Haute Couture and High Fashion
Fashion is the art and science of adapting clothing to current fashions, emotions, and the appearance of a person. It is an artistic and sociological approach to altering and creating a cultural style. Fashion is often associated with beauty, but it is also used to identify desirable patterns of behavior and trends in people. In short, fashion is the way we dress according to social mores. People’s preferences in fashion vary widely, for example, a high fashion trend in one culture may be regarded as trash in another culture.
The word “fashion” comes from the French word “fahour”, which means “to do”. By extension, fashion can be considered a way of doing things, but not a system or method. Fashion, then, is an artistic expression in a given time and place, usually in the domain of clothing, footwear, accessories, hairstyle, makeup, and body proportions, particularly in the fashion of high fashion. Numerous designers, manufacturers, and decorators have made popular and important contributions to the world of fashion.
In nineteenth century French fashion, for instance, ready-to-wear clothing was first called “settlements de pronomie” (for men’s clothes) or, more generally, “preneurs des corsets” (for women’s clothes). In this form of fashion, ready-to-wear clothing included outerwear such as breeches, shirts, blouses, pants, skirts, jackets, and cloaks (a kind of hat), undergarments like socks and undergarments. Common materials used in the production of these clothing items were linen, silk, cotton, rayon, voile, Merino wool, flax, and duchesses. While the nineteenth century saw the rise of mass production in textile industries, the roots of the French fashion system were far from mechanized. The bulk of the materials and the techniques of the time were slow-growth techniques that favored local, artisanal production for every piece of clothing.
Since the early days of the fashion system, haute fashion has been defined as a specific style of dress, which is distinguished by its uniqueness, beauty, simplicity, elegance, spontaneity, androgyny. Haute fashion designers often put much effort into choosing the proper fabric for each article of clothing, which requires a great deal of knowledge about the different fibers and their characteristics, as well as the quality of workmanship available for those fabrics. Some designers deliberately produced items that defy all conventions of dressmaking, for example: trousers with suspenders, skirts with slits, and so on. They are not the products of fashion, per se, but designers who have managed to use the principles of haute fashion in fashion to produce extraordinary clothes.
Throughout history, people have worn many types of dress. At various times and places, people have combined many different patterns and materials to make new and unique dress. High fashion designers can take this variety of historical experience and weave it into designs that have lasted through many decades. They can follow or go against the conventional styles of dress given time and again by earlier generations. They can give the fashion world something new to chew on and can challenge its assumptions about what makes a nice dress.
High fashion designers have always had access to the best materials, the most skilled workmen, and the most innovative ideas for dressing up clothes. The industry has always responded to consumer demand. It is one of the few industries that can boast of a long and varied history, ranging from its humble beginnings in the 15th century to the present day. Nowadays, the clothing industry is an incredibly integrated part of the global economy, employing millions of people worldwide.