MAISON DE COUTURE: Literally, a house of fashion. The king of this creative realm is the designer whose Wizards with needles, the craftspeople who report to the premier de atelier are referred to as PETITES Couture houses have two main divisions, concentrated on two different silhouettes. One is dedicated to TAILLEUR (tailoring) . . . . the other to soft-dressmaking, or FLOU.
The equivalent of a writer’s first draft is the designer’s TOILE. Simple, inexpensive fabric is used to make a prototype of the final design.
Silhouette-The basic outline of the clothing on the body or the overall shape of the garment, its shape and outline. “hourglass” “pear” “apple” “bouffant” are some standard silhouette words commonly used. On the runway there’s a translucent screen with a light behind it. Before coming on, the model stands behind it and you can see the shadow outlining the clothes. This is the silhouette of the design, its line, flow, form, proportion and balance.
Silhouette is just one of fashion’s charms; embellishment is another. Couture houses work with specialists in their varied fields, or MÉTIERS, to achieve breathtaking effects, like PLISSAGE (pleating) and FOLDING, which can be applied to garments as far apart as a schoolgirl’s kilt, a Grecian-goddess dress, or a bouffant evening gown.
Another métier highlighted in “Manus x Machina” is DENTELLERIE (lacework). Lace can be as delicate as a spider’s web, but it can also be bejeweled, metallic, or colored. And as Jean Paul Gaultier reminds us, it isn’t the exclusive province of brides.
Garments can be embellished with leather appliqués or made entirely of the material. These days much MAROQUINERIE (leatherwork) is laser-cut.
The highest form of needlework is BRODERIE (embroidery). One type is threadwork . . .
. . . another type makes use of beads and sequins. The famous house of Lesage executed the beading on this Yves Saint Laurent haute couture cape.
All types of feathers, from marabou to coq, are used in PLUMASSERIE (featherwork).
There are many similarities between fashion and flowers besides temporality. Christian Dior, who once described his ideal woman as a “femme fleur,” designed skirts that looked like upside-down tulips. Even if a silhouette is not flowerlike, it can be festooned and made ultra-romantic with the addition of PARURIER FLORAL (artificial flowers).