fashion shows on live models. He aslo abandoned common practice of sending to customers rag dolls dressed in the proposed mini-dress. As a specialist in ball gowns, TX did not hesitate to assign a very high price. Fashion designers of that time until the first world war wore only an aristocracy. And if before aristocrats determined fashion, as well as  for “fashion designers”, then after Worth stare doing at fashion designers.

Clothing has long been in France (and in Europe) as a hallmark of class, rank and status in the social hierarchy. There were laws that forbade for lower social strata wear the clothes of a particular tissue or even a particular color. During the French Revolution was issued a decree that allowed to all citizens to wear anything they want.

In the early twentieth century sewing craft became an independent profession. This position was regulated by ministerial order which determined that fashion houses should make custom made cloths to order and have twenty employees minimum in a company. It has to be  presented twice a year, with at least 75 models on live mannequins ( spring-summer and autumn-winter collections) . In 1900 in France was 20 fashion houses, in 1925 - 75, in 1937 - already 29. From 1946 to 1967. number of fashion houses declined from 106 to 19.

Craft traditions

High fashion it's unique and one-of-a-kind things, and creation of it takes up to 150 hours or more, depending on a design and customer feedback. The uniqueness of things "haute couture" is also in use of very expensive high-end artisans who knows how to work with lace, pleating, ornaments made of feathers, buttons, flowers, jewelry, gloves and hats commissioned by fashion houses. Some time ago French high fashion house Chanel and Christian Dior bought several of these studios in order to keep their knowledge and experience required for high fashion and French fashion in general. For example, one of them is famous embroidery studio Lésage.

Chanel, Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2008

Many fans consider haute couture fashion an ultimate expression, even an art. And they're probably right. It’s enough to see like a dozen seamstresses hand embroidered dress item or treated specially imported from South Africa feathers for the next creation of "haute couture", to understand that high fashion - it's not just a whim of the rich. This is truly high art of sewing. Time-consuming, expensive and rare art for those who can afford it.

The Parisian house of high fashion have their ateliers where usually works 20 to 40 skilled seamstresses. In four home studio "Chanel", for example, employs more than 120 people. For Christian Lacroix employs 24 pairs of "small arms" as it’s called in the fashionable jargon for Jean-Paul Gaultier - 40. Newcomers among the houses of high fashion can afford to pay for work of only few people.
It seems that Couture is available today only for really rich people. Previously it was mainly the "old money" from Europe and America from aristocracy representatives. In the 1980s among the "haute couture" customers began to appear "Middle Eastern princess”, which is wives and daughters of the wealthy Saudi and Qatari oil sheiks. By the end of the decade  formed customer base of Parisian fashion houses. Against mass fashion High Fashion

Mass fashion VS High fashion

High fashion and designer fashion in suffers today in general from the ongoing fashion and turn it into a serious business. Once High fashion was the only possible view of fashion. But with advent of pret-a-porter or wearable clothing  which is more affordable big audience it takes to a position of "haute couture" shaken.
Thanks to a new technologies fresh and original ideas from catwalks almost instantly being copied, processed, and replicated thousands of low-cost networking trendy shops. "Fast fashion" from Zara, Mango, H & M and Topshop has a direct influence on modern fashion industry, including high fashion. The fact is that despite all exclusivity, which is so hungry for rich client fashion houses, many admirers of haute couture today, do not hesitate to combine precious things "haute couture" with a much more democratic jeans, for example. What was unimaginable just 15-20 years ago. As Valentino says in the documentary BBC "The Secret World of Haute Couture», in the early 1980s, when the house "Valentino" began to create their own collections of high fashion the number of output patterns during the runway reached 190. In the 1990s, it has been much more modest figure of 40 outputs. And recently that number has been revised by the French Syndicate of High Fashion downward - up to 25 to allow the few remaining houses of high fashion and young fashion designers coop with the prohibitive cost of "haute couture" collection. Times have changed.

In the 1950s and 1960s which was the "golden age" of high fashion, the life style of many f their clients didn’t’ allow them to dress at the store “next door”. Immediately after the Second World War in Paris took place up to 100 High Fashion shows during one, and number of employees in this business exceeded 46,000 people. Today the total number of people employed in the "haute couture" does not exceed 4,500.

Givenchy, Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2008

Number of clients who wears "haute couture" regularly rarely exceed a few hundred people around the world, and with the advent of "fast fashion" of democratization and clothing their ranks further thinned. New rich of United States, who made their fortune, for example, in Silicon Valley, are not interested in high fashion. This is  "new money", and they do not have same social "baggage" as old one. Social problems and more widening gap between rich and poor in the United States.

