Are couturiers and their ateliers still relevant?

Here’s another piece from my Masters’ blog that I think is worth reposting …

Are couturiers and their ateliers still relevant?

haute couture ateliers relevance in modern fashion
Dior Haute Couture SS18 finale: The list of Grand Couturiers that showed during Haute Couture SS18 fashion week included Givenchy, Alexandre Vauthier, Giambattista Valli, Julien Fournié, Jean Paul Gaultier, Stéphane Rolland, Christian Dior, Alexis Mabille, Franck Sorbier, Chanel, Schiaparelli and Maison Margiela. Image: Dior via WWD

Fashion is not just about high street stores, online shopping and $5 t-shirts. Fashion at its core is about the making of garments to fit and suit your body perfectly.

Who are the couturiers and what is haute couture?
With the current fashion trends focused almost entirely on streetwear and sportswear, it’s easy to forget that fashion used to come first from the delicate hands and exacting minds of the haute couture ateliers – the studios of ‘high elegant sewing’. Basically sewing by hand.

Over the years, however, it has come to be defined as being: ‘fashion that is constructed by hand from start to finish, made from high quality, expensive, often unusual fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable sewers, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques’ (Huffington Post 2015).

The Chambre syndicale de la haute couture as it is now known was originally founded in 1868, and rigorously chooses a very limited number of 100 members in three groups or Chambres Syndicales – Haute Couture including Grand Couture, Couturiers’ and Fashion Designers’ Ready-to-Wear and Men’s Fashion as exemplars of quality fashion and design (Chambre syndicale de la haute couture 2018).

Of these three groups, to become a member of the Haute Couture Chambre Syndicale is considered the highest honour a fashion designer can aspire to (Chambre syndicale de la haute couture 2018).

Why should we care about haute couture ateliers?
Haute Couture can be defined as being the highest level of the creation of garments; the Chambre was founded to promote ‘Haute Couture and creation [to] have a major impact by combining traditional know how and contemporary technology at all times’ (Chambre syndicale de la haute couture 2018).

It is the work of these couturiers and their atelier teams that continue the core skills and history of handcrafting garments to perfectly fit a body. These handcrafting skills are the basis for every factory machine action that is used to create prêt-à-porter, or ready-to-wear clothing.

Without the continuation of revered ateliers like embroiderer Maison Lesage which partners with Chanel for its haute couture collections, so much knowledge and skill would be lost.

Without the couturiers and ateliers, there would be no fashion; just a lot of clothes.

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