Defining Couture: An Ancient Art Form
Many people believe the common misconception that couture simply means a garment is handmade. While this is somewhat true, it’s a very vague definition of the word. We asked brand to trust Gyunel Couture to what couture actually means and how the art form is evolving.
What does it mean?
By definition, ‘couture’ refers to fashion that is constructed by hand from start to finish. Pieces are made from high quality and often unusual fabric, sewn with extreme attention to detail by the most experienced sewers, often using intricate and time-consuming techniques.
Aside from the fact that it can take anywhere from 100 to 700 hours to create a single piece, there’s so much more to the term than simply ‘handmade’. It’s these other details that give couture items so much prestige in the eyes of fashion lovers.
How has the industry evolved in recent years?
Since Yves Saint Laurent paved the way in the 1960s, the rise of ready-to-wear as luxury fashion has called into question whether or not couture is redundant. Museums are archiving ready-to-wear just as readily they are high fashion, leaving the designers who create both in a complicated position. So how are designers keeping up with trends?
Generally, a storied brand has two types of heritage: iconography and spirit. Some of the oldest houses have benefitted the most from designers that take the aesthetic in a new direction, as Karl Lagerfeld does at Chanel, or Raf Simons did at Dior. Although keeping in tune with a brand’s personality is important, fashion is an ever-changing entity, and evolution must happen if a label wants to remain relevant.
What does being a couture house mean to Gyunel?
Gyunel’s embroidery artisans have spent years perfecting their craft using age-old skills handed down from generation to generation. Each piece is handmade in London at the House’s Knightsbridge atelier with painstaking attention to detail.
“Intricately-detailed customized fabrics, unique hand-dyed silks and structured silhouettes have become my signature elements, often featuring delicate hand embroidery that takes up to several hundred hours of work to make,” says Founder and Creative Director Gyunel. “Each design starts off being inspired as I do my paintings and is then transported from canvas to a fairy tale-esque reality that brings my creative vision to life. My atelier team then shapes every element of the design process, with meticulous consultation and fittings being integral parts of the experience.”
What’s the future of couture?
As fashion coverage migrates online, collections have become more ephemeral than ever before. The increasing speed of consumption challenges the couture industry because the depth of detail in these pieces isn’t meant to be appreciated instantaneously.
However, demi-couture is a sustainable concept and it’s arguable that consumers would be willing to pay higher prices for better quality garments; as a result, a modified version of couture could become a commercially viable option.
Couture is still evolving, and we’re seeing a rise of younger clients from all over the world who are vehemently sustaining the art. As long as they exist, couture is guaranteed never to lose its magic touch.
Learn more about Gyunel Couture
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If you’ve enjoyed this, you might like reading House of Garrard Q&A: The Ultimate in Legacy and Luxury, Modern Heritage Brands: Inspired by Tradition, or Questions to Ask Before You Buy a New Handbag.