Demi-Couture--a Hot Trend in Clothing Design

by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

September 6, 2006

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Demi-couture is emerging as a major development in clothing design, writes Mark Holgate in Vogue's July 2006 issue. What is it and how is it changing careers in fashion?

Holgate defines demi-couture as "...somewhere between industrially produced designer fashion (the pret-a-porter, or ready-to-wear) and clothes created entirely by hand and after three fittings with a client (the haute couture)." It's a big deal, and here's why.

Why Demi-couture Clothing Design?
Demi-couture provides an opportunity for clothing designers to begin making more artfully designed and crafted pieces for a larger number of fashion connoisseurs. If you have the money, you'll be able to buy these pieces off the rack--that alone means much more than a single piece will be produced. And what designer wouldn't want to design a $20,000 cashmere coat over a $100 cotton baby-doll dress that's been done a thousand times before?

Clothing Designers Devoted to Demi-couture
Naturally, top designers are the ones most likely to be producing demi-couture. Some of those Holgate listed include Nicolas Ghesquiere of Balenciaga, Olivier Theyskens of Rochas, and Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. There are many others, however, with high-profile careers in fashion taking advantage of this new opportunity, which some may surely recognize as an important emerging segment of the fashion market.

With prices like $12,500 for a silk-charmeuse dress with hand-tucked pleats and $101,370 for a dress adorned with velvet ribbon embroidery, there appears to be great financial rewards associated with careers in fashion that involve demi-couture. (Not that considerable time isn't invested in these pieces, what with some pieces requiring as many as 300 hours of labor, according to Holgate).

Fashion School for Demi-couture
Can you learn about demi-couture in during fashion school? The short answer is maybe, depending on which fashion school you attend. Not all will focus on this laborious pursuit. Most fashion schools will probably still focus on what the majority of those with careers in fashion do, which is clothing design for everyday people, rather than the Melania Trumps, Lauren Bushes, and Tinsely Mortimers of the world.

So get jumping on your career in demi-couture fashion and start learning about the fine art of hand-made pieces of utter luxury.

About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer specializing in career development and postsecondary education.

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