Fashion is a term used in relation to the latest and the most admired style in clothes, dresses, garments, textiles, cosmetics, etc. Fashion designers work with colours and fabrics. They can specialise in leisurewear, women`s wear, children`s wear, knitwear, sportswear and many others. Fashion design is not restricted to fads, which is generally known as the current look or street wear. It covers everything from uniforms to headwear and is not restricted to western culture. Technically all clothing created for a purpose is fashion design. Fashion design dictates changes in clothing over time. It is often and wrongly perceived that fashion design is restricted to high fashion and label names. Fashion Design grew from serving a practical purpose to a recognized form of art.
Modern fashion design is roughly divided into two categories, Haute Couture, and Pret-a-Porter.
The term "haute couture" is French and it means "high" or "elegant." Couture literally means sewing, or high dressmaking but it indicates the business of designing, creating, and selling custom-made, high fashion women`s clothes. A designer`s haute-couture collection refers to the creation of exclusive fashions made from stylish designs made to order for wealthy and high-status clients. Thus, it is meant exclusively for private customers and is custom sized, cut and sewn made from high quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming hand-executed techniques.
In 1858, Charles Frederic Worth created the first Couture House near the Opera in Paris. The idea behind Haute Couture is an attitude of unlimited creativity where the quality of the art and artistry of a garment is unparalleled. It is similar to a fashion house having a Research and Development Lab where new ideas and techniques are developed with no restraints on creativity or worry about funding.
Haute couture collections are primarily produced in Paris but also in other fashion capitals such as New York, London, and Milan. To be called an haute couture house, a business must belong to the Syndical Chamber for Haute Couture in Paris, which is regulated by the French Department of Industry members must meet specific requirements. A first set of these requirements was established in 1945 and actualized in 1992 by established designers for maintaining respect for these criteria. A simplified set of requirements was established to apply to young, talented designers for their first two years of Haute Couture designing, in order to give them a chance to develop the skill required to move up to the "established" level.
The criteria to be met are the employment of at least 20 production people in the House workshop. Presenting a collection of at least 50 new passages (a number of dresses designed around a single theme and shown at the same time) at a show for the press in Paris at least twice a year.It is also required to show the two collections to clients in a specially arranged salon in the Couture House.
If there are new fashion houses, the criteria are to be met during the two-year transition period by employing at least 10 production people in the house workshop and presenting a collection of 25 passages to the press.However, for existing Houses who want to establish an Haute Couture presence, the criteria are to employ a minimum of 15 production people in the House workshop and then present to the press a collection of at least 35 passages.
Only a few Houses currently meet the Haute Couture requirements, which include brands like Chanel, Christian Dior, Nina Ricci, Versace, Armani and Gucci. Some new members are also in the list like Jean Paul, John Galliano, Valentino and Gianni, Moschino, Escada Louis Feraud, Hermes, Hugo Boss, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, Fendi, Leonardi Emilio Pucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Sergio Rossi, Dunhill, DKNY, Brooks Brothers among others.
It is the French word for the term "Ready to Wear". Ready-to-wear or prêt-à-porter is the fashion design term for clothing marketed in a finished condition, in standard clothing sizes. This refers to most high-end fashion designers. Some fashion houses or fashion designers create ready-to-wear lines that are mass-produced and industrially manufactured, while others offer lines that are very exclusive and produced only in limited numbers and only for a limited time. Whatever the quantity produced, prêt-a-porter items are usually items that are still high in price, but aren`t one-of-a-kind. These types of clothes are not custom made. They are sized according to the manufacturer`s intended market, which makes them more suitable for larger productions.
Fashion houses that produce an haute couture line, such as Chanel, Dior, and Lacroix or Torrente by Julien Fournié, each produce a ready-to-wear line, which returns a greater profit due to the availability of the clothing. Other Designers that fit into this category are Dolce and Gabbana, Louis Vuitton and Dior. Most of these design houses do offer Haute Couture, but also have prêt-a-porter lines. Relative to couture, ready-to-wear clothing is often more practical and informal, though these things are not always the case. The craftsmanship of ready-to-wear clothing is also held to a lower standard than that of haute couture. High-end ready-to-wear lines are sometimes based upon a famous gown or pattern that is then duplicated to raise the designer`s visibility level.
Designers producing ready-to-wear lines generally present a collection each season during a period known as Fashion Week. This takes place on a citywide basis and occurs twice per year. Collections for fall are shown early in the year, usually around February, and spring collections shown around September. Ready-to-wear fashion weeks occur separately from those of haute couture. Paris, New York, and Milan are home to the world`s most famed fashion weeks, but many other major cities such as London, Los Angeles and Tokyo hold Fashion Weeks that are both highly-anticipated and well-publicized.
Ready-to-wear collections can also be divided into designers/creator collections and Confection collections.
Confection collections are the ones we see most commonly in our shops. Stylists design these collections. The brands that produce these collections aim only for a mass public and are in general not searching for a new point of view on fashion.
Designer/creator collections have a high quality, a superb finish and a unique cut and design. These collections are the most trendsetting compared to Haute Couture and Confection. The ready to wear collections often contain concept items that represent a certain philosophy or theory. These items are not created for sales but only to create a fashion statement. The designer`s ready-to-wear collection is also modeled on international catwalks.