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Haute Couture ...or Prêt-à-porter?     

These articles are protected by copyright: Simon Rademan Fashion Design Studio CC  Media request for an interview 

The Style Bible is an easy to read style guide for women - by Simon Rademan - available in bookstoresThank you for visiting our web for this month’s free article. In addition to the traditional biographical information you might expect, these pages are designed to tell you something about Mr Rademan's interests - both related to his chosen career and his many hobbies - and to give us a chance to share knowledge and opinions on subjects of interest.

The label:  "Simon" has become renowned for Haute Couture designs:  exclusive ideas for the individual woman, carefully planned, masterfully executed, and beautifully finished.  Some other designers do this also, but...

  1. what does Haute Couture mean?

  2. where does Haute Couture originate from?

  3. what are the rules?

Definition    -    History    -    Legal status    -   Official Haute Couture designers    -    Balenciaga    -    Chanel     -    Christian Dior     -    Christian Lacroix      -    Elie Saab     -    Emanuel Ungaro     -    Giorgio Armani     -    Pierre Cardin     -    Simon Rademan    -    Valentino     -    Yves Saint-Laurent    -

Definition of Haute Couture:       Back to top

  1. Haute couture  (French for "high sewing" or "high dressmaking"; refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted fashions. It originally referred to French fashion and in France, is a "protected name" that can be used only by firms that meet certain well-defined standards. However, the term is also used loosely to describe all high-fashion custom-fitted clothing, whether it is produced in Paris or in other fashion capitals such as London, New York, Tokyo and Milan.

  2. Haute couture:   (French for 'high sewing') is a common term for high fashion as produced in Paris and imitated in other fashion capitals such as New York, London, and Milan. Sometimes it is used only to refer to French fashion; at other times it refers to any unique stylish design made to order for wealthy and high-status clients.

  3. Haute couture:   Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques.

  4. Haute couture:   High-Fashion garments (of which only a single price is produced) It’s extravagant, it’s irrational, it’s Unique and it’s totally unaffordable.

The term can refer to:

  1.  The fashion houses or fashion designers that create exclusive and often trendsetting fashions.

  2. The fashions created       Back to top

Main sources:      The numerous books I have about my favourite subjects

History of Haute Couture       Back to top

French leadership in European fashion may perhaps be dated from the 18th century, when the art, architecture, music, and fashions of the French court at Versailles were imitated across Europe. Visitors to Paris brought back clothing that was then copied by local dressmakers. Stylish women also ordered fashion dolls from Paris -- dolls dressed in the latest Parisian fashions, to serve as models.

As railroads and steamships made European travel easier, it was increasingly common for wealthy women to travel to Paris to shop for clothing and accessories. French fitters and seamstresses were commonly thought to be the best in Europe, and real Parisian garments were considered better than local imitations. The first couturier to establish international dominance was Charles Frederick Worth (1826-1895.) Even New York socialites crossed the Atlantic Ocean to order clothes from Worth.

Following in Worth's footsteps were: Patou, Poiret, Vionnet, Fortuny, Lanvin, Chanel, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, and Dior. Some of these fashion houses still exist today, under the leadership of modern designers.

In the 1960s a group of young designers who had trained under men like Dior and Balenciaga left these established couture houses and opened their own establishments. The most successful of these young men were Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Andre Courreges, and Emmanuel Ungaro.

Lacroix is perhaps the most successful of the fashion houses to have been started in the last decade.

For all these fashion houses, custom clothing is no longer the main source of income; it only adds the aura of fashion to the ready-to-wear, shoes and perfumes, and licensing ventures that make the real money. A house must be careful, however, not to push the profit-making too far. Cardin, for example, licensed with abandon in the 1980s and his name lost most of its fashionable cachet when anyone could buy Cardin luggage at a discount store.

