A few days ago, I wrote about the Haute Couture show at the Paris City Hall. In their materials on the web page, they had a list of important dates in the history of French Couture. Here is the translation of the highlights of that information:
1858 Charles Frederick Worth, considered to be first great fashion designer, opens a “special house of creation” on 7 rue de la Paix in Paris.
1873 Worth employs 1,200 workers in his workrooms.
1903 Paul Poiret founds his house of couture.
1915 Gabrielle Chanel opens her house at 29-31 rue Cambon.
1925 75 houses of couture are represented at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts presented in Paris.
1930 As an economic measure, the 400 customary designs that constitute a collection were reduced to 100. Estimates put the French couture industry at 350,000 workers and 150,000 “paruriers,” or artisans responsible for trimmings (embroiderers, glove makers, lace makers, jewelers).
1935 Elsa Schiaparelli opens her house at 21 place Vendôme. Chanel employs 4,000 workers who create 28.000 gqrments a year.
1937 Cristóbal Balenciaga sets up business at 10 avenue Georges V.
1945 By a decree on April 6, the couture houses must “present in Paris, each season of spring-summer and fall-winter, on dates fixed by the ‘Chambre syndicale de la haute couture parisienne,’ a collection of at least 75 outfits.”
1947 Christian Dior opens his own couture house on 30 avenue Montaigne.
1952 Hubert de Givenchy opens his house on rue Alfred-de-Vigny. Pierre Cardin opens his own couture house on 118 rue du Faubourg- Saint-Honoré.
1953 Couture employs 150,000 workers of whom 6,799 work for haute couture, divided among 59 houses that produce some 90,000 items.
1962 In January, Yves Saint Laurent presents the first collection of his couture house founded the previous year.
1968 Cristóbal Balenciaga closes his house of couture.
1973 Haute couture employs 3,120 workers divided among 25 houses producing 30,000 items.
1976 Jean Paul Gaultier opens his house on 325 rue Saint-Martin.
1987 Christian Lacroix installs his own couture house on rue du Faubourg- Saint-Honoré.
1990 Haute couture employs 928 workers.
1994 Young designers can present 25 outfits a season.
2001 Reform of the rules for using the term haute couture. A designer is no longer required to have a workroom.
2002 Yves Saint Laurent ends his career.
2010 Christian Lacroix closes his couture house.
It’s amazing that Worth alone used to employ more workers in his atelier alone than now work in the entire industry. While haute couture in Paris is not the industry it was, fashion is still the heart-beat of this city.
Paurier (par-oor-e-ay), the word for those makers of fashion trimmings, is related to the noun une parure (oon par-oor). I knew that this meant a set of jewels, like in Guy de Maupassant’s wonderful story La Parure. It can also mean a set of lingerie, or bed or table linens. It’s as multi-faceted a word as the many faces of Parisian haute couture.
- Dreaming of “Paris Haute Couture” Exhibit (cameoblog.com)
- Once Upon a Time (Spring 2013), in the Land of Haute Couture… (fashiontribes.typepad.com)
- Haute Couture One Hundred (stylebubble.co.uk)
- En vogue (onequalitythefinest.com)