POPSUGAR Fashion

Everything You Need to Know About Haute Couture

Jul 8 2014 - 6:55am

The word "couture" gets thrown around quite a bit, but in reality it's a term reserved for a rarity of occasions. Haute couture is a name protected by the Paris Chamber of Commerce [1] and limited to a select group who qualify for the distinction. Which is why the semiannual Paris haute couture shows, starting once again with the Fall collections, are such a brief and exciting period!

Houses including Giambattista Valli [2] and Chanel (as shown above) create spectacles with ornate and intricate hand-stitched made-to-order work. So what techniques in particular should you be looking out for on the runways? Find out — and zoom in on all the embellishments — in the gallery!

Beading at Elie Saab

Elie Saab [3] ensured dresses truly sparkled with intricate handwork throughout the designs.

A Closer Look at Elie Saab's Beading

Beading at Elie Saab

A touch of glimmer was balanced with a sleek column for a more subtle effect.

A Closer Look at Elie Saab's Beading

Lace at Chanel

Chanel's lacy layers added vintage appeal to the label's Parisian chic aesthetic.

A Closer Look at Chanel's Lace

Lace at Chanel

Lace has never looked so edgy as it did here in black.

A Closer Look at Chanel's Lace

Pleating at Jean Paul Gaultier

Adding drama to an already daring collection, Jean Paul Gaultier [4] enhanced a striking runway with geometric folds.

A Closer Look at Jean Paul Gaultier's Pleating

Pleating at Jean Paul Gaultier

Fringe and pleating created a linear tour de force.

A Closer Look at Jean Paul Gaultier's Pleating

Feathers at Giambattista Valli

Giambattista Valli [5]'s allover plumes gave this cocktail number wings.

A Closer Look at Giambattista Valli's Feathers

Feathers at Giambattista Valli

Even faux counts in couture — when you're referring to faux feathers, that is!

A Closer Look at Giambattista Valli's Feathers

Embroidery at Valentino

Valentino's demure designs mixed sheer fabrics with layers of delicate stitching.

A Closer Look at Valentino's Embroidery

Embroidery at Valentino

Red-hot stitching made this number a showstopper!

A Closer Look at Valentino's Embroidery


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