The 1960s also featured a revolt against established fashion standards by mods, rockers, and hippies, as well as an increasing internationalization of the fashion scene. Jet travel had spawned a jet set that partied -- and shopped -- just as happily in New York as in Paris. Rich women no longer felt that a Paris dress was necessarily better than one sewn elsewhere. While Paris is still pre-eminent in the fashion world, it is no longer the sole arbiter of fashion.   Back to top

Legal status       Back to top

In France, the term haute couture is protected by law and is defined by the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris based in Paris, France. Their rules state that only "those companies mentioned on the list drawn up each year by a commission domiciled at the Ministry for Industry are entitled to avail themselves" of the label haute couture. The criteria for haute couture were established in 1945 and updated in 1992.

To earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term haute couture in its advertising and any other way, members of the Chambre Syndicale must follow these rules:

  1. Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.

  2. Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.

  3. Each season, present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.

However, the term haute couture has been misused by successive ready-to-wear brands and high street labels since the late 1980s so that its true meaning has become blurred with that of prêt-à-porter (the French term for ready-to-wear fashion) in the public perception. Every haute couture house also markets prêt-à-porter collections, which typically deliver a higher return on investment than their custom clothing. In fact, much of the haute couture displayed at fashion shows today is rarely sold; it is created to enhance the prestige of the house. Falling revenues have forced a few couture houses to abandon their less profitable couture division and concentrate solely on the less prestigious prêt-à-porter. These houses, such as Italian designer Antonio Capucci, all of whom have their workshops in Italy, are no longer considered haute couture.       Back to top

Official haute couture houses       -       Who are they?       Back to top

As of early 2007, there are ten official haute couture member houses:

  1. Adeline André

  2. Chanel

  3. Christian Dior

  4. Christian Lacroix

  5. Dominique Sirop

  6. Emanuel Ungaro

  7. Franck Sorbier

  8. Givenchy

  9. Jean Paul Gaultier

  10. Jean-Louis Scherrer

As of early 2007, there are three invited houses: 

  1. Elie Saab

  2. Giorgio Armani

  3. Valentino

There are many fashion houses who were once official haute couture members:

  1. Atelier Versace

  2. Balenciaga

  3. Elsa Schiaparelli

  4. Guy Laroche

  5. Jean Patou

  6. Lanvin

  7. Loris Azzaro

  8. Marcel Rochas

  9. Nina Ricci

  10. Paco Rabanne

  11. Pierre Cardin

  12. Torrente

  13. Yves Saint Laurent       Back to top


Balenciaga is a fashion house founded by Cristóbal Balenciaga, a Spanish designer. He introduced couture shapes to the women's world and was referred to as "the master of us all" by Christian Dior.  His bubble skirts and odd, feminine, yet ultra-modern shapes were trademarks of the house.

Cristóbal Balenciaga opened his first boutique in San Sebastián, Spain, in 1914, which expanded to include branches in Madrid and Barcelona.  The Spanish royal family and the aristocracy wore his designs, but when the Spanish Civil War forced him to close his stores, Balenciaga moved to Paris.

Balenciaga opened his Paris couture house on Avenue George V in August 1937, and his first runway show featured designs heavily influenced by the Spanish Renaissance.  Balenciaga's success in Paris was nearly immediate. Within two years, the French press lauded him as a revolutionary, and his designs were highly sought-after. Carmel Snow, the editor of Harper's Bazaar was an early champion of his designs.

Customers risked their safety to travel to Europe during World War II to see Balenciaga's clothing During this period, he was noted for his "square coat," with sleeves cut in a single piece with the yoke, and for his designs with black (or black and brown) lace over bright pink fabric.

However, it was not until the post-war years that the full scale of the inventiveness of this highly original designer became evident. His lines became more linear and sleek, diverging from the hourglass shape popularized by Christian Dior's New Look.  The fluidity of his silhouettes enabled him to manipulate the relationship between his clothing and women's bodies. In 1951, he totally transformed the silhouette, broadening the shoulders and removing the waist. In 1955, he designed the tunic dress, which later developed into the chemise dress of 1958. Other contributions in the postwar era included the spherical balloon jacket (1953), the high-waisted baby doll dress (1957), the cocoon coat (1957), the balloon skirt (1957), and the sack dress (1957). In 1959, his work culminated in the Empire line, with high-waisted dresses and coats cut like kimonos. His manipulation of the waist, in particular, contributed to "what is considered to be his most important contribution to the world of fashion: a new silhouette for women."

