Monday, December 3

Haute Couture

Here's a snap from yesterday's visit to Sonnet's museum and the Haute Couture exhibition, which is quickly becoming the VA's most popular exhibition ever (the lighting doesn't really do the dress justice). I learn from Sonnet that haute couture, or "high dressmaking," refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted fashions in Paris. The couturier Charles Worth (1826-95), is widely considered the father of haute couture as it is known today. Although born in England, Worth made his mark in the French fashion industry while creating one-of-a-kind designs to please some of his titled or wealthy customers. He was best known for preparing a portfolio of designs that were shown on live models at the House of Worth. Clients selected one model, specified colors and fabrics, and had a duplicate garment tailor-made in Worth's workshop. Worth combined individual tailoring with a standardization more characteristic of the ready-to-wear clothing industry, which was also developing during this period. Following WWII (and the focus of the exhibition) the Parisian design house flourished establishing Chanel, Dior, Vionnet, Fortuny and others under the leadership usually of one high-profile designer. By the the '60s a group of young designers who had trained under men like Dior and Balenciaga opened their own establishments which included Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, and eventually Lacroix, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler.

Claire Wilcox is the curator of Haute Couture - bravo!