Haute Couture Fashion Week: What to know

In order to do so, we’ll do a quick debrief of some of the brands you'll see on the runways at Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris this spring. 

Armani Prive

You already know Emporio Armani, but do you know Armani Prive? Armani Prive is simply the couture line from the Italian fashion house. But let’s take a step back and look at the history of Armani itself. 

The brand was founded in 1975 by Giorgio Armani, who had his beginning in fashion in the 1950s after having served in the army and dropping out of his medical studies. He started out as a window dresser and worked his way to merchandising and buying assistant but through his extensive knowledge of fabric and design, he started as a menswear designer for the clothing company Hitman in 1964. He left this job in 1975 – the same year he started his own menswear label. A year later, he also added his womenswear line. Giorgio is said to have transformed the wardrobes of working women in the 80s as they moved away from floral skirts and into Armani’s chic pantsuits in an array of elegant colors.

Armani was an almost instant hit and at the end of the 90s, the brand had over 200 stores worldwide and a plethora of lines catering to different shoppers – Emporio Armani, Armani Exchange, Armani Jeans, Armani Collezione, Armani Exchange A/X and more! Ever since then, Armani has continued to work on the brand and has added make-up, homegoods, books and even a collaboration of sportswear with Reebok. 

It was in 2005, that the Italian brand decided to debut their first haute couture line, Armani Prive. Giorgio decided this as a response to the demand for bespoke fashion pieces. In 2007, the Italian brand became the first brand to ever stream an haute couture fashion show live on the internet. They did this on MSN which was a step forward for fashion and communication. 

In 2014, Giorgio Armani celebrated his 80th birthday as well as 40 years of his iconic brand. To this day he’s still the sole independent shareholder of the brand.

Photo: lousherer


Schiaparelli is known for their exquisite and extravagant designs so it’s no surprise that the brand is on this list. The history of the brand is just as exciting as its designs, so let’s dive in. 

Elsa Schiaparelli designed her first trompe l’œil (illusion) on a black sweater in 1927. The sweater boasts the illusion of a bow, pierced heart, skeleton or sailor tattoo. This sweater gets quite a lot of attention and ends up becoming the start of Schiaparelli. Not long after the creation of the brand, Schiaparelli decides to launch a fragrance – S. 

Through the years, Schiaparelli collaborated with many artists of all sorts, but the first came about already in 1931. Russian-French writer Elsa Triolet helped Schiaparelli design the iconic Aspirin necklace. Only a year later, Schiaparelli creates her first piece of surrealist accessory. It’s the Mad Cap – a versatile hat that hugs the head and has a pointed tip. The same year, Elsa Schiaparelli covers Time magazine as the first woman designer ever. The article describes her as “one of the arbiters of ultra-modern Haute Couture”.

In 1935, Elsa Schiaparelli collaborated with Dalí for the first time. The pair will go on to work together for many years, sharing their surrealist creations with the world. Another creation from the duo is the Lobster dress, famously worn by Wallis Simpson (who later became the Duchess of Windsor as she married the former King-Emperor Edward VIII).

French Luxury


Elsa Schiaparelli continued to pave the way for modern ready-to-wear and haute couture by giving her 1938 collection a theme: The Zodiac. Because of the war, her collection from 1940, Cash and Carry, was given a utilitarian spin. The many jumpsuits were given large pockets and zips, making them able to hold as much as a handbag normally would. This collection is also the first time camouflage print is included in an haute couture collection. 

In 1947, Hubert de Givency is hired as creative director for the Schiaparelli boutique before he leaves and starts his own couture house. 

The famous tuxedo dress makes its debut in the 1950 haute couture collection and in 1951 Schiaparelli ventures into both eyewear and lingerie. 

Elsa Schiaparelli decided to shut down her couture house in 1954 to focus on her autobiography, A Shocking Life, and her last big hurray was designing the costumes for Zsa Zsa Gabor in the John Houston film Moulin Rouge in 1953. Schiaparelli passed away in 1973. 

The maison reopens in 2012 and its first haute couture runway since 1954 takes place at Paris Fashion Week in 2014. In 2017, the brand was awarded the Haute Couture label by the French Ministry of Industry and the French Couture Federation. Since the brands rebirth, a plethora of stars have been spotted in magnificent designs – Lady Gaga, Taylor Russel, Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid and many more.


Photos: livia_auer & s_lo96

Atelier Versace 

Just like with Armani, we’re sure you know Versace, but what about their haute couture line Atelier Versace? 

Giovanni “Gianni” Versace was always influenced by fashion. His mother was a seamstress and trained him in the art from a young age. He was quickly interested in architecture but decided to pursue fashion at the age of 26 and moved to Milan. He started designing for Byblos – an Italian youth line – in 1973 as well as for another line owned by the same company. This provided him with the success he needed and he presented his first signature women’s collection a few years later which was quickly followed by his first fashion show. He opened his first store in 1978, only five years after his first design job. 

The brand quickly expanded to include jewelry and homeware and in 1989, Gianni Versace decided to start the brand’s haute couture line – Atelier Versace. 

Gianni Versace was tragically shot and killed on the steps of his Miami mansion in 1997 but his legacy lives on. Today, his sister is at the helm of the Versace empire and the brand hasn’t slowed down because of that. Today you’ll see both Versace and Atelier Versace on the biggest red carpets in the world, including the MET Gala.

Photo: The Vintage Bar

Elie Saab 

Elie Saab is every bride's dream when it comes to wedding dresses, but what’s the story behind the ultra-feminine brand? Elie Saab was always determined to be a part of the fashion industry, so he taught himself how to sew at the ripe age of nine years old. He briefly went to design school in Paris, but he was back in his hometown of Beirut in order to start his first brand at the age of 18 in 1982. 

Elie Saab is known for combining western silhouettes with middle eastern flair and Saab’s designs quickly gathered some attention, especially among brides and royal families in the Middle East – Queen Rania of Jordan even wore an Elie Saab dress for her 1999 coronation ceremony. Halle Berry made sure to put Saab on the map in Hollywood as she wore one of his dresses to accept her 2002 Academy Award. 

In 2003, Saab was invited to be a member by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris and he’s still one of the few officially ordained haute couture labels in the world.

Today, you can buy Elie Saab couture designs in the fashion metropoles London, New York and Paris and his ready-to-wear designs are available in over 160 international locations. Elie Saab also sells perfumes and in 2019 he announced his expansion into interior design as well with a collaboration with the real estate company Emaar.

The above are just some examples of fashion houses that’ll be showing their haute couture collections in Paris this spring – we can’t wait to see what they all come up with this season!

Written by Alberte Gram
Alberte Gram is a fashion writer based in London.
The people pictured are not associated with The Archive
or The Vintage Bar, and do not endorse the products shown.