In the 1960s, Balenciaga was an innovator in his use of fabrics: he tended toward heavy fabrics, intricate embroidery, and bold materials. His trademarks included "collars that stood away from the collarbone to give a swanlike appearance" and shortened "bracelet" sleeves.  His often spare, sculptural creations—including funnel-shape gowns of stiff duchess satin worn to acclaim by clients such as Pauline de Rothschild, Bunny Mellon, Marella Agnelli, Gloria Guinness and Mona von Bismarck—were considered masterworks of haute couture in the 1950s and 1960s. Jackie Kennedy famously upset John F. Kennedy for buying Balenciaga's expensive creations while he was President because he feared that the American public might think the purchases too lavish. Her haute couture bills were eventually discreetly paid by her father-in-law, Joseph Kennedy.

Balenciaga is now owned by the Gucci Group (PPR), and its womenswear and menswear is headed by Nicolas Ghesquière.  Today, the brand is also famous for its line of motorcycle-inspired handbags, especially the famous "Lariat". Balenciaga currently owns only two boutiques in the United States their U.S. headquarters in New York on W 22nd St. as well as a store in Honolulu. They currently are in the process of leasing a spot in the Mandarin Oriental in Boston which is to open in Summer of 2008. Balenciaga opened a boutique at the end of 2006 in Bangkok.       Back to top


Chanel revolutionized haute couture fashion by completely replacing the traditional corset with the comfort and casual elegance of simple suits and dresses. She introduced to the world her signature cardigan jacket in 1925 and signature “little black dress” in 1926, introducing a more sultry and seductive definition to “sexy.” She had numerous other major successes that changed the fashion industry including the ever popular "'Chanel suit'", an elegant creation composed of a knee-length skirt and trim, boxy jacket, traditionally made of woven wool with black sewing trim and gold buttons, worn with large costume-pearl necklaces. Elite women of high societies around the world began to flock to the now legendary Rue Cambon boutique to commission couture outfits from her. The House of Chanel became an icon of elegance and from then on, the name “Chanel” became synonymous to elegance, wealth, and elitism, as well as the ultimate sign of French high class, la coquetterie.

 The House of Chanel, under the leadership of Karl Lagerfeld, has defined the style and fashion of Chanel as being the five essentials: audacious, perfectionist, unique, passionate, and visionary.       Back to top

Christian Dior

Christian Dior (January 21, 1905 October 23, 1957), was an influential French fashion designer. He was born in Granville, Manche, Normandy, France.

Under his parents' wishes he attended his parents Ecole des Sciences Politiques from 1920 to 1925. The family had hopes he would become a diplomat, but Dior only wished to be involved in the arts. After leaving school he received money from his father so that in 1928 he could open a small art gallery in Darfur. Under his father's compromise for the money, the family name did not appear on the gallery. The walls were covered with the likes of Pablo Picasso and Max Jacob. After a family disaster he was forced to shut down the gallery. In 1929 Dior had a son that he named John Christian Dior. In the 1930s Dior made a living by doing sketches for Haute Couture Houses. In 1938 he worked with Robert Piguet. In 1945 he designed for Marcel Boussac. Boussac, a man who had made his fortune from fabric, was interested in Dior's new idea that involved using lots of layers of extravagant fabrics. Dior's first collection, Corolle Line, premiered in 1947. He established his main fashion house in 1949; Christian Dior New York, Inc.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, May 11, 1962. Mrs. Kennedy wears candy pink silk-dupioni shantung gown designed by Guy Douvier for Christian Dior.

