THE MID-1800s

As every true student of fashion history knows, Charles Fredrick Worth, who – in mid-nineteenth century Paris – elevated the work of dressmaking to an art, is credited as the father of haute couture.


In France, haute couture is a term protected by law and refers to the creation of made-to-order clothes constructed of the most luxurious of fabrics, with excruciating attention to detail and finished by “les petits mains,” the gifted and experienced seamstresses critical to the designers for whom they apply their “little hands.”


Given that the rules and standards for membership in the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture are rigid and absolute, entitlement to the label ‘haute couture’ is hard won, even by the most vaunted of French designers.


Only two American designers, ever, have been permitted, by the exacting Chambre Syndicale, to prepare and show a couture collection in Paris (more about them to come ). There are, however, two whose work has long been compared to that of French haute couturiers.



More about them next time…

Note: While these photographs depict clothes from their collections produced in the 1960s and 1970s, Chanel, Balenciaga and Dior were long time members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
Dior Chanel

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