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In the present world, the fashion industry has greatly evolved especially due to globalization and the development of technology. Fashion industry is, to a large extent, based on the functions of the stakeholders who comprise its designers, factory workers, stores, technically skilled embroiderers, seamstresses, publicists, the press, salespersons, runaway models, fit models, textile manufacturers, couture models, sketch artists, and pattern makers (Breward, 2003, p. 23). Due to the development of technology and internet enabled mobile devices, most individuals manage to learn about the fashions especially those which are emerging, where to find them, and even order them from the comfort of their homes. Additionally, the fashion designers and manufacturers have also received a boost in terms of marketing due to the technological developments. There are numerous fashions designers across the globe including the Haute Couture. This paper pays high attention to the analysis of the haute couture in terms of its history and the role it plays in the fashion industry today.
History of haute couture
The history of haute couture can be traced back in 1858, when Charles Frederick Worth established the first haute couture in Paris with the aim of spearheading exclusive luxury fashion for the upper-class women (Blanchett and Rush, 1998, p. 11). This was followed by the establishment of Le Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in 1868. At this time, the designers were granted the right to earn the right to label their enterprises as couture based on some specifications. In 1908, the term haute couture was used for the first time. In 1921, PAIS (L` Association de Protection des Industries Artistiques Saisonnieres) was created in Paris, in order to protect haute couture designs from piracy (Cumming, 2004, p. 31). In 1945, new specifications of the haute couture were established. Two years later, the French`s fashion industry was revived from the recovered from the wartime austerity with new look collections. The new collection was characterized by glamour in the shape of stiff petticoats, tights waists and billowing skirts.
In 1966, Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, a freestanding couture boutique was launched by Yves Saint Laurent. This was following by the opening of other stores including those which were owned by Ted Lapidus, Andre Courreges, Pierre Cardin and Emanuel Ungaro (Veblen, 1994, p. 23). However, during the next four years, the number of couture houses dropped significantly especially due to the strict rules from the Le Chambre Syndicale de La Haute Couture (BBC News, 2006). Another downfall of this fashion occurred in 2004, when Versace was urged to stop holding a show between 2004 and 2012 due to economic recession which had negatively affected the brand (Hershon, Guerra & Lagerfeld, 1987, p. 67). However, in 2013, the first ever unisex couture collection was launched by Rad Hourani. A year later, the first haute couture show was brought to Shangghai by Christian Dior. In the same year, the first British brand in more than 100 years of Couture Fashion Week, Ralph and Russo was introduced. The memorable moments of the haute couture fashion from its day of inception to date is said to be 2016. This is due to the fact that in that year, the Fendi autumn/winter couture show was staged by Karl Lagerfeld on the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
The role that the haute couture plays in the contemporary fashion industry
The haute couture plays a number of roles in today`s fashion industry. For example, the contemporary fashion houses must adhere to the specific standards and guidelines that were established by the Chambre Syndicale de La Haute Couture in Rome. The presence of these guidelines and standards prevents the contemporary fashion industry from having negative reputations due to poor designs, size, and other specifications (Entwhistle & Wilson, 2001, p. 39). Considering that the competition for limited resources such as the space for exapansion, market for the produced goods and services and talented workforce has increased more than ever before, most designers and fashion entrepreneurs can be lured to look for orthodox strategies of dominating the market. Currently, if any designer feels that he or she cannot manage to meet the established haute couture guidelines and standards that were adopted from the Le Chambre Syndicale de La Haute Couture, he or she has no any other option but to quit from the fashion industry.
Additionally, the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Weeks are still being held in Paris from in January and July every year. This practice is a continuation of the traditions of the haute couture that entails models showcasing the attire (Laver, 1969, p. 83). Maintaining the practice of holding couture culture weeks helps in maintaining the brand, to such an extent that even the young generations of today can understand and recognize this fashion. Additionally, holding couture culture weeks helps in bringing and uniting people together, and this promotes peace and unity of the country in the long run. Moreover, in the present times, customers give designers time to create pieces of clothes that they have ordered. This has been the tradition of the haute couture, which ensured that designers are given time to create pieces that would be used during the following season. For example, if there are weddings in the near future, the clients would approach the designers and give specifications of the luxurious wedding gowns that they intend to wear during the big day (Ash, 1989, p. 52).
Figure 1: haute couture attire (Ash, 1989, p. 52).
Giving the designers time to prepare create the clothing for the following season makes them to have ample time of designing the clothing in terms of sizes, and in the end, produce a product that meets the needed quality standards.
Moreover, considering that haute couture is one of the best fashion designs in the world, most individuals were not aware of their existence due to the fact that the means only means of marketing were the traditional marketing channels such as television sets and printed media (Entwhistle, 2000, p. 43). Additionally, the few who knew about the existence of the haute couture fashion could not access it however much they needed them since the cost of importation were high. In the present times, this challenge has been solved through the development of numerous technological platforms such as email marketing and social media marketing, which allows individuals to have a look of the fashion and even order them within their comfort zones. In the long run, the development of the social media platforms has greatly enhanced the sales and awareness of the haute couture.
It is, therefore, evident that haute couture fashion has tremendously evolved from the time it was introduced. Additionally, the numerous technological inventions such as the social media have made most individuals to know much about it. Consecutively, haute couture fashion has positively influenced the fashion industry in today`s world especially through the guidelines and the culture weeks that are held every year in Rome.
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BBC News, (2006). The Secret World of Haute Couture. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0074t0r/the-secret-world-of-haute-couture
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