The actual phrase the "New Look" was coined by Carmel Snow, the powerful editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar. Dior's designs were more voluptuous than the boxy, fabric-conserving shapes of the recent World War II styles, influenced by the rations on fabric. He was a master at creating shapes and silhouettes; Dior is quoted as saying "I have designed flower women." His look employed fabrics lined predominantly with percale, boned, bustier-style bodices, hip padding, wasp-waisted corsets and petticoats that made his dresses flare out from the waist, giving his models a very curvaceous form. The hem of the skirt was very flattering on the calves and ankles, creating a beautiful silhouette. Initially, women protested because his designs covered up their legs, which they had been unused to because of the previous limitations on fabric. There was also some backlash to Dior's genius form due to the amount of fabrics used in a single dress or suit, but opposition ceased as the wartime shortages ended. His designs represented consistent, classic elegance, and stressed femininity. The New Look revolutionized women's dress and reestablished Paris as the center of the fashion world after World War II.       Back to top

Christian Lacroix

In early childhood, Lacroix attended bullfighting events and enjoyed Gypsy and Provencal traditions as well. He spent time at art museums and enjoyed reading books from the attic. In his youth, he also took a liking to Oscar Wilde and the Beatles. After studying Art History at the University of Montpellier, he went on to the Sorbonne and the Ecole du Louvre in 1973. His aspiration during this time was to become a museum curator. It was during this time he met his future wife Françoise.

In 1987 he opened his own couture house. He began putting out ready-to-wear in 1988 drawing inspiration from diverse cultures. Critics commented that he did not seem to understand the type of clothing the working woman needed. In 1989, Lacroix launched jewelry, handbags, shoes, glasses, scarves and ties (along with ready-to-wear). In this same year, he opened boutiques within Paris, Arles, Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse, London, Geneva and Japan.

He is known for his theatrical style which came from his work while in the theatre. This usually shows up with his use of colour in the collections he designs. Along with this, he is also known for his 'le pouf' gown (featuring the ball skirt), as well as closing all his haute couture fashion shows with a model dressed up as a bride.

Today, Lacroix has 60 points of sale within France (department stores included). Around the world, Lacroix has 1,000 total points of sale.       Back to top

Elie Saab

Elie Saab (Arabic: إيلي صعب) (born July 4, 1964), sometimes known simply as 'ES', is a Lebanese fashion designer.  In 1982, Saab launched his own Beirut-based fashion label when he was just 18 years old. His main workshop is in Lebanon, a country to which he remains deeply attached. He also has workshops in Milan and Paris.

Saab is self-trained. He started sewing as a child and knew that one day he would make a living out of it. In 1981 he moved to Paris to study fashion, but ended up returning and opening his workshop in 1982. In 1997 Saab was the first non-Italian designer to become a member of the Italian Camera Nazionale della Moda, and in 1997, showed his first collection outside Lebanon in Rome. In 1998, he started ready-to-wear in Milan, and in the same year, he held a fashion show in Monaco which was attended by Princess Stephanie. He gained notoriety after he became the first Lebanese designer to dress an Oscar winner, Halle Berry, in 2002.  In May 2003, the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture invited him to become a member, and he showed his first haute couture collection in Paris in July 2003. His first ready-to-wear collection in Paris was the Spring-Summer 2006 collection, and Paris is now his permanent ready-to-wear runway.

Some people seen in ES fashion:   Beyoncé Knowles , Catherine Zeta-Jones , Charlize Theron , Diane Kruger , Debra Messing , Eva Longoria , Fairuz , Halle Berry , Jessica Simpson , Kelly Rowland , Kelly Preston , Marcia Cross , Michelle Williams , Nawal Al Zoghbi , Nicolette Sheridan , Patricia Heaton , Queen Rania of Jordan , Salma Hayek , Teri Hatcher        Back to top

Emanuel Ungaro

Born to Italian parents who had fled to France from Brindisi because of the fascist Italian government. As a young boy, Emanuel Ungaro took to sewing like his father, Cosimo

At the age of 22, he moved to Paris and three years later, he began designing for the House of Cristobal Balenciaga for three years before quitting to work for Courrèges. Four years later, in 1965, Emanuel Ungaro opened his own fashion house in Paris.  In 1988, at the age of 55, he married Laura Bernabei.

