Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What is Haute Couture?

Haute couture (French translation means "high dressmaking") refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted fashions. The term haute couture is a protected name by law that can be used only by firms that meet certain well-defined standards. However, the term is also used loosely to describe all high-fashion custom-fitted clothing, whether it is produced in Paris or in other fashion capitals such as Milan, London, Rome, New York and Tokyo.

The Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de states that 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" of the label haute couture. The criteria for haute couture were established in 1945 and updated in 1992.

To earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term haute couture in its advertising and any other way, members of the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture must follow these rules:
~Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
~Have a workshop in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
~Each season (i.e., twice a year), present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.

The term haute couture has been misused by successive ready-to-wear brands and high street labels since the late 1980s so that its true meaning has become blurred with that of ready-to-wear fashion in the public perception. Every haute couture house also markets ready-to-wear collections, which typically deliver a higher return on investment than their custom clothing. In fact, much of the haute couture displayed at fashion shows today is rarely sold; it is created to enhance the prestige of the house. Falling revenues have forced a few couture houses to abandon their less profitable couture division and concentrate solely on the less prestigious ready-to-wear.

In the 1960s a group of young designers who had trained under men like Dior and Balenciaga left these established couture houses and opened their own establishments. One of the most successful of these young designers was Yves Saint Laurent.

Thanks Wikipedia for the information.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Yves Henri Donat Mathieu Saint Laurent (August 1, 1936 – June 1, 2008) was a French fashion designer who was considered as one of the greatest designers to date.

Saint Laurent left home at the age of 17 for Paris to work for the French designer Christian Dior. Following Dior's death in 1957, Yves, at the age of 21, was put in charge of the effort of saving the Dior house from financial ruin.

Hard Times
Shortly after this success, he was conscripted to serve in the French Army during the Algerian War of Independence. After 20 days, the stress of being hazed by fellow soldiers led the fragile Saint Laurent to be institutionalized in a French mental hospital, where he underwent psychiatric treatment, including electroshock therapy, for a nervous breakdown.

The Beginning of Something Great
In 1962, in the wake of his nervous breakdown, Saint Laurent was released from Dior and he and his lover, Pierre Bergé, started their own fashion house with funding from millionaire J. Mack Robinson. The couple split romantically in 1976 but remained business partners.

Many Firsts

Through Yves career he set many trends.

~He was the first to take works of art and interperate them in fashion.

~He inspiration from other cultures (Russia, China, Africa are just a few examples)

~His recreation of silhouettes from the 1920s, '30s and '40s were the first 'retro' looks.

~In 1966 he was yet again the first to popularize ready-to-wear fashion.

~He was also the first to create a classic tuxedo suit for women in 1966, the line being called Le Smoking.

~Yves was also the first designer to use black models in his runway shows.

~In 1983, Saint Laurent became the first living fashion designer to be honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a solo exhibition.

His Honour and Retirement
In 2001, he was awarded the rank of Commander of the Légion d'Honneur by French president Jacques Chirac. He retired in 2002 after about 40 years in the business and became increasingly reclusive. He created a foundation with Pierre Bergé in Paris to trace the history of the house of YSL, complete with 15,000 objects and 5,000 pieces of clothing.

A Legend Has Died
He died on June 1, 2008 from the effects of brain cancer, at his residence in Paris. YSL is buried in Marrakech Morocco.