‘Paris Haute Couture: The Only Gown in the World’



Staff Writer

March 4-May 22

Haute couture — high-end clothing produced by leading fashion houses — originated in Paris during the late 19th century when dresses were either homemade or order-made. Only design houses approved by La Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne could describe their garments as haute couture, which were created with top-quality textiles and using the best seamsters. Though founded in France, it was an Englishman, Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895), who established the association, and was the first to present collections of clothing biannually in Paris, take orders for custom-fitted clothing and sew signature labels into garments.

Since the popularity of pret-a-porter, ready-to-wear collections, which began around the 1960s, the demand for haute couture has been in decline. But the culture continues with designers such as Raf Simmons and Karl Lagerfeld still creating elaborate collections.

This exhibition features haute-couture dresses from various influential fashion houses, including Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent (now Saint Laurent).

Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo; 2-6-2 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. Nijubashimae Stn. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Fri. until 8 p.m.). ¥1,700. Closed Mon. 03-5777-8600; www.mimt.jp/paris-hc/eng