From humble beginnings to present day, we chart the history of haute couture.
1858: English couturier, Charles Frederick Worth established the first haute couture house in Paris, championing exclusive luxury fashion for the upper-class woman and coining the term 'fashion designer' - an artist in lieu of the basic dressmaker.
1868: Le Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture was first established as the safeguard of high-fashion. Designers were required to earn the right to label themselves a couture house according to certain specifications. These were later outlined in 1945.
1908: The phrase "haute couture" was used for the first time.
1921: The French press created PAIS (L'Association de Protection des Industries Artistiques Saisonnieres), in a bid to protect individual haute couture designs from piracy. Designs were photographed on a mannequin, front, back and side, and registered as evidence.
A dress made by the couturier Charles Frederick Worth in 1923. Image: Getty
1945: New specifications of Le Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture were established:
- Designs must be made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings
- Each atelier must have at least 20 members of staff
- Each season, the couture house must present a collection of at least 35 runs with both daytime and evening wear to the Paris press.
1947: France's fashion industry was successfully revived from wartime austerity with Christian Dior's 'New Look' collection. Dubbed Corelle, after the botanical term for the frail petals in the centre of a flower, the collection featured a new-found glamour in the shape of tight waists, stiff petticoats and billowing skirts.
Yves Saint Laurent outside his Rive Gauche boutique in 1966. Image: Getty
1966: Yves Saint Laurent launched Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, the first freestanding couture boutique. Pierre Cardin, Andre Courreges, Ted Lapidus and Emanuel Ungaro soon followed suit in opening their own stores.
1970: The number of couture houses dropped to just 19 (there were 106 in 1946). Many designers attributed blame to the strict rules from Le Chambre Syndicale de La Haute Couture, demanding conditions unsustainable after the war when mass-production was popular and couture clientele diminishing. Thierry Mugler and Christian Lacroix were just two of those defeated by couture's high expenses.
Gianni Versace with his model army in 1991. Image: Getty
2004: Versace was forced to stop holding a show between 2004 and 2012 as a result of the recession making it unfeasible for the brand.
2013: Rad Hourani debuted the first ever unisex couture collection.
2014: Christian Dior brought the first haute couture show to Shanghai and Ralph & Russo joined as the first British brand in over 100 years of Couture Fashion Week. Paris' fashion president, Didier Grumbach announced his stepping down from 16 years at the helm of the trade. Ralph Toledano relaced Grumbach as president of the fashion federation.
2016: In one of the most memorable fashion moments in recent history, Karl Lagerfeld staged the Fendi autumn/winter 2016 couture show on the Trevi Fountain in Rome. In celebration of the house's 90th anniversary – and the brand's second haute fourrure show – models including Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid walked on water in a collection entitled 'Legends and Fairytales'.
Kendall Jenner walking in the Fendi autumn/winter 2016 couture show. Image: Getty
Via Harper’s Bazaar UK