Beginners' guide to Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week

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What is Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week? From the price of dresses to why everyone can't do couture, here's what you need to know.

dior paris haute couture fashion week-autumn winter 2014-raf simons-big white dress-pockets-embellished-handbag.com

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Dior Paris Haute Couture Week AW14



What is Haute Couture Fashion Week?


Fashion Week de regular is where designers showcase their ready-to-wear collections, which in theory, are destined for the rails of designer boutiques and department stores. Haute Couture shows see made to measure, sometimes one-off pieces saunter down the runway, which later clad the backs of celebrities on the red carpet, or are ordered by private clients for six figure sums. This is off-the-peg, darling.

Why is Couture Fashion Week a big deal?


The dresses are bigger, designs more intricate and shapes a thing of fantasy. Couture shows are about the designers' skills and vision, rather than a garment or trend that'll work in real life. Call it a couturier's bragging match, with frothy frocks the collateral damage.

Are Couture Fashion Week trends important?


Yes and no. A lot of bridal trends come straight from the couture catwalks, plus red carpet looks that may well translate into formal wear and high street glamour. Rather than seasonal trends, the challenge of Couture Fashion Week is making the traditional art of elaborate dress making feel modern.

Paris Couture Fashion Week AW13, Zuhair Murad

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Zuhair Murad Paris Haute Couture Week AW13



Why don't all designers have a Haute Couture Fashion Week collection?


Simply, not everyone can do couture. A fashion house must legally qualify for Haute Couture status, granted by the French Ministry of Industry and the Fédération Française de la Couture, for which there are strict requirements.

Amongst other things, a designer needs to create made-to-measure collections for private clients, offer personal fittings, have a full-time workshop with over 20 members of staff and present two Haute Couture Fashion Week collections a year, made up of both day and evening wear.

How much does a Haute Couture dress cost?


The cheapest items will probably start at around £10,000, with detailing, embellishment, rare materials and expensive fabrics all pushing the price skywards. Garments can sell for millions, though with the clientele being so small, fashion houses often lose profit as a result of putting on such a grand show.

Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week: Spring/Summer 2013

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Chanel Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week SS14



Who is the best Haute Couture Fashion Week designer?


That's a battle played out by the likes of Chanel, Dior, Valentino, Versace, Elie Saab, Armani, Zuhair Murad, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Stephane Rolland, every January and July in Paris. We wouldn't like to call it, for fear of Karl Lagerfeld.

Why are there no handbags at Couture Fashion Week?


Excellent question. Couture shows focus on couturier skill and the art of dress making, though who doesn't love a fancy handbag? More please fashion houses, more!

CHARLIZE THERON & SEAN PENN DO DIOR COUTURE

WHAT IS A CRUISE/RESORT COLLECTION?

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