I had a bit of a Couture thing going last weekend and ordered half a dozen books on Haute Couture and Historical Fashion from the library (God bless public libraries).
BTW did you know the difference between Haute Couture and Couture? For a fashion house to call its garments Haute Couture it must follow the rules laid down by the Paris Chamber of Commerce which are –
- 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.
When selected they then become members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. What an excellent way to keep skilled embroiderers, hat makers etc in work. I wonder if British couturiers do the same sort of thing.
Anyway, back to the books. Whilst leafing through them and salivating over the beautiful outfits I came to the conclusion that modern fashion designers could learn a thing from the old Masters. I fell in love with this coat (made in 1919) from Paul Poiret.
It’s stunning. The cream design down the front is leather filigree and hand sewn to the coat. The collar is fur which is not so nice. I was thinking that something like this could be recreated – machine embroidered design on the front with a thick man made fleece fabric for the collar. The more I looked at it the more I felt the urge to make a tribute coat, so now I am looking around to source fabric and suitable designs for the front………watch this space.
Elsa Schiaparelli also knew a thing or two about embroidery. At the height of her fame in the late 30s to early 40s she was producing beautiful pieces like these. My favourite is the Elephant Embroidery. She was a designer ahead of her time.
And what about this from 1951 – a ball gown designed by Jacques Fath.
Must go now before my sweaty palms ruin these lovely books. Also I’m just about to take delivery of the book “The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute.” Be still my beating heart!