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Monday, 8 April 2013

The age of Haute Couture and its influence on modern wedding styles

This week our guest blog has been featured on UK Alliance Of Wedding Planners Blog,

Haute Couture is a phrase we all associate with cutting edge fashion. However, not everyone knows the true meaning of Haute Couture, its origins, and the influence it holds over so many wedding styles.

Whilst the literal translation of “Haute Couture” can vary from High Fashion, High Sewing or High Needle-work, the meaning associated to the phrase is the creation of exclusive, custom fitted garments, made from the finest materials and finished by only the most adept of seamstresses.
Born in France in the mid 1800’s, Haute Couture is accredited to Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman living in Paris after relocating to design drapes. The humble beginning of Haute Couture was the process of Mr Worth designing and creating simple dresses for his wife. These dresses soon caught the attention of the Parisian society, who regularly commissioned the production of similar garments for themselves.

As the mass market developed, Mr Worth opened his own boutique dress makers and fashion house, the House of Worth, which soon garnered the attention of French high society, the aristocracy and even the Empress Eugenie. Mr Worth is accredited with the implementation not only of labeling his clothes, to verify their quality and maker, but also had the foresight to devise the original form of today’s catwalk fashion shows. He realized that having become hugely popular, it was becoming increasingly unrealistic to make individually designed pieces for all of his customers, and so began the process of designing a number of dresses which were showcased four times each year, worn by models for the approval of his increasing clientele. Such was his success, he often turned custom away, in favour of working on what is now termed, his collection(s).

One of the most seminal creations of Mr Worth was his “Court Presentation Dress”, a garment made of heavy silk, with lace trim, exquisitely detailed embroidery, intricate and beautiful floral design and long trains. These dresses were highly expensive, and worn by debutantes, the equivalent of modern day socialites, at the celebration of their reaching womanhood, and therefore attaining a position within the social elite circles.

It was this eye for design, and innovation on the design and creation of garments that spawned the entire way in which the fashion industry now operates. The bi-annual Haute Couture fashion shows include a bridal gown, with a distinct feel often somewhat avant-garde, that distinguishes them as being of the highest calibre, and eye catching attention to detail that cannot go unnoticed.

The influence of Haute Couture in weddings is an important transition into how marriage ceremonies are themed and designed. The Haute Couture elite of designers are the few who determine fashion trends, and subsequently, the wedding trends. From appreciating the natural beauty of spring and reflecting it in designs that incorporate butterflies or birds, through to revisiting the renaissance artistes such as Michelangelo, inspiration is cascaded down into gowns each year, to give a twist on the subtle softness of the traditional wedding dress, through to a complete overhaul of the expected, with some eye catching works like nothing else that will ever be seen at a wedding.        

Presently, wedding dresses do not necessarily come made specifically for the bride, as this is often too expensive for the majority of young couples. Whilst many would opt for custom made gowns of the highest quality, the reality is that this is less possible, and visiting purveyors of wedding dresses will normally yield a closely resembling garment to that desired by the bride. With a suitable selection found, the retailer generally offers alterations to the dress, which includes amending the size to compliment the brides figure, and the addition or removal of details, crystals or embroidery, introduction of colours, themes or prints into the dress etc.

So clearly the ethos of Haute Couture, and its founding father, Mr Charles Frederick Worth, has not only stood the test of time, but has actually proven one, if not the main, of the strongest movements in fashion, and ergo wedding fashion.

But dress making is not the only area influenced so; the importance of Haute Couture extends to all the aspects of the wedding industry. From beautiful, unique hair styling and make-up for highly skilled beauticians, to, delightfully indulgent and individual wedding cakes, through to gorgeous shoes, spectacularly opulent jewellery, and even the layout of the ceremony and reception halls, the custom design and creation of unique pieces has spread to cover every facet of a wedding.

Some images of truly breath-taking Haute Couture images that demonstrate the true power of “High Fashion”.

Images in order from the top downwards.
Bride having custom made dress.
Court presentation dress created by Charles Worth that was worn during a presentation to the Danish Princess Alexandra at Queen Victoria’s court
Distinctive Avante Garde style dress
The juxtaposition of dress styles in Haute Couture
Beautiful Brides