SHOWSTOPPERS

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Is there ever a bad time to go to Paris? No need to think too long. The answer is no. With the lights, the museums, the pastries, and best of all the fashion. Twice a year the fashion elite flock to Paris to go to the couture shows. The term haute couture roughly translates to "high sewing," "high dressmaking," or "high fashion." The word couture is thrown about so haphazardly these days so let’s get one thing straight, it has nothing to do with terrycloth sweat suits.

So what is it exactly? Let’s break it down. haute couture exclusively refers to handmade garments that are made in an atelier, or workshop, in Paris. These houses are regulated by the chambre syndicale de la haute couture which is defined as "the regulating commission that determines which fashion houses are eligible to be true haute couture houses". The one of-a-kind garments are made for private clients who will have one to three fittings for their custom outfit. The atelier must employ at least fifteen full-time technically skilled employees. The couture house must show twice a year, in January and June, and show at least 35 looks for day and evening. Designs often feature intricate embroidery, appliqué, and luxe fabrics. Couture shows are like experimental laboratories for designers. It is a venue for them to explore their fantasies as each of the looks is one of a kind, and most are never actually produced. Due to the time, and cost, haute couture is a declining art form, and several houses have closed up shop.

The Spring 2014 Couture Shows had their fair share of beading, sequins, and fur. Elie Saab showcased gorgeous embellished confections in bold colors complimented by soft pleated Grecian gowns. Versace strutted hooded vixens a la Grace Jones in show stopping looks. And Valentino (pictured below) is so in the vein of APRIL PRIDE: luxe monochromatic fabrics in simple silhouettes.  What was so fresh this season was how some designers showed a sort of undone couture. These designs played the perfect foil to their heavier worked counterparts and resulted in an elegant simplicity proving that sometimes, less truly is more.  

 - Andrew Fox

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