Haute Couture was born during the Second Empire within the Rue de la Paix quarter in the heart of Paris. Englishman Charles-Frédéric Worth opened his house in 1858. He demonstrated his innovation by rejecting the statute of a fashion designer as a "supplier" and embracing that of the designer as a "creator," and by presenting veritable fashion collections worn by models to clients in his luxurious salons. At this time, Paris was filled with small trades devoted to embellishment (embroiderers, feather-workers, button-makers, shoemakers, glove makers, hatters, etc.) and enjoyed a reputation as the only world capital where elegance reigned.

In 1945, very specific rules defined the statutes of Haute Couture. Updated throughout the years, they have survived time, making Haute Couture the absolute reference for a subtle blend of tradition and innovation. The specifications require that original models be designed by the permanent designer of the house. They must be created in its own workshops, which should have a minimum of 20 employees. Each season, on the dates set by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the house must present a collection of at least 35 looks consisting of both day and evening styles.

As a bearer of unique expertise and maintenance of tradition, Haute Couture excels in the perfection of all the details that give it its singular, rare character. It is also a laboratory brimming with ideas and creativity, in which the quality and perfection of its cuts are crystallized in time.

Chanel is currently the oldest operating couture house.

© Photo All Rights Reserved, Chanel ateliers circa 1935