For over a century, haute couture has been an influential part of cultures all over the globe. As an emblematic feature for the success of costume and fashion throughout the years, it is no wonder it’s in high demand. “Couture” is a word we hear a lot in the world of fashion, but how many of us really know its meaning or its origin?
Here in the Filmatography studio, we decided to take a look into the elite tier of fashion to find out more about the calibre of work we need to produce for our clients. Much of our work is based in the wedding industry, however we cover a wide range of projects including fashion, product launches and luxury brand campaigns. This led us to wonder more about indulgence, industry standards and luxury innovation.
Haute Couture is steeped in history and nostalgia, elevating its name and giving it an air of expense and wealth. It represents the fusion of fashion – the modern presence that partners innovation and synergy with personal and social needs – and costume – the art of dressmaking and tailoring.
Contrary to belief, couture didn’t originate in France. Despite the direct translation of haute couture being “high dressmaking” in French, the whole concept was born of an Englishman named Charles Frederick Worth. Worth turned the female-dominant industry into the male-dominated industry it is today. Following this, Worth was the first person to ever put his name on a tag inside a garment, and so coined the phrase, “fashion designer”.
Many believe that to refer to an item of clothing as “couture”, it merely has to debut in Paris or Milan, be worn by a famous model on the catwalk or cost an absurd amount of money. This is a common misconception - the bracket for this luxury is actually a very small one indeed. In 1868, Le Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture established the first set of criteria to determine what constituted a “couture house”. Designers were required to ensure garments were custom made to specific measurement and requirement over one or more fittings, so that each item was exclusive in design for the client. In 1945, a stricter set of rules emerged, stating that each atelier (workshop) must have at least fifteen full time staff and is required to present a collection of 35 pieces of both day and formal evening wear to the press twice a year.
Couture is all about glory. It’s a chance for designers to show off their expertise and individuality through their creations. The runway is their stage and their designs are wearable artwork. It’s a showcase of talent, much like anything else. You can see an audience and you can hear the applause.
It has been a pleasure for Filmatography to witness another art form such as luxury fashion in recent years. While haute couture remains beyond the financial means of most people, it inspires fearlessness and imagination in our own fields and teaches us to be brave and bold in our work.
- images courtesy of Ralph & Russo who kindly donated their beautiful couture collection photography to the Filmatography blog.