French Confections

By Sarita Coren
Sarita Coren
Sarita Coren
March 4, 2013 Updated: April 4, 2013

Spring was in the air at the Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2013 shows that took place from Jan. 21 to 24 in Paris. And the runways were decked out in full splendor.

The shows included French as well as Italian designers, such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Giambattista Valli, Giorgio Armani Privé, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, and Valentino.

The Fashion Elite

Haute couture—haute meaning fashionable or high-class; and couture meaning dressmaking, sewing, or needlework—refers to a high-quality garment that is specifically created to fit the wearer.

Today, the term is most often associated with a group of elite members deemed worthy of the title by the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, the Parisian regulating commission that determines which fashion houses are eligible to be true haute couture houses.

The list of qualifying fashion houses has been in flux in recent years due to the increasing expense of production and execution. In 1946, there were 106 fashion houses. As of Paris Haute Couture week, there are 14 members with four corresponding members.

The expectations are high for these exclusive design houses—and they did not disappoint. Several looks already walked off the runway and onto the red carpet at awards ceremonies—think Adele dressed in Valentino couture at this year’s Grammy Awards and Zoe Saldana in Alexis Mabille at the 85th Academy Awards

Garden Themes and Candy Colors

Several designers took their inspiration from springtime, with garden-themed clothing displaying lavish floral embellishments, as at Christian Dior, where delicate color palettes were symbolic of the burgeoning season.

Finer Details

Intricate beading and piping seem a prerequisite at these opulent shows, with standout gowns by Elie Saab and Valentino.

According to reports on websites such as Style and StyleBlazer, notes given to audience members at Valentino said that it took 500 hours of hand-rolling to produce the piping in one of the outfits and 850 hours to embroider an organza jacket and skirt. 

One roller even developed carpal tunnel syndrome during production of the collection, according to the notes.

Floor-Sweeping Capes

Floor-length capes reminiscent of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Tom Ford gown at the 2012 Oscars also graced several collections, as at Zuhair Murad.

With fast fashion rapidly overtaking authentic craftsmanship, the eye candy of Haute Couture week is a true indulgence.