In 1968, he created his first pret-a-porter collection, Parallèle and opened a boutique at 2, avenue Montaigne in Paris. During the next 30 years, the Emanuel Ungaro House expanded to include boutiques and licencing agreements worldwide.  In 1996, he formed a partnership with Salvatore Ferragamo. In 1997, Emanuel Ungaro, Salvatore Ferragamo and Bulgari created a new company: Emanuel Ungaro Parfums. The new perfumes to follow was Fleur de Diva (1997), Desnuda (2001) and Apparition (2004).

In 2005 the brand Emanuel Ungaro was sold to Pakistan-born internet tycoon, Asim Abdullah head of Global Asset Capital Investment Bank. At the time, the total wholesale revenue of products sold under the Ungaro label through licensing deals was approximately € 70 million.       Back to top

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani was born in Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna. He originally trained in Medicine, then gave it up to pursue photography, before being called up for national service in 1957. He then worked in a department store, La Rinascente, as a window dresser. From 1961 to 1970, Armani worked as a designer in well-known fashion house Nino Cerruti, after which he left to pursue freelance work. In 1974, with his partner Sergio Galeotti, he established Giorgio Armani S.p.A. with a menswear label, introducing a womenswear line in 1975. His sister Rosanna Armani joined him in the company; Galeotti died in 1985. Giorgio Armani is also known as being a fan of Inter Milan. In fact, according to reports, in 2006 there was a possibility that he would be new Inter's president. He is, however, president of the Milan basketball team. He is known today for his clean, tailored lines. He achieved his international breakthrough by tailoring for numerous Hollywood names and especially for Richard Gere in the title role of American Gigolo in 1980. Armani was also noted for building a mansion on the Caribbean island of Antigua, and being among the first designers to ban models with a body mass index (BMI) under 18 (the minimum healthy BMI), after model Ana Carolina Reston starved herself to death due to anorexia nervosa. In January 2007 Armani has become the first designer to broadcast an haute couture fashion show live on the Internet. The haute couture Armani Prive spring/summer 2007 fashion show was broadcast via Microsoft Corporation’s MSN and Cingular cellular phones.       Back to top

Simon Rademan

Simon Rademan was born a couple of years after George Washington, but on the same day : 22 February.   He learned sign language before he could speak either Afrikaans or English, as both his parents were deaf.   With very little wealth as children, he knew instantly that hard work and love should be the foundation of his existence.   After matriculating, he left the beautiful town, Ceres, to complete his 2 year military obligation at Voortrekkerhoogte in Pretoria and Cape Town.

Simon understood that working in a bank for five years would afford him the opportunity to save money and to experiment with different part-time courses.   He studied drama and starred in 12 plays (e.g.. Joseph and his amazing Technicolor dream coat).   Art, Graphic art, Make-up, Hairstyling, Modeling and Paint techniques are some of the courses that prepared him for what he always knew would set his soul free.   His designs for the female form would one day stop traffic!  His incredible quest for destiny started at the International Academy of Fashion in Gauteng, where he majored in Pattern Design, Textiles and Creative Styling.  Right from the start his designs earned the respect and admiration of those he came into contact with.  He registers Simon Rademan Fashion Design Studio as a cc, and opens the door of a design house that continues to inspire and set new trends.   His clients range from businesswomen to celebrities, from matric-ladies to those who fall in love and get married.

After more than a decade in the fashion industry, Simon Rademan undoubtedly became one of the most respected fashion guru's in the south of Africa, and his reputation as a creative stylist reaches far beyond expectations. . His opinion about beauty, style and etiquette is highly sought after by individuals, trendsetters, and fashionistas.  His reputation as a talent scout and being courageous in his opinion allowed him to be appointed as a national judge for ambassadorial competitions such as Miss SA, Miss SA Campus, Fashion TV, Miss Teen (JIP), Mrs SA, and many, many more competitions.
He specializes in exclusive, exquisite wedding dresses for local and international clients.  Brides feel and look beautiful and chic in his simple yet (sometimes) richly embellished robes.  They consider a Simon Rademan as a “must have” rather that “a would like to have”, thus making him a leading specialist in his field.

