Couture– What is cou·ture – /ko͞oˈto͝o(ə)r/ in weddings?
In the year 2000 weddings were really starting to change; from photo journalism to antique cars; simple décor to lavish linens and table settings. What was really catching the wedding world on fire was the buzz word Couture /ko͞oˈto͝o(ə)r/ and by all means not Juicy Couture.
Each year we hear buzz words used to help set yourself apart from others such as microgapping, JOMO, and influencer to name just a few. In 2000 the word Couture which derives from the phrase Haute Couture created a division within the bridal fashion industry. But what does it really mean? Are businesses who use the word really Couture? Can oneself be Couture? I think the best way to break this all down is to start at the beginning with Haute Couture.
Gowns by Ellie Saab
Couture, as I mentioned, derives from the phrase Haute Couture. Translated literally, haute means high as in high fashion, couture is French for sewing, dressmaking. Haute Couture are garments created as one-off pieces for a specific client. It is the art of dressmaking on a luxurious and grandiose scale. Items are made-to-measure, by hand, resulting in pieces of clothing that are both unique and painstakingly perfect. You will rarely, if ever, see these in a salon once they are off the runway in Paris. These fashions are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The term Haute Couture is protected by law in France and is defined by the Paris Chamber of Commerce with strict rules within the fashion industry. There are only 15 design houses honored and qualitied as a Haute Couture Design House: Chanel, Christian Dior, Versace, Valentino Elie Saab, Ralph & Russo, Givenchy and Armani to name just a few.
Gowns top to bottom:
Anne Barge, Ines Di Santo, Isabelle Armstrong, Isabelle Armstrong
Justin Alexander, Romona Keveza Legends, Monique Lhuillier, Pnina Tornai
Rivini, Romona Keveza Collection
Couture is one of the most misused terms in fashion. Today Couture seems to be used by those without special knowledge, application or experience by tossing it around as an “exotic” French expression to make themselves sound smarter; more elite. In 2000 you would hear designers say Couture gowns are hand sewn and must be made of silk fabrics. They are fitted to the exact measurements of the client’s body moving on to the making of a muslin to be fitted after many fittings. The muslin is altered, if need be, and a pattern is made and the fabric begins to be cut.
The main misconception people have about the term haute couture is that it applies to all handmade and/or made-to-order garments, whether manufactured by seamstresses at Dior or aspiring fashion design students. This isn’t entirely incorrect, but it is a very loose interpretation of the term. Some fashion houses add to the confusion by falsely describing their special collections as “haute couture”; you’d think they should be the first ones making sure the term is used correctly, but the fashion industry probably fuels the mystery behind these two words on purpose as to create more buzz of high end or luxury items, enabling them to sell more.
Today the use of “Couture” is very simple, its used to refer to high end or luxury items like silk. So yes, in general you could say this for fashion but for me when I see Juicy Couture sweat pants I have to stop and scream NO, it needs to stop. Yes, there may be sewing involved but its perception of luxury is not. So as with everything today that was special in the past is now common as we are welcoming Couture Homes, Couture Nails, Couture Spa and Couture Candy which has nothing to do with sewing, at least the last time I checked.