Paris Haute Couture
Olivier Saillard, Anne Zazzo, Musée de la mode de la ville de Paris
Flammarion, 2012 - Design - 287 pages
A comprehensive history of high fashion in Paris from Madame Grès and Balenciaga to Yves Saint Laurent and Yohji Yamamoto, spanning all aspects from clothing and accessories to perfume. Ever since Charles Frederick Worth dressed the Empress Eugénie in the 1860s, launching a "golden century" of dressmaking, Parisian haute couture has been a source of endless admiration and fascination. Its emphasis on exquisite design and meticulous craftsmanship has put it at the forefront of the fashion industry, in terms of its influence and its indisputable sublimation of fashion to an art form. The relevance and practices of haute couture may have evolved over time, but the work of many contemporary couturiers reveals a strong sense of continuity with the achievements of their predecessors, from the creations of Paul Poiret, Jeanne Lanvin, and Christian Dior, through to their modern counterparts in Christian Lacroix, Jean-Paul Gaultier, or Viktor & Rolf. This chronological study traces the history of the esteemed couture houses of Paris, examining the role of the designer and the extraordinary craftsmanship behind the finished creations, the importance of haute couture in Parisian culture, and its influence in the wider international fashion industry. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between haute couture and the client, as well as the dualities present in modern haute couture--its sense of exclusivity and quasi-mythical aura countered by an ever-increasing reach into popular consciousness and attainability, through perfumes, branding, and the media spectacle of fashion shows. This volume is richly illustrated with images of the most superb pieces created by truly exceptional designers. Various incarnations of Chanel's timeless, classic quilted handbag, Fath's charmingly-patterned silk scarves, and Poiret's elegant perfume bottles demonstrate that haute couture encompasses far more than just clothing. From the delicate embroidery on a Worth garment, to the graceful silhouette of Dior's ballgowns, to the sculptural creations of Madame Grès and their modern echoes in the work of Yohji Yamamoto, Parisian haute couture is a constantly evolving art. Fascinating archival photographs invite the reader through the doors of these exclusive Paris establishments into the showrooms and ateliers of the master couturiers, allowing us to glimpse the alluring, refined, and rarely-seen world that is Parisian haute couture.
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