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A guide to buying and collecting

AFFORDABLE COUTURE

Jemi Armstrong Linda Arroz


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What to know before you go I like my money right where I can see it – hanging in my closet. Candace Bushnell (HBO series ‘Sex in the City’)

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ou’ve made a decision to boost your wardrobe IQ by seeking out some of the most coveted clothing in the fashion world. Perhaps you already own a piece or two. It is wise to learn as much as you can about the designer or couturier who created your garment.

Getting started: do your homework You have made an investment in your wardrobe so investigate the name as you would any investment. Sitting on the sidelines of couture collection shows may still be an elite experience, but the virtual world provides instant gratification as images from the runways of Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo are streamed and tweeted in real time. Prior seasons are archived online as well, allowing for an in-depth view of the designer’s evolution, not to mention a “study guide� for recognizing past works when shopping in vintage or consignment stores to add to your investments. Visit these websites to witness the designer couture collections and ready-to-wear from anywhere on the globe: t 'JSTU7JFX XXXmSTUWJFXDPN

t 4UZMF XXXTUZMFDPN 


20

3

What to know before you go I like my money right where I can see it – hanging in my closet. Candace Bushnell (HBO series ‘Sex in the City’)

Y

ou’ve made a decision to boost your wardrobe IQ by seeking out some of the most coveted clothing in the fashion world. Perhaps you already own a piece or two. It is wise to learn as much as you can about the designer or couturier who created your garment.

Getting started: do your homework You have made an investment in your wardrobe so investigate the name as you would any investment. Sitting on the sidelines of couture collection shows may still be an elite experience, but the virtual world provides instant gratification as images from the runways of Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo are streamed and tweeted in real time. Prior seasons are archived online as well, allowing for an in-depth view of the designer’s evolution, not to mention a “study guide� for recognizing past works when shopping in vintage or consignment stores to add to your investments. Visit these websites to witness the designer couture collections and ready-to-wear from anywhere on the globe: t 'JSTU7JFX XXXmSTUWJFXDPN

t 4UZMF XXXTUZMFDPN 


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AFFORDABLE COUTURE

Turning your garment inside out will truly expose the value of your piece. Noted American designer James Galanos’ use of quality fabrics and thoughtful garment cuts and construction have made him a living MJOLCFUXFFOUIF'SFODIDPVUVSFUSBEJUJPOBOE"NFSJDBOSFBEZUPXFBS Today’s Ralph Rucci is the first American designer since Mainbocher to design ready-to-wear as well as being invited to show as an individual designer on the haute couture schedule.

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WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

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details will feature small, hand stitches. Consider the closures and fasteners: Observe tiny details such as small covered snaps and hook and eye fasteners. Hooks and eyes are used in waistbands, necklines and garment openings as additional insurance for a smooth fit. Covered snaps are often used to make lingerie strap guards, which prevent the bra strap from slipping. Buttonholes will be hand stitched or bound with fabric. Buttons will be covered with fabric or made of natural materials. Zippers have been used in couture since the early 1900s, but nylon zippers weren’t introduced until the 1960s. A nylon zipper in a vintage couture garment will be an indicator of some alteration or repair.

CHECKLIST: CONSTRUCTION DETAIL

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Turn the garment inside out. Look for obvious indications of alterations such as uneven stitching or a repair. *OTQFDUUIFIFNUPTFFIPXNVDIGBCSJDJTJOUIFTFBNBMMPXBODF'BDJOHNBZ be used to keep the hem stiff and hanging away from the body. Chanel suits traditionally have a gold metal chain weight at the jacket hem to ensure that the garment hangs smoothly. Some dresses or skirts may also have weighted hems. Examine seams and darts. In couture construction, these are stitched down for additional stability as well as to eliminate bulk and maintain a smooth line in the outer garment. Couture garments have more darts and seams in places like the underarm, bust and waist to add more ease and a custom fit. The seam allowance edge is often finished with seam binding for a neat appearance and to prevent fabric from raveling. Study the additional layers of construction. A suit jacket or dress might have interfacing in the front to stabilize the shape, and in older garments, flannel patches were often added for warmth. A cocktail dress may have a boned bodice, or corset-like infrastructure, to provide a foundation for strapless gowns or tops. All of these

As you inspect your garment inside out, you will notice the sheer perfection, thought and effort paid to the inside, which only the wearer will see. If it’s not perfect inside, the garment isn’t or it has been altered or repaired. Seam finishes and seam allowances are primary qualifiers for quality level. Hem allowances are generous, often at least two inches or more. Seam allowances should be at least one-inch. The back hem in couture clothing may be a half-inch longer to balance the overall silhouette and flatter the derriere. The hemline itself may have garment weights inserted to ensure it falls well over the hips and will not pull or rise up. All seams are finished in couture, often by hand. Lapels, collars, cuffs and some waistbands will be interfaced, which helps support the shape. You can usually tell if something has interfacing, as it will feel more solid and structured, not limp or flimsy. Buttonholes are another sign of a couture garment. They are bound and usually hand finished. Buttons will be made from natural materials like leather or abalone, even glass, but not plastic. Often you’ll see custom covered buttons in the same fabric as the garment.

