Haute Couture is the commission of custom clothing designed by the high-end fashion houses, primarily in France. One-of-a-kind garments (typically dresses and gowns) are designed and fitted to a specific client’s measurements and body type. These designs are works of art and expression. In France the term “haute couture” is a protected one. The design house must meet specific and well-defined standards. That’s what makes haute couture and Swarovski such a brilliant pairing.
From the earliest days of Swarovski crystals Daniel Swarovski recognized that he had something very special. As a result, the addition of Swarovski to embellish and complement haute couture seemed quite natural to designers. The ability to work directly with the crystal artisan was particularly inviting to many of the mid-century famed houses of couture and sealed a lifelong relationship. Reportedly, legendary designer Christian Dior commissioned a crystal that would mimic the grandeur and beauty of the Northern Lights. The result? Swarovski’s ever-popular Aurora Borealis effect.
Swarovski & Fashion Design over Years
Design by: Karl Yala
The Early 20th Century
In the early 1900’s an English clothing designer took his craft to Paris and started the first design house. The “Father of Haute Couture”, Charles Frederick Worth enticed the women of upper class with his stunning dresses and gowns. As the trimming of dresses grew to an art form Swarovski crystals were incorporated into the design. As a result, these Swarovski-trimmed glittering statements of wealth and social standing became much sought-after throughout Europe, and the world.
Freedom of The Jazz Age
The 1920’s saw a rich social scene in Paris and haute couture flourished. The Jazz Age ushered in a whole new possibilities for the brilliant pairing of Swarovski and haute couture. It seemed as though embellished flapper style dresses were everywhere, the more sparkle the better. Due to the shapeless sheath style of flapper style dresses the best way to get noticed was by gorgeous embellishments. Paris nights sparkled in radiant Swarovski glow.
The need to see and be seen in the Age of Jazz was not lost on designers of haute couture. Daniel Swarovski’s magnificent and multi-faceted crystals just may have contributed to the Parisian moniker “City of Lights”. The perfect pairing of haute couture and Swarovski crystals soon made it’s way across the pond where every style-conscious Manhattan maven clamored for glitter, glamor and one-of-a-kind dresses.
1950’s Haute Couture and Swarovski
Following the economic depression of the 1930’s and World War II the world, and particularly the U.S. was ready to sparkle once more. Obviously, haute couture and Swarovski paired well. Such fashion phenoms as Cristobal Balenciaga, Elsa Schiaparelli, and the inimitable Coco Chanel, as well as many other clothing artisans celebrated Swarovski embellishments on their designs. A softer, more feminine silhouette was the style of the day and nearly all of the bespoke pieces sported delicate crystal embroidery.
Haute couture and Swarovski have grown in popularity. Today mega-stars who walk the red carpet, along with first ladies on the dance floor at inaugural balls join the social elite in a fondness for one-of-a-kind dazzle. Thus, Swarovski adorned dresses, suits, and gowns are proving all that glitters is most likely Swarovski.
Design by: Karl Yala
Join The Ranks of Royalty
You too can don a worthy impression haute couture and Swarovski no matter your budget. DIY Swarovski embellishments are easy and affordable. After all, the beauty of haute couture is really in the detail, isn’t it? The two most often used application methods in this case are sewing and gluing.
Gluing: The Ease of Swarovski Flat Backs
Swarovski Flat Backs are loose crystal elements with a flat reverse side, as the name suggests. They are available in 2 variations:
- Flat Backs HOTFIX – reverse side of the crystal is coated with a heat-sensitive glue
- Fat Backs NO Hotfix – reverse side of the crystal has no glue on it, so they are being applied to a carrier material by using standard one- or two-component glues
Both Flat Backs HF and No HF are available in a multitude of colors, shapes and sizes. When applied to the material of your choice, they produce a durable and long-lasting crystal effect.
Depending on the design you want to achieve, you will choose one of these 2 categories. For larger surfaces and greater amount of crystals it’s recommended to use Flat Backs Hotfix. You position them on a transfer foil in a desired manner/motif with a flat side facing up. Then turn the foil upside down, together with the crystals (they will stick to the foil, don’t worry) on your garment and apply heat over it. The heat activates the adhesive on the flat back of these crystals, providing a secure hold. In this case, the heat can be generated by a household iron (with the steam shut off) or a heat press. However, for more precise application, and most likely smaller quantities, you can either use a hot fix applicator or simply place Swarovski Flat backs NO HF where you want and glue them on. Voila!
Sewing: Swarovski Crystal Beads and Sew-on Stones
For those who want the classic look of haute couture and Swarovski we also have sew-on stones and crystal beads ideal for sewing on by hand. This method can be time-consuming, however it does provide a high-end look. Some fabrics are more fragile than others and vintage garments especially so, thus the hand-sewing method is preferred.
All Swarovski crystals are available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and as such, they are perfect for creating crystal texture. Now you know which of them are appropriate for textile embellishments and how are they being applied. So go ahead and elevate your elegance in the style of the social elite of Paris’ Golden Age of haute couture and Swarovski.
Karla Yala is a Swiss designer who was born in the Congo and moved to Marseilles as a child. From a young age he had an artistic vision which set him apart from friends and family. He says that he feels free when he is creating and this sense of freedom inspires his innovative designs. His collections showcase Yala’s aesthetic vision of the world, but also provide social commentary on issues like consumption and environmental policies.