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Haute Couture For Beginners
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Haute Couture for Beginners

Haute Couture, Pret-A-Porter and Confection. For those of us on the outside of the fashion industry these terms certainly mean little. I, for one, don’t know how to pronounce them properly. If I was more computer literate I’d put dashes above letters appropriately.

Recently, however, there were two things that happened in my life that inspired me to know more about the fashion industry (specifically fashion designers) and caused me to learn the meanings of these seemingly unusual terms.

The first was that the Valentino Retrospective came to my city.

It was awe inspiringly beautiful. To walk amongst the creations so closely that, for want of permission, I could have just reached out and touched... turned the hems to admire the stitching and caressed the fabrics.

One thing that struck me was the mirroring of what I was seeing in the cheap imitations that we, as average consumers, buy from the stores.

A 'Devil Wears Prada' moment, perhaps?

The second inspiration I had was reading a good book that I found educational and absorbing. It was called "50 Fashion Designers You Should Know" and was so beautifully illustrated and concisely written that I was inspired to browse and read quite extensively.

Of course there were names I knew; Dior, Armani and Yves Saint Laurent. But many other's I was totally clueless about. As I read, I could see in some of the earlier designers the birth of many techniques and fashion nuances that I, as a seamstress, take for granted. Things like cutting on the bias for effect or the halter neckline.

These experiences have really just provided an extension of my love for fabric and the beauty and interest I find in historical costume.

I came to understand the importance of Haute Couture. What it was and where it had come from. It helped to understand the difference between it and Pret-A-Porter and, in turn, Confection.

Haute Couture.

  • These garments are exclusive and made to measure creations with high class tailoring. Often they are a synergy of client and couturier.
  • The fashion label must present thirty-five (or more) new models every season of both day and evening wear.
  • The label must have at least 15 full-time manufacturing staff in a proprietary studio in Paris.
  • Private clients have garments made to measure after at least one personal fitting.
  • These criteria are laid down and annually checked by the French Chamber of Commerce.


  • Models are not made to measure. The garments are made in standardized sizes.
  • Distinguished by high quality, unusual detail and precision cutting.
  • These designs are often the source of inspiration for everyday fashion.


  • Everyday fashion.
  • Mass produced and made from ready-made model designs.
  • Often inspired by Pret-A-Porter designs.

So while I am still an outsider when it comes to the fashion industry, I have expanded my knowledge a little. Perhaps, yours too. I have gained a greater appreciation.

I’ll keep reading good books, dabbling in what interests me, and enjoying my sneak peek into the world of fashion design.

Street Talk

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