The Haute Couture Atelier: The Artisans of Fashion

Image of Haute Couture Ateliers: The Artisans of Fashion
Release Date: 
November 25, 2014
Vendome Press
Reviewed by: 

If there has ever been the question as to whether or not fashion should be considered an art form then The Haute Couture Atelier: The Artisans of Fashion surely makes the case.  

Just about one year ago there was another volume published, Master Artisans of the Grands Ateliers de France, which also examined the players behind the scenes in 21st century haute couture. This latest tome is as much educational, informative, and enlightening as it is entertaining and visually stimulating.

“Whether they specialize in feathers, leathers, artificial flowers, beads, buttons or costume jewelry, they all wanted to be close to the great couturiers . . . without their valuable support, it would not be possible to work.” 
—Hubert de Givenchy.

Farnault provides us with so much insight and information as to more than satisfy even the most seasoned and curious of fashion readers. As has been said many times concerning many different subjects, “the usual cast of characters” is not present here but by no means does that make these designers, craftspeople, and ateliers any less essential or emblematic to the world of haute couture as more familiar names. If anything the highly selective and personal choices are what make this book such a treasure.

For true fashionphiles, this book opens up a world that might be unbeknownst to many, and an incredible fairy tale of sorts. Farnault explains to us, in limited but very self-explanatory verbiage, what each of these entities stands for as well as their amazing heritage, providing just enough information to fully comprehend their importance within this rarefied world.

So we are not told of Lesage or Lemarie, names so readily associated with haute couture, but instead we are introduced to Lanel, Vermont, and Duvelleroy.

What the reader is able to take away is that these businesses are part of a microcosm of fashion operating within the highest echelons, and that such workmanship exists with so few craftsmen. Not only can these firms transform the wildest dreams of their creators into reality but each and every business has a long heralded history of being at the top of their game. Each one refuses to allow their art/talents to die and has ensured that their legacies are perpetuated.

On a surface fashion level, The Haute Couture Atelier: The Artisans of Fashion is a sort of master’s degree for those of us who have more than just a basic understanding of this world. For the less experienced undergraduates, if you will, this book clearly demonstrates and explains that fashion has roots and history and is not just about the next trend or the latest skirt length. The photography is exemplary and extremely helpful in grasping the import of each of these areas of expertise.