Monday, August 27, 2012

Haute Couture is Art - That's Why You Can't Understand It


Haute couture:  high fashion; the most fashionable and influential dressmaking and designing.
Haute = high; couture = sewing.

(l-r:  Iris van Herpen Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2012 via Edelscope; Alexis Mabille Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2012 via; Psych-O)
If you look at haute couture and you think, oh my God, that's insane, who would ever wear that?, you are thinking about it the wrong way.  Haute couture is to fashion as Picasso is to art.  Haute couture is the vehicle for designers to show off their vision, talent, and skill.  It is not meant to be worn or even understood.  Salvador Dali and Jackson Pollock are considered great artists, yet who really understands their work?  Just as Cézanne, Matisse, and van Gogh have inspired generations of artists and influenced many different genres of art, the impact of haute couture trickles all the way down to your neighborhood Fifteen Dollar Store. 

In this scene from The Devil Wears Prada, editor Miranda Priestly, played by Meryl Streep, eloquently explains the trickle-down effect of fashion:

I do not understand why everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.
Claude Monet

"Haute Couture.", n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2012.


  1. Thanks for this: I think that looking at high fashion like sculpture might help me appreciate it better! I do like me some art.

    I've always wondered about this Meryl Streep clip, though. I've had it recommended to me when I've wondered why I should pay attention to fashion. I find the value chain interesting, but its complexity doesn't persuade me that I need to look any higher on the value chain than I already do. Do you have any thoughts on this?

  2. Hi, Karen. Thanks for visiting! Do you mean, is it worth it to buy the more expensive, designer clothes? Most of the time, I would say no, especially if you want something very trendy. I rarely buy designer clothes because 1. I know from design school that the markup is high and 2. I can't bear to pay those prices! Whatever designer clothes I have, I've probably bought from Marshalls or TJ Maxx. Now, those-in-the-know say you're supposed to spend more money for tailored clothes, such as suits, because more care, attention, and skill is put into the construction on the higher end. I supposed this is true. But I personally still don't want to shell out $800 for a suit jacket when one from New York & Company will suit my purposes just fine. I do notice a difference between designer shoes and, for example, Target shoes. A designer pair usually uses better quality, more supple leather and will last longer due to more meticulous construction.

    I hope this answered your question! If not, please let me know.