Fashion Designer Basics You Will Love
If you’re a long-time reader of fashion like I am, you know it's not the name on the inside that marks you as being well-dressed; it’s how you represent the clothes on the outside that delivers the final verdict. That’s why some people can stop traffic in $40 worth of clothes from Kmart while others languish like wallflowers in $4,000 worth of designer apparel.
So why do I love designer labels? And how can you become designer savvy?
To have a working wardrobe for you, it is always great to build up over the years a few designer pieces to style with cheaper brands for an amazing look. French women have been constructing their wardrobes this way for years. They have small closets full of investment pieces they wear year after year. As I have written in other articles in the style section of Cazinc (worth checking out), your investment pieces are your style items, which you then team up with ready-to-wear fashion items to keep your look up to date.
As you all know I love Australian designer Carla Zampatti. This doesn't mean that my whole wardrobe is full of her products. Over the years I have built up a collection of Carla's clothing, especially blazers and a few dresses, which I wear often. Designer labels are only about 10% of my wardrobe.
By studying the different design houses, you can find the brands that work best for you, so here is a fun read I have put together for you of designers I love around the world.
Let’s start with a couple of definitions.
COTOURE (koo TOOR) is the French word for “sewing.” Couture clothes are those that are fitted and sewn specifically for a client, often requiring several fittings for an exact fit. The clothes are specifically designed for the customer, such as a one-of-a-kind wedding dress or a one-of-a-kind red carpet ensemble, or they may be part of a designer’s couture collection, which are the pieces the fashion designer shows that are available for a custom fit. Couture is also known as made-to-measure or bespoke (British).
READY-TO-WEAR or pret-a-porter (pret a poor TAY) is designer apparel that’s made ready-to-wear in standard sizes and sold through boutiques, better department stress, mail order, and online. While consumers can have pieces tailored to fit after purchase, customization is not included in the cost of ready-to-wear apparel. When people speak of designer brands, they’re most often referring to ready-to-wear.
So now that you know the difference between the two terms, let's take a quick look at the design philosophies of different countries:
ITALIAN designers have a long history of producing fine leather goods – and of lovingly showcasing the human form. If you have a dynamite figure and want your clothes to reflect that, Italian designers like Armani, Versace, Prada, Ferragamo, etc., can help you meet your goal.
FRENCH designers have been trendsetters for centuries, and you’ll find both classic and avant-garde designers here. Whether you seek the eternal chic of Chanel (see the classic Chanel statement suit in the image, still going strong today), Yves Saint Laurent, or Valentino – or something a bit more cutting edge from say, Balenciaga or Christian LA Croix, you can find your fashion fix in Paris.
BRITISH designers have a long tradition of producing classic silhouettes in sumptuous fabrics with an eye towards fit and finish. A visit to Savile Row will prove just how exacting their standards can be. But it's not all pomp and circumstance. From the country that gave us both James Bond and the mini-skirt, you can find updated classics by brands like Burberry or Julien Macdonald – or go wild with the like of Vivienne Westwood or Zandra Rhodes. The choice is yours.
AMERICAN designers made a name for themselves in the 1940’s with quality sportswear, and it’s a tradition that continues today with designers like Ralph Lauren and Anne Klein. But we are not just about leisure time. From the “ladies who lunch” in Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta to the women who work in Donna Karan and Michael Kors, to the “of the moment designs” by Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler, we have a little something for everyone. Take your pick.
AUSTRALIAN designers, like American designers, tend to lean towards the comfortable but fashionable instead of just fashion for fashion's sake. Want contemporary style but comfortable clothes? Try Lisa Ho, Carla Zampatti or Collette Dinnigan on for size.
As you can see, there’s a lot out there – because not all designers create with the same person in mind. Some houses excel in fine apparel, while other prefer contemporary or sportswear lines. So don’t assume that just because of your neighbour, friend or sister bought a certain brand that you should buy that brand too. Everyone’s different. Every design house is different. You need to buy based on how the model's suite YOU. Not the other way around.
So if you intend to spend your hard-earned money on luxury brands, take a little time to find the designers who create with you in mind. Don’t be swayed by the label on the inside; buy for the look it gives you on the outside.
Learn everything you need to know on how to go shopping in "Your Ultimate Style" ebook, available here.
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Have fun researching more about designer clothing now you know more of the basics. Many designer pieces, like the items on at the Dior show in Melbourne at present are pure art. Why not treat yourself to learn how to art you? You are worth it.
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