Since the great age of Louis XIV and his extravagant court, France has been the yardstick for fashion.
Haute Couture is a craft that has endured and evolved for more than one hundred and fifty years.
It is a gentleman named Charles Frédéric Worth who holds the honour of being the originator of Haute Couture. In 1858 he founded the first true house of haute couture at 7, rue de la Paix, in Paris.
He created original items of fashion each distinct and possessing its own personality for individual clients. The essence of haute couture is underpinned by a sense of craft that each season dazzles with its creativity and virtuosity.
The phrase haute couture is itself the French term for high fashion. Couture itself relates to dressmaking, sewing, or needlework while haute means elegant or high.
To own a haute couture model garment is to possess a hand customised fashion design by a couture design house that is of the highest possible level of quality. A hand made model haute couture garment takes into consideration both the wearer’s measurements and body stance ensuring an exquisite fit.
The actual term haute couture is protected by law and according to the Syndical Chamber for Haute Couture “only those companies mentioned on the list drawn up each year by a commission domiciled at the Ministry for Industry are entitled to avail themselves thereof”. The criteria to which a fashion house must adhere in order to be categorised haute couture were laid down in 1945 and updated in 1992.
These rules are simple, to be designated as haute couture a minimum of fifteen people must be employed at the workshops and must present to the press in Paris each season (spring/summer and autumn/winter) a collection of at least thirty-five runs consisting of models for daytime wear and evening wear.