Through hard work, determination and an inborn enthusiasm to make women look their best, he receives various nominations and awards and appears on television programs, in newspapers and leading magazines which begin to honor his natural insight into fashion.   He achieves further recognition from the public by appearing in a crossword puzzle as an outstanding couturier! Simon Rademan celebrates 18 years in an industry that he absolutely adores.   His medley of styles is a tribute to all who supports him, and an inspiration to those joint in the fashion arena.   He believes that “the ultimate in living is to respect and love yourself and to share that feeling with every single person that touches your life”.

His life’s motto is strongly personified by the words of JRR Tolkien:  "All that is gold, does not glitter...all those who wonder, aren't lost.  The old who are strong, do not wither, and deep roots are not reached by the frost."       Back to top


At 17 Valentino moved to Paris to pursue this interest with the help of by his mother Teresa de Biaggi and his father Mauro Garavani. There he studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne.

His first Paris choice was Jacques Fath, then Balenciaga. He then found apprentice jobs with Jean Desses where he used to help style icon countess Jacqueline de Ribes sketch her dress ideas. He then joined Guy Laroche for 2 years. At Desses, Valentino sketched furiously, between helping with window dressing and greeting clients for the daily 2:30 p.m. private showings. Most of his early sketches were lost. At a Rome exhibition in 1991 a smattering went on display and current clients at that time such as Marie Hélène de Rothschild and Elizabeth Taylor marveled that the DNA of Valentino's style was already apparent in the layers of white pleats and animal prints.

After five years, Valentino left Jean Desses under a cloud over an incident about prolonging a vacation in St. Tropez that still makes him wriggle uncomfortably today. Rescued by his friend Guy Laroche, he joined his "tiny, tiny" fashion house. Anyway just when he had been offered the French equivalent of a green card and after discussions with his parents, he decided to return to Italy and set up in Rome in 1959.

Valentino's international debut took place in 1962 in Florence, the Italian fashion capital of the time. His first show at the Pitti Palace was welcomed as a true revelation and the young couturier was submerged by orders from foreign buyers and enthusiastic comments on the press.

Today Valentino's clothes can be seen on the most sophisticated and elegant women in the world, from Nicole Kidman to Gwyneth Paltrow to Halle Berry, without forgetting many royal princesses such as Máxima of the Netherlands, Mette-Marit of Norway and Marie-Chantal of Greece.       Back to top

Yves Saint-Laurent

Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent (born August 1, 1936 in Oran, Algeria), was a French fashion designer.  He sadly passed away on 1 June 2008.  The son of an insurance-company manager Yves Henri Donat Mathieu Saint Laurent was born on the 1st of August 1936 in Oran, Algeria. Saint Laurent left home at the age of 17 to work for the French designer Christian Dior. Following Dior's death in 1957, Yves at the age of 21 was put in charge of the effort of saving the Dior house from financial ruin.

Shortly after this success he was conscripted to serve in the French army during the Algerian war of independence. After 20 days the stress of being hazed by fellow soldiers led the fragile Saint Laurent to be institutionalized in a French mental hospital, where he underwent psychiatric treatment, including electroshock therapy, for a nervous breakdown.

In 1962, in the wake of his nervous breakdown, Saint Laurent was released from Dior and started his own label, YSL, financed by his lover, Pierre Bergé. (The couple split romantically in 1976 but remained business partners.) During the 1960s and 1970s the firm popularized fashion trends such as the beatnik look, tweed suits, tight pants and tall, thigh-high boots, including the creation of arguably the most famous classic tuxedo suit for women in 1966, Le Smoking suit. He is the first, in 1966, to popularize ready-to-wear in an attempt to democratize fashion, with Rive Gauche and the boutique of the same name. He is also the first designer to use black models in his runway shows.

