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An Exploration of the Historical Development of “Haute Couture” in France:

An Exploration of the Historical Development of “Haute Couture” in France Jamie Arnold

What is “Haute Couture?”:

What is “Haute Couture?” Haute couture is a one-of-a-kind design that is made specifically for buyers of French and foreign dress shops as well as private customers. Haute couture replaced couture a facon, which is dressmaking for the individual. But haute couture is not to be confused with pret-a-porter, which is ready-made clothing.

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Who Started “Haute Couture” in the Fashion Industry? Who Were Some of the really influential Fashion Designers?

Charles Frederick Worth:

Charles Frederick Worth Charles Frederick Worth initiated “haute couture” First Designer to develop and produce the final product of women’s clothing Set the tone for high fashion during the latter half of the 19 th century Brought Paris Fashion home to America

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*Born in 1826 in England. *At age 12, Worth began working at Allenby’s, which was the largest fabric store in London at the time. *Left London for Paris in 1846 at age 20 where he began working at Gagelins on the rue de Richelieu. They sold shawls, ready-made coats, and fabrics. *Worth believed that customers should be able to choose what fabrics and trims would be added to their garments.

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He began designing dresses for his wife so that when customers came to the shop, they would be astonished and want the same thing. Worth became so successful because customers were so intrigued, that the firm Gagelin and Opige, created a dressmaking workroom for him. In the late 1850’s, the Worth’s opened their own business on the rue de la Paix.

Paul Poiret:

Paul Poiret Was born in 1879 Began his career at the House of Worth He understood the importance of costuming famous actresses that were in major stage productions. Between 1898 and 1900, he designed costumes for Gabrielle Rejane in Zaza and for Sarah Bernhardt in L’aiglon, in which she played a young son of Napoleon 1. Throughout his career he used the theatre to promote his designs. He dominated the world of couture between 1907 and the first World War.

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Poiret’s work was criticized by the press because cubism, contemporary music, and other avant-garde demonstrations were called “Germanic” and “barbarian,” during the time of the War. The fact that his creations were favorites in Germany was used to “prove” his sympathy for the enemy. WW1 brought many changes to the couture. Poiret and other designers were drafted into the military, and their houses were closed. Many weavers and silk industry clients were called into the army. Sarah Bernhardt Gabrielle Rejane

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Gab rielle Cha nel

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Born in 1883 in France She received the nickname “Coco” because as a young girl, she would rise at the crack of dawn to go horseback riding. She was called Mlle. “Cocorico” (Cockadoodle). She taught women to dare to wear fake jewelry because she herself did, which will probably continue forever. One day when she felt cold, she put on a polo sweater, and so the idea of using jersey for feminine clothes was born in her mind. During the War, fashion began to simplify. Extravagant decorations began to seem inappropriate.

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Many French and English Aristocrats had been killed in the battles of WW1, and the postwar cycles of depression and inflation created instability and financial uncertainty. The Fashion industry took a hit because of these economical factors which allowed Chanel popularity because of the simplicity in her designs.

Why is France known for its Haute Couture?:

Why is France known for its Haute Couture? The garments are custom-made, not mass-produced like in the U.S. There is so much work and creativity that is put into the actual garment, which makes it so inspiring and cherished. The whole world awaits for the new Paris fashions to trickle down to their local malls and boutiques. Manufacturers all over the world will do whatever it takes the minute they hear what color will be fashionable and what fabric will be in trend.

What is a Fashion House?:

What is a Fashion House? A fashion house or “ couture house ” is headed by a top designer where new fabrics, trims, etc. are discussed. Manufacturers go to couture houses and present their new ideas to the designers. There are two different departments in a fashion house : The flou , which is the dressmaking department and the tailleur, which is the tailoring department.

Some of the Jobs/Outcomes of being a Fashion Designer…:

Some of the Jobs/Outcomes of being a Fashion Designer…

Charles Frederick Worth:

Charles Frederick Worth The House of Worth’s dressmakers began serving the Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, in 1860, once she had heard of Worth’s accomplishments. The Empress had the House of Worth appointed as the court dressmaker in 1860. After this, the Worth’s acclaimed international success. Worth died in 1895, at the age of 71. Empress Eugenie

Paul Poiret:

Paul Poiret Poiret dressed stars like Marthe Brandes, Theo, Mary Garden, and Reishenberg. He also worked for the House of Worth . Poiret began his own House at 5, rue Auber. He established the School of Decorative Arts which he named Martine. He created the minaret skirt and a vogue for harem skirts. Mary Garden

Harem-skirt :


Gabrielle Chanel:

Gabrielle Chanel Elite women of high societies around the world wore Chanel when she revolutionized haute couture. She designed stage costumes for the plays Cocteau’s Antigone (1923) and Oedipus Rex (1937) and film costumes for several movies.

Where did these designers look for inspiration?:

Where did these designers look for inspiration? Chanel found inspiration in men’s clothing. Worth had been involved in retail businesses for many years and grew tired of the same boring apparel. Poiret was inspired by Russian peasant art and Oriental designs

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Is located at 102, rue du Faubourg St. Honore, Paris, France. The purpose of this Syndicale is rarely understood by the common people. There are over 900 members, but they are divided into categories. The Syndicale represents all member establishments on law, taxes, and on every other question of employment. They will take care of any problem presented to them by the firms. Its most important role is its educational one. The Ministry of National Education founded the Chambre Syndicale school in 1929, which ensures training for every boy and girl in France who shows particular interest in needle trades or allied arts

What type of Schooling is Offered to FashionDesigners?:

What type of Schooling is Offered to FashionDesigners? Both public and private schools in France teach sewing, millinery, and other crafts. The schooling of these categories is mandatory. In May of each year, the children’s work is observed to see if they qualify to continue their studies. Those students who do, are accepted to the Chambre Syndicale school if they choose to go.

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The 1st year of schooling revolves around learning sewing techniques which are all critical to the success of a garment. The 2 nd year consists of learning how to construct actual garments. The 3 rd year students focus their attention on women’s tailoring and draping where they become experts in sewing and can basically create excellent results with the use of any fabric

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Works Cited:

Works Cited From Paris to Providence: Fashion, Art, and the Tirocchi Dressmakers Couture Culture Dressmakers of France

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