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What is Couture?

It's come to our attention that couture's confusing. Clothes don't earn the label just because they debut in Paris, or because they walk a runway on L

It's come to our attention that couture's confusing. Clothes don't earn the label just because they debut in Paris, or because they walk a runway on Lara Stone's back, or because they cost an obscene amount of money. To design couture, to become a couturier, one must be certified by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and follow these rules:

  • Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
  • Have an atelier in Paris that employs at least 15 people full-time.
  • Each season present a collection comprised of at least 35 looks for both day and night.

Though the first couturier, Charles Frederick Worth, was a Brit, the following Parisians and French houses are the only certified couturiers: Adeline André, Anne Valérie Hash, Chanel, Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix, Dominique Sirop, Franck Sorbier, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Maurizio Galante and Stéphane Rolland. There are four correspondent members: Elie Saab, Giorgio Armani, Maison Martin Margiela and Valentino, and a rotating list of guest designers.

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What else does it take to make couture? The details of Chanel's Spring/Summer collection, after the jump.

Yesterday Karl Lagerfeld sent 65 looks down his runway at 31 Rue Cambon. Chanel sent out a release this morning with all the details:

“NEON BAROQUE” COLLECTION CHANEL, Spring Summer 2010 Haute-Couture THE COLLECTION - Fabrics: satin, tweed, lace, chiffon and tulle - Colors: pastel and acid tones, silver lamé - Buttons: mercury color, shiny chrome - Finishings: “Hidden” seams. It takes 3 hours to hand-stitch these seams along one meter of fabric. To make the “hidden seams” of some pieces took 35 hours of work in the atelier. Silver threads or silver paint on embroidered satin Silver stucco effect for the baroque touch Certain dresses are adorned with 80 buttons Sleeves and hems trimmed with tulle - Stockings: oily, silver effect - Hairstyles: “heart” hairstyle - Music: electronic and synthetic rock recalling the neon lights - Decor: “Aluminum box” 1000 square meters of aluminum for the floor, benches and columns Floor: finished with a layer of aluminum 1200 square meters of aluminum colored fabric for the ceiling and walls 25 columns covered with neon tubes (4200 tubes) in mauve, pink, yellow, green and off white 650 meters of chrome colored fabric for the couches 500 people worked on the project SOME EXAMPLES - Wedding dress and cape: 1300 hours of work in total Cape: 200 meters of tulle and silk cr√®peline (800 hours of work) Dress: satin and chiffon (190 hours of work) embroidered by the Maison LESAGE (350 hours of work) - Look 37, “grenade” cape: 700 hours of work in total Entirely made by the Maison LEMARIE. Round pieces of pink satin and chiffon sewn one on top of the other. - Look 22, dress and jacket made of more than 13,000 satin flowers (made by the Maison LESAGE) MASSARO / SHOEMAKER - 70 pairs of short platform boots in mercury/bright silver color. More than 30 hours of work for certain pairs. - Materials: leather, lizard, python and eel skin - Heels: “sculpted” or “rock-work” heels LESAGE / EMBROIDERER - Collaborated on the making of 12 looks - Color: mercury/bright silver - Materials: sequins, crystals, pearls and strass - Embroideries: on lace, chiffon or satin - Wedding gown: sequins, pearls and crystals embroidered on the front, sleeves and back of the dress. 350 hours of work in the ateliers of the Maison Lesage.