Among his muses were Loulou de La Falaise, the daughter of a French marquis and an Anglo-Irish fashion model, Betty Catroux, the half-Brazilian daughter of an American diplomat and wife of a French decorator, Talitha Pol-Getty, who died of drug overdose in 1971, and Catherine Deneuve, the iconic French actress. Ambassador to the couturier during the late 1970s and early 80s was London socialite millionairess Diane Boulting-Casserley Vandelli, making the brand ever more popular amongst the European jet-set and upper classes. He was also inspired by his love of the writer Proust and Mademoiselle Chanel.

In 1983, he became the first living fashion designer to be honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 1993, the Saint-Laurent fashion house was sold to the pharmaceuticals company Sanofi for approximately $600,000,000. In 1999, Gucci bought the YSL brand and Tom Ford designed the ready-to-wear collection while Saint-Laurent designed the haute couture collection. Since his retirement in 1998 Saint-Laurent has become increasingly reclusive and has spent a much of his time at his house in Marrakech, Morocco.  In 2001 he was awarded the rank of Commandeur of the Légion d'Honneur by French president Jaques Chirac.

The following year, dogged by years of poor health, drug abuse, depression, alcoholism, criticisms of YSL designs, and problems with lead designer Tom Ford, Saint-Laurent and Gucci closed the illustrious couture house of YSL. While the house no longer exists, the brand still survives through its parent company Gucci. He also created a museum with his friend Pierre Bergé in Paris to trace the history of the house of YSL, complete with 15,000 objects and 5,000 pieces of clothing.

The prêt-à-porter line is still being produced under the direction of Stefano Pilati after Tom Ford retired in 2004, while the boxer briefs sold all over the world still carry the brand name.       Back to top

Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin is a fashion designer. He was born on July 7, 1922, near Venice, Italy, to French parents. He moved to Paris in 1945. There he studied architecture and worked with Paquin after the war. Work with Schiaparelli followed until he became head of Christian Dior's tailleure atelier in 1947, but was denied work at Balenciaga. He founded his own house in 1950 and began with haute couture in 1953. Cardin was known for his avant-garde style and his space age designs. He prefers geometric shapes and motifs, often ignoring the female form. He advanced into unisex fashions, sometimes experimental, and not always practical. He introduced the "bubble dress" in 1954.

Cardin was the first couturier to turn to Japan as a high fashion market when he travelled there in 1959.  In 1959, he was expelled from the Chambre Syndicale for launching a ready-to-wear collection for the Printemps department store as the first couturier in Paris, but was soon reinstated. However, he resigned from the Chambre Syndicale in 1966 and now shows his collections in his own venue, the Espace Cardin (opened 1971) in Paris, formerly the Théâtre des Ambassadeurs, near the American Embassy. The Espace Cardin is also used to promote new artistic talents, like theater ensembles, musicians, etc.  Cardin was a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture et du Prêt-à-Porter and of the Maison du Haute Couture from 1953 to 1993. Like many other designers today, Cardin decided in 1994 to show his collection only to a small circle of selected clients and journalists.

He purchased Maxim's restaurants in 1981 and soon opened branches in New York, London, and Beijing (1983). A chain of Maxim's Hotels are now included in the assets. Cardin has also licenced a wide range of food products under that name.

He is also mentioned in a Jonathan Richman song called "Everyday        Back to top

Main sources:  The numerous books I have about my favourite subjects

Definition of Haute Couture -  Hi-Fashion garments (of which only a single price is produced) It’s extravagant, it’s irrational, it’s Unique and it’s totally unaffordable. 

   During a consultation, our aim is to show you the possibilities of looking your best!   Knowledge is power!   We shamelessly share information with you and enable you to experience the splendour of looking your best at all times!   Should you want this information at hand, at all times, we now have selected information available regarding the following: Wardrobe-planning, Figure analysis, The little black no., How Simon Rademan lost 35kg, and The Elements of Fashion.

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