In the last article, we learned how couture was born thanks to King Louis XIV. Louis’s legacy is evident in modern France’s attitude toward fashion; it isn’t a frivolous or trivial industry but an utterly serious one, inseparable from the country’s economic health and national identity.
Paris remains the capital of Haute Couture, there there are the main headquarters – ateliers – of the most important fashion houses, but also the headquarters of the Fédération Française de la Couture, which safeguards the made-to-measure industry. Haute couture is only produced in Paris, by a handful of designers and presented twice a year, in January and July. The pieces are constructed almost entirely by hand, and prices regularly range in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single piece, restricting the couture client base to around 1,000 people worldwide. Haute couture is a legally protected term — and fashion houses are only granted the designation by the French Ministry of Industry.