From January 22 to 26 Paris is the scene of the fashion shows of haute couture, the French high fashion.
The event is organised by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the association that manages the high fashion in France and that decides which fashion house can expose its collection to the city events. Haute couture is considered the origin of fashion.
The first couturier – the high fashion designer – was the Englishman Charles Frederick Worth, who began to work in Paris in 1858 at the court of Napoleon III, creating clothes for his wife Eugenia de Montijo. From that time the haute couture is still considered exclusive and elitist: every cloth is handmade, the attention for materials and production techniques is always high. The haute couture dresses that are presented on the catwalk are in fact tailored to the customer who orders them, and hand sewn with fine materials.
It takes about 800 hours to produce a high fashion dress, and up to twenty people work on it. Typically the clothes are embroidered by hand and every detail is controlled to perfection.
The seamstresses who work in high fashion today are about 2,200 and are called “les petite mains” (little hands) because they sew almost everything by hand. Usually, an haute couture dressmaker is faithful to the designer for which he works, having with them a pluriannual collaboration.
Despite the cost of these clothes, the earn for the companies is really low: about 1% of the value of a dress.
The houses, therefore, create the high-fashion lines mainly for prestige and to promote themselves: a kind of investment to increase brand awareness and indirectly increase sales of ready-to-wear. The creative and fanciful evening dresses are worn by celebrities on the red carpet, and every company try to dress the actresses or the most popular singers of the moment.
[Photo by FashionTimes]