 May 2007, the British BBC documentary called "The Secret World of Haute Couture», where film creator had few months to seek consent of high fashion female fans to open their wardrobes for TV camera. Among few interviewed women were most of the representative of  "old money" were fairly mature age. Only one client from s "new money" has agreed to talk about her expensive clothes "haute couture" in front of camera. She was a young and energetic wife of American oil tycoon, mainly engaged in collecting donations for various charities. A young woman honestly confessed that  felt certain sense of guilt for spending money "just for clothes even beautiful one," But she  justified herself by wearing "haute couture" clothes for charity events


High fashion - from crisis to crisis

High fashion is not just going through hard times. In the 1970s, when Yves Saint Laurent introduced the fashion pret-a-porter, many predicted the end of high fashion. But High Fashion survived. In the early 1990s with fall of oil prices has been sharply reduced number of Arab clients, which for most part are targeted by "haute couture" homes. Then in 2002, "Yves Saint Laurent" been bought by French billionaire Francois Pinault (owner of the "Gucci"), fashion designer was forced to leave from there  due not being able to sell "haute couture" collections and by increasing the debt of a house. The new creative director of pret-a-porter line an american Tom Ford, being more as a talented manager, immediately came into conflict with the "old" orders YSL. After press conference where Yves Saint Laurent announced his retirement from high fashion, his close friend and partner Pierre Berge said that “Couture” died.

It was a serious crisis. In the next two years from the haute couture creation collections turned away several major Parisian houses. Among them are the "pillars" of Paris Haute Couture as Torrente, Balmain, Féraud, Carven, Jean-Louis Scherrer ... Givenchy and Ungaro temporary stopped Haute Couture shows. High fashion had to be rescued. Last one to get in to French Syndicate of High Fashion was Jean-Paul Gaultier in 1997. In 2002 got in young French designer Dominique Siro in 2005 - Adeline Andre and Franck Sorbier. Corresponding Members of syndicate were Valentino, Armani, Elie Saab, Martin Margiela. Have been simplified giant criteria for. The number od designs for a show has been reduced from 50 to 25, and reduced requirements for the number of employees studio.

However, since 2005 "haute couture" is on a rise along with industry of luxury. Although it’s a Couture shows who has the best performance in excess of sales growth in some luxury companies such as "Louis Vuitton". Only few years ago house "Givenchy" was barely alive renewed "haute couture" shows and announced that number of orders in 2007 increased by 30%. Similar order increase has experienced "Christian Lacroix" and "Jean-Paul Gaultier," and "Christian Dior" consistently sells up to 45 couture dresses right after show.

High fashion is dead. Long live the High fashion!

High fashion received a new breath thanks to rich people from East and Russia. General Director of "Chanel" Bruno Pavlovsky says that Parisian house "haute couture" customers now are not only Americans and Middle Eastern but also Europeans, Russians, Indians and Chinese. New Russian "Dior “ client, 17-year-old daughter of Russian millionaire, after one show ordered for herself 7 dresses! Rich “new Russians”  have become money spenders at Parisian show cases along with Arab oil sheiks. You can find at fashion portal new clients names such as Irina Abramovich, Yelena Lihach and Alexandra Melnichenko.

For a while creations of Italian designer Valentino been great successes among “haute couture” costumers - luxurious evening gowns and dresses from exclusive fabrics and expensive lace. In January 2008 he presented his last collection of haute couture in Paris. Will new "Valentino" house leadership continue creation of such collections, and how successful they will be only time can show.

    Valentino, the latest collection of Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2008

Meanwhile, high fashion outfits doesn’t bring enough profit in order for investors to cover expenses, which can be 2-3 million euros. Why to spend this much? Spectacular and often theatrical shows "haute couture" attracted a large media attention, and creates necessary image for a brand by associating it with luxury, glitz, glamor ... Fashion Haute Couture pulling ready-to-wear sales and fashion accessories - handbags, jewelry, cosmetics and fragrances with certain labels. Those accessories and cosmetics / perfumes brings to many Parisian houses more than 70% of all profits in order to justify an exorbitant cost of high fashion and shockingly expensive shows. One of the most successful in this (marketing) plan is a house of "Christian Dior." Christian Dior label famous world accessories are sold at an incredible rate due to their status as fashion must-have.
In 2005 Giorgio Armani surprised many fashion industry analysts by launching his line - Armani Privé. This idea seemed to be doomed from the start. But what if  "Versace" and "Ungaro" stops doing Haute Couture shows, then can step in Armani, who never done “haute couture” and made his carier on classic suits. However,  70-year-old designer said that dresses with $ 10,000 price tag is in demand, and he was right.
The first Armani Privé collection was completely wearable, and seemed set up for high level social events. Despite of apparent "earthiness" of Armani Privé every thing in it is sewn by hand, which takes two months, and price  was over 10,000 euro!!! Betting on super-luxury was correct one. Each season European customers oder an average of 3 ensemble from Armani Privé. In addition, Armani sends his main seamstresses straight to his prime clients who orders few dresses per season. "Chanel" does same thing - paying their main seamstress for private jet flights around the world! After all many of the major "haute couture" clients not even present at catwalks. Instead they get DVD of a show or password to view new collection online. specially for "haute couture" customers. Fashion house having closed shows in showrooms let say in New York. "Versace" shows his haute couture dresses in hid Paris show-room. Besides fashion houses started to hold screenings of their couture collections in New Delhi or Hong Kong. Since their new potential customers can not or do not want to come to Paris then they have to bring collections there. "Valentino" fashion house sad that they fly to Moscow and Dubai for clients meetings since is only 10% shops at Paris show-room.

Armani Privé, Spring 2008 Couture

Parisian fashion houses "fashion high fashion" again taking over the world. Wealthy clients want to have an exclusive and rare items, sewn on their individual standards and custom. High fashion gives them that opportunity.

No comments:

Post a Comment