Do you use the term ‘couture technique’? I’ve never really used it – in fact, I’m not exactly sure what one is! From blog reading and library books I have a general idea, but I am hesitant to use the term without knowing what the true definition is – and is there one?
These are my random thoughts and questions on the subject – they are not necessarily my opinion. I’m really interested in your thoughts, and hearing what you understand a ‘couture technique’ to be.
- The French word ‘couture’ translates into English as ‘sewing’, so is a couture technique simply a sewing technique? Why then are couture techniques considered in higher regard than ‘ordinary’ sewing techniques?
- In the French Haute Couture system much is sewn by hand – does this mean a couture technique is one that is only sewn by hand? I’m not sure this is correct, as a quick glance at several couture technique sewing books (like the ones above!) reveals that a lot is done by machine, and some techniques are very basic. Is any technique used in Haute Couture a ‘couture technique’ – including sewing on a button?
- Is a couture technique used only in custom made or made to measure garments? When I designed custom bridal, I altered my usual construction order so fittings and adjustments could be more easily made, and due to the nature of the garments I underlined more, used more boning, horsehair and net, and with all that lace and beading there was definitely more hand-sewing! But does that make all these techniques couture, when a ready-to-wear gown could be made in much the same way?
- Is a couture technique the ‘best‘ method? I personally think that there are many ‘best methods’ rather than a single one – and a good designer will have a wide variety of techniques in their arsenal and choose the most appropriate for a particular situation. Sometimes the best method for a hem might be a blind herringbone stitch, sometimes it might be just gluing it!
- Is a couture technique an advanced technique? If so, at what point does a technique become advanced? Who decides this?
- Is a couture technique one used when time is no object? In other words, cost is no object too!
- Is it simply a case of sticking a French word in front to appeal to our inner snob. Sort of like saying ‘faux leather’, when fake leather will do. Maybe it is a handy marketing ploy to imply prestige, sell more product, fancy tools, or books on secret sewing methods?
- I seem to come across the term mostly in an American context – is ‘couture technique’ an American term, and not really used elsewhere in the world?
These are all thoughts I’ve had as I try to come to a definition, and I’m really interested to hear your opinions! What is it that really separates a couture technique from an ordinary sewing technique? What exactly does the term mean to you?