Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The House of Worth and I Will Return

Haute Couture. The term was invented to describe the extraordinary use of opulent fabrics, luxurious broidery and the painstaking, almost impossible to imagine, hand work of Charles Frederick Worth.  Refined and exquisite, the creations were ambiguous in their simplicity. This confection of tulle and embellishment on Edwardian corseterie was shown today in Paris. Giovanni Bedin was brought in to revive the House of Worth, having worked with Karl Lagerfeld and a "quick season" with Thierry Mugler.  Like so many other couture houses, The House of Worth's perfume lingered on. I once saved weekly allowances to buy a small Je Reviens for my Aunt Ruth when she was quite sick; I didn't want to let her go. A small vanity and an impossible hope that she would get well. Just the words seemed magical to me ... "I will return."  The stringent requirements to use the term haute couture are listed below ...

In France, the term haute couture is protected by law and is defined by the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris based in Paris, France. Their rules state that only "those companies mentioned on the list drawn up each year by a commission domiciled at the Ministry for Industry are entitled to avail themselves" of the label haute couture. The criteria for haute couture were established in 1945 and updated in 1992.
To earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term haute couture in its advertising and any other way, members of the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture must follow these rules:
  • Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
  • Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
  • Each season (i.e., twice a year), present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.

A deceptively simple chemise, circa 1925, with touches of gold lame revealed by the slits, encrusted with hand-sewn glass beads.


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