The Difference Between Dressmaking and Couture

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Friday, 25 November 2011 11:00

The Difference Between Dressmaking and Couture

Written by d'Italia
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Dressmaking & Couture Explained:   When one talks about women's fashion and the creation of women's clothing, dressmaking and couture are often mentioned. But what exactly does dressmaking and couture mean? And are there any differences between the two terms?
What is Dressmaking? Dressmaking, simply put – is the craft of making dresses. This is usually done by none other than your friendly neighbourhood dressmaker. As a trade itself, dressmaking involves a lot of practical and technical skill. It has a certain science to it, where techniques are to be mastered and perfected. The beginner dressmaker learns the basics of sewing, measurement taking, pattern creation and fabric cutting. Some learn the trade on their own, while others, who make dresses professionally, are formally trained for it. Whichever way the craft of dressmaking is learned, being a successful dressmaker depends a lot on the execution of the techniques and technical skills learned. Of course, it also helps if one also knows something about couture. What is Couture? The word couture, is defined as the business of dressmaking and fashion design. Not surprisingly, couture, directly translated from French is dressmaking. When one mentions couture, more often than not, they pertain to haute couture or high fashion.  Haute couture, is the creation of custom-fitted garments which are exclusive to an individual. Haute couture garments are made from high end and expensive fabrics, and crafted with intense attention to the detail and finish. This type of clothing is usually made by hand. Although the term haute couture has widely been used to refer to any custom-fitted and high-fashion clothing, in French law, it's actually a protected name. The use of this term in France is strictly regulated, and fashion houses can only use it if they meet particular standards. To be able to use the term haute couturein France, fashion houses must meet the rules that were laid down in 1945 (and updated in 1992) by the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In order to qualify, a fashion house must adhere to these simple standards:   have a minimum of 15 people employed at their workshops (called atelier). must create made-to-order fashions for private clients completed through at least one fitting. a collection of at least thirty-five runs must be presented to the press in Paris each season, comprising of outfits for daytime wear and evening wear.   These strict rules make sure that only the finest fashion houses in France will earn the legal right to use the term. Haute couture at fashion shows today rarely get sold, and the purpose of their creation is usually to enhance the good name of the house. With the decline of haute couture sales throughout the years, many houses have decided to drop their couture division, resulting in only 10 officially sanctioned haute couture houses in existence today, namely: 1. Adeline Andre 2. Chanel 3. Christian Dior 4. Christian Lacroix 5. Dominique Sirop 6. Emanuel Ungaro 7. Frank Sorbier 8. Givenchy 9. Jean-Paul Gaultier 10. Scherrer Dressmaking vs. Couture As these two words are often exchanged with each other, the difference between dressmaking and couture all boils down to semantics. Dressmaking refers to the more technical side of garment making, while couture leans towards the creative side. Couture is basically dressmaking that  goes one step further by bringing central focus on fashion design. To illustrate the differences, we look into this simple analogy. Let's say, instead of dresses, we're making houses. To build a house, architects are hired to deal with the overall design, while builders are employed to deal with the construction of the actually house. In terms of dressmaking, couturiers are the architects, while the builders are your dressmakers. They often work together to reach a common goal – which is the making of a dress. And with couture, it won't be just any dress, but a highly fashionable one that's made with thought and expertise. Indeed, dressmaking and couture are terms synonymous to each other, but with subtle differences. Yet at their heart, they are two aspects of fashion that define the industry year after year.
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