A crash course in the haute couture.
August 5, 2007 5:59 PM   Subscribe

What is the haute couture? Who buys it? How does one become a couturier? What does it have to do with luxury?
posted by bijou at 5:59 PM on August 5, 2007

The emperor has no clothes.
posted by IronLizard at 6:11 PM on August 5, 2007

My favorite part of a documentary about the women who purchase haute couture (and who are extremely secretive) was watching Patti Smith gush over Ralph Rucci after a showing.
posted by gsh at 6:13 PM on August 5, 2007

Oh my God.

I just had a fashiongasm.

Thank you!
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:25 PM on August 5, 2007

The "other designers" link should go here, not to the main page.
posted by bijou at 6:34 PM on August 5, 2007

Oh, and also, the Met did a retrospective focused on Nan Kempner's personal collection, which can be seen here.
posted by bijou at 6:47 PM on August 5, 2007

The most interesting thing about couture to me was when I saw ~$20,000+ dresses on racks in some warehouse that were presented in the same manner as suits from a hijacked truck. All the women looked like Helen Mirren types and knew exactly what they wanted. I guess the people who pay that much don't care much about the "experience" of buying as much as they care about acquiring the piece.

And the other half of me wanted to get 3 guys to jack the place with 3 u-hauls and a private flight to Moscow and unload the goods to a bunch of oligarchs.
posted by geoff. at 6:48 PM on August 5, 2007

Holy shit, bijou, that woman had exquisite taste.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:22 PM on August 5, 2007

dirtynumbangelboy, here's a little bit more on her clothing ... habit.
posted by bijou at 7:50 PM on August 5, 2007

I saw the retrospective at the Met. I'm not into couture at all, but I was fascinated. I had always assumed that women like Nan Kempner found a designer they liked and stuck with that designer (like Jackie Kennedy and Oleg Cassini). While she certainly had a fondness for Yves St Laurent, Kempner bought from a wide variety of designers. More photos courtesy of Coquette.

The exhibition is in San Francisco through November 11.
posted by weebil at 8:18 PM on August 5, 2007

Thanks Bijou, I just hit the FIT museum last month and was hoping for more of the same.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:59 PM on August 5, 2007

Wonderful post, thank you!
posted by maryh at 11:28 PM on August 5, 2007

Ooh, thanks, bijou! I saw a great program on public television a few weeks ago called "Secret World of Haute Couture" that was utterly fascinating. I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed your links!
posted by frecklefaerie at 2:51 PM on August 6, 2007

Superb post, again, brava bijou! Wonderfully fun and educational. Lots to savor and learn. Now you've got me wanting to take a trip to the costume exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, immediately.

I love the over the topness of this dress. World couture has always interested me too, the exquisite traditional styles made in India, China or Japan.

Fashion-Era of your what is haute couture link is a great site.

I worked for fours years in the fashion biz in New Delhi and soaked up all the rich world of beautiful, hand-crafted textiles or fabric treatments done there, occasionally getting a glimpse of outsourcing work for some designer houses, like Valentino sequins work.

The world of an haute couture patron, Portrait of a Newport Lady: The Fashionable Woman in 1900

The Story of Gwendolen King Armstrong As Seen Through Clothing, Photographs and Letters

The Devil Wears Prada was such a mischievous glimpse into the contemporary couture world. Anyone know of a good novel with haute couture as the backdrop? Would love to sink my teeth into a juicy fashion history tale.
posted by nickyskye at 9:11 PM on August 6, 2007

ps This year I've seen this black and white floral scroll pattern on a lot of skirts and dresses (don't know where the original design was from). It reminds me of this wonderful, elegant Worth dress from your Charles Frederick Worth link.
posted by nickyskye at 9:32 PM on August 6, 2007

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