The birth of haute couture, with the most important innovations in the production and social meaning of clothing, is credited to “The Father of Haute Couture”Charles Frederick Worth. An Englishman who moved to Paris in 1845 and began working on exclusive shop on the rue de Richelieu, where the most accomplished French dressmakers were located. By 1858, he opens his own dressmaking Worth and Bobergh and he manage to convince the wife of the Austrian ambassador, to wear one of his designs at the court of Napoleon III, which have a big success and, therefore, the world fashion begins in the early 1860s.
What set Worth apart from previous dressmakers was not simple that he was male rather than female, but rather that, for the first time, fashionable women’s wear was the creation of a single designer who selected fabrics and ornaments and developed the design and final product. His extraordinary influence over the direction of France’s luxury textiles industry gained a control of all aspects of the dressmaking process.
Worth was able to set the tone of high fashion by designing gowns for masquerade balls and formal court appearances, with extremly expensive fabrics such as silk, brocade and handmade lace.
Also, his designs was notable for his use of lavish fabrics, his incorporation of elements of historic dress and his attention to fit.
Another extraordinary French couturier, is Jacques Doucet, known for his elegant dresses, made with translucent fabrics in superimposing pastel colors.
He opens his first fashion house in 1871, designing evening gowns made of lace, silk, embroidery, flowers, and ribbons.
But “The king of Fashion” can’t be no one else than Paul Poiret, who proved to be the most sophisticated of all couturiers, for his divine style and for his ability to define the desires of women. His exotic tendencies were expressed through his enigmatic silhouettes, such as his icon “lampshade” tunic and his “harem” trousers. But effectively, Poiret established the canon of modern dress and developed the blueprint of the modern fashion industry.
Poiret used to say to his clients entering to his couture house ” You will not feel that you are in a shop, but in a studio of an artist, who intends to make of your dresses a portrait and a likeness of yourself”. Each gown was presented as worn by a stading figure , beside to a piece of furniture or painting in most cases inspiring.
In freeing women from corsets and dissolving the hyperbolic silhouettes, Poiret effected a concomitant revolution in dressmaking, with straight lines, ornament and sensuality.
It is ironic that Poiret rejected modernism, given that his technical and commercial innovations were fundamental to its development. But Poiret may have been the last great orientalist, he also was the first great modernist.
Today Haute Couture Designers