Produce luxurious, made-to-order clothes for select clients.
What does a Couture Designer do?
Besides busts, fashion and economics have little in common. After all, how often have you seen a svelte Model teaching Advanced Econometrics, or a stodgy suit-and-tie type walking the runway in Milan? Unless you’re watching reruns of Win Ben Stein’s Money, or the adult film version of Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School, the answer is probably, “Never.”
Still, clothes and currency share at least one major principle: Like Ronald Reagan believed in trickle-down economics, Couture Designers like Chanel, Christian Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier believe in trickle-down fashion.
Indeed, the fashion industry is shaped like a pyramid. At the bottom, where it’s accessible to everyone, is ready-to-wear, which is off-the-rack clothing sold at malls. At the very top are the Couture Designers.
If you’re a Couture Designer, the center of your universe is France, as the term “haute couture” (French for “high dressmaking”) technically is reserved only for government-approved Fashion Designers that have workshops in Paris, although design houses and retailers worldwide typically call their top luxury lines “couture.”
Whether you’re licensed by the French government or not, your job as a Couture Designer is designing handmade, custom-fit clothing — usually occasion-specific dresses — for über-wealthy private clients, as well as seasonal runway collections. More than that, though, your job is setting trends, as you make sketches that become high-concept dresses, which then star in fashion shows, which ultimately inspire ready-to-wear clothing for the masses.
More simply put: Your clients demand, then you supply. And when you supply, the masses demand. It’s Economics 101 all over again.