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Haute couture

When Pierre Bourdieu contends that taste always trickles downwards from the ruling classes to the masses, he forgets about street fashion, which has trickled upwards in the case of mod fashion, punk and hip hop, first attested in the streets of large European cities and which have since influenced haute couture. [Oct 2005]

high - fashion

Compare with: street fashion

Haute couture

Haute couture (French for 'high sewing') is a common term for high fashion as produced in Paris and imitated in other fashion capitals such as New York, London, and Milan. Sometimes it is used only to refer to French fashion; at other times it refers to any unique stylish design made to order for wealthy and high-status clients.

The term can refer to:

In France, the label "haute couture" is a protected appellation. A certain number of formal criteria (number of employees, participation in fashion shows...) must be met for a fashion house to use the label; a list of eligible houses is made official every year by the French Ministry of Industry. The haute couture houses belong to the professional union the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

The French term for ready-to-wear (not custom fitted) fashion is prêt-à-porter. Every haute couture house also markets prêt-à-porter collections, which typically deliver a higher return on investment than their custom clothing. Failing revenues have forced a few couture houses to abandon their less profitable couture division and concentrate solely on the less prestigious prêt-à-porter. These houses are no longer haute couture. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haute_couture [May 2005]

Mod influence on haute couture

This article is excerpted from a lecture modmiss delivered to the 1994 Popular Culture Association Annual Conference.

The Mod movement started in Britain by young designers such as Mary Quant and Barbara Hulanicki spread to mid-range and high-end fashions. By 1964, much of the off-the-rack mainstream fashions had already adopted many elements of the Mod styles of clothing, including shorter hemlines and simpler construction. Some couture fashions had also become more relaxed and youthful in construction and style, although they did not completely adopt the Mod look. That year, however, one couturier almost single-handedly jump-started the revolution in couture fashions, influenced by the youthful Mod designers. Andre Courrèges started his career in the fashion business working for Balenciaga handling fabric for $25 a month. He opened his own fashion house in 1961. Clothes from his early lines were styled in the conservative tradition of haute couture. In 1964, however, he shocked the couture fashion world when he raised hemlines above the knee, and introduced the first couture trousers for street wear. He was credited with starting an innovation in fashion as he revolutionezed haute couture. --modmiss

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