Parisian Haute Couture history

In the first part of this series I highlighted the key events of the first 100 hundred years of Parisian Haute Couture, through business strategies and artisanal work.

In this second part we continue to travel along the timeline of the Haute Couture’s history uncovering little known facts and curiosities about the making of the fashion shows we witness today.

1965 During his fashion show, Courrèges showed  three collections: “Prototype”  for Haute Couture, “Couture Future” for  Ready-to-Wear and “Hyperbole” for knit-wear.

1966 Courregès opened his first Ready-to-Wear shop in Paris.  Pierre Cardin showed his collection in the streets.  Yves Saint Laurent set up the label Saint Laurent Rive Gauche with his partners: Mendès, Didier Grumbach and Pierre Bergé.

1968 Cristobal Balenciaga closed his Maison

1969 The government gave new funds to the couturiers, in order to buy French textiles for their collections.

1972 Four couturiers – Yves Saint Laurent, Courrèges, Cardin and Nina Ricci- decided to show one winter Ready-to-Wear and Haute Couture collection, while Yves Saint Laurent left the scene.

1973 The Ready-to Wear designers finally had their own “Chambre Syndacale”, with its own president:  Pierre Bergé.

1976 The Maison Chanel signed its first License Agreement with Mendès.

1982 The Culture Minister, Jack Lang, established the “Chambre Syndacale du Pret-à-Porter” headquartered at the Carrée du Louvre.

1989 Bernard Arnault bought the majority of LVMH group, whose portfolio included  companies such as  Christian Dior, Givenchy, Lacroix and Cèline.

1991 French economy minister Strauss-Kahn appointed  a committee in order to update the status of Haute Couture.

1994 The youngest couturiers could submit only 25 creations per collection.

1997 Thierry Mugler and Jean-Paul Gaultier were invited to take part to the Haute Couture fashion’s calendar.

1998 Didier Grumbach became President of the “Chambre Syndacale de la Couture”.

2000 Mario Boselli, the president of Italian “Camera della Moda”, signed an agreement with Didier Grumbach.

2001 The term Haute Couture has been updated.  New members can be part of the “Chambre Syndacale” as the high- quality standards of the past have been changed.  The couturier is not required to have an atelier, as what matters are high-quality products, number of creations and advertising. The couturier has to prove his work through the interest of his clients and of the press.  French couturiers can also develop  brand new collections for the Asian market: Japan in particular  is the country where  French couture brands are more focused  to increase the sales of their creations.

2004 Italian, French and American designers launched an awareness campaign to stop the counterfeiting market and support their intellectual property rights.

2005 Few fashion brands showed their ready-to-wear collections during the Haute Couture Fashion week, in order to prevent counterfeiting. The clothes have been already produced and they’re going to be sold after the shows, becoming an accelerator for the market.

2007 Constitution of the “Féderation” for the French high fashion, ready-to-wear and for French fashion designers. Bruno Pavlovsky (Chanel), Guillaume de Seynes (Hermès), Ralph Toledano (Jaen-Paul Gaultier), Sideny Toledano (Dior Couture) and Paul Deneve (Yves Saint Laurent) are part of this “Féderation”, which has to improve the business of French ateliers and care about their artisanal crafts, which can only be found in France.


In time this story will have other steps and chapters: there is a world behind fashion shows and fashion weeks, a world of people working to make everything happen. Tailors, designers, shoemakers, embroiderers, modellers, milliners and many others have a gift, a treasure in their hands, which has to be kept alive for future generations.