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24

AFFORDABLE COUTURE

Turning your garment inside out will truly expose the value of your piece. Noted American designer James Galanos’ use of quality fabrics and thoughtful garment cuts and construction have made him a living MJOLCFUXFFOUIF'SFODIDPVUVSFUSBEJUJPOBOE"NFSJDBOSFBEZUPXFBS Today’s Ralph Rucci is the first American designer since Mainbocher to design ready-to-wear as well as being invited to show as an individual designer on the haute couture schedule.

3

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

t

details will feature small, hand stitches. Consider the closures and fasteners: Observe tiny details such as small covered snaps and hook and eye fasteners. Hooks and eyes are used in waistbands, necklines and garment openings as additional insurance for a smooth fit. Covered snaps are often used to make lingerie strap guards, which prevent the bra strap from slipping. Buttonholes will be hand stitched or bound with fabric. Buttons will be covered with fabric or made of natural materials. Zippers have been used in couture since the early 1900s, but nylon zippers weren’t introduced until the 1960s. A nylon zipper in a vintage couture garment will be an indicator of some alteration or repair.

CHECKLIST: CONSTRUCTION DETAIL

t t t

t

t

Turn the garment inside out. Look for obvious indications of alterations such as uneven stitching or a repair. *OTQFDUUIFIFNUPTFFIPXNVDIGBCSJDJTJOUIFTFBNBMMPXBODF'BDJOHNBZ be used to keep the hem stiff and hanging away from the body. Chanel suits traditionally have a gold metal chain weight at the jacket hem to ensure that the garment hangs smoothly. Some dresses or skirts may also have weighted hems. Examine seams and darts. In couture construction, these are stitched down for additional stability as well as to eliminate bulk and maintain a smooth line in the outer garment. Couture garments have more darts and seams in places like the underarm, bust and waist to add more ease and a custom fit. The seam allowance edge is often finished with seam binding for a neat appearance and to prevent fabric from raveling. Study the additional layers of construction. A suit jacket or dress might have interfacing in the front to stabilize the shape, and in older garments, flannel patches were often added for warmth. A cocktail dress may have a boned bodice, or corset-like infrastructure, to provide a foundation for strapless gowns or tops. All of these

As you inspect your garment inside out, you will notice the sheer perfection, thought and effort paid to the inside, which only the wearer will see. If it’s not perfect inside, the garment isn’t or it has been altered or repaired. Seam finishes and seam allowances are primary qualifiers for quality level. Hem allowances are generous, often at least two inches or more. Seam allowances should be at least one-inch. The back hem in couture clothing may be a half-inch longer to balance the overall silhouette and flatter the derriere. The hemline itself may have garment weights inserted to ensure it falls well over the hips and will not pull or rise up. All seams are finished in couture, often by hand. Lapels, collars, cuffs and some waistbands will be interfaced, which helps support the shape. You can usually tell if something has interfacing, as it will feel more solid and structured, not limp or flimsy. Buttonholes are another sign of a couture garment. They are bound and usually hand finished. Buttons will be made from natural materials like leather or abalone, even glass, but not plastic. Often you’ll see custom covered buttons in the same fabric as the garment.

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Ten Key Pieces You Should Own Ten Key Pieces You Should Own

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Ten Key Pieces You Should Own Ten Key Pieces You Should Own

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A guide to buying and collecting

Affordable Couture

Jemi Armstrong & Linda Arroz 'SPN1BSJTUP1FPSJB DPVUVSFJTBIPUUPQJD"MNPTUCFGPSFB designer’s runway show is finished, images of the current season’s PGGFSJOHTBSFQPTUFEPOUIFJOUFSOFU'BTIJPONBHB[JOFTOPUPOMZ present designer clothes in fashion layouts, but also show the readers how to get the look for less. Affordable Couture is not about how to recreate the look with what are commonly referred to as knock-offs. This practical guide book will give collectors and enthusiasts a better understanding of the high end designer fashion market, specifically how and where to look for affordable couture, resale couture and high end vintage pieces. The authors offer practical advice about key pieces every wardrobe should have, how to take care of your couture garments and an international directory of where to find couture at a discount in major cities around the world. Affordable Couture is a quick study on how to immerse oneself in the couture world and build up a fabulous collection to where or to archive.

Contents That was then this is now What to know before you go But will it fit? Ten key pieces you should own How to care for your couture wardrobe The collectors Where to shop

This guide is aimed at anyone who is interested in designer fashion and fashion as art, as well as students and individuals who want to know and understand more about buying and collecting high quality designer and vintage pieces.

Specifications YNN ž x 8 �JO

208 pages with 150 illustrations Paperback Recommended retail price: ÂŁ 19.95 | â‚Ź 24.95 | US$ 35.00 31,000 words ISBN 978-1-908126-24-5 September 2012

The authors Jemi Armstrong is a well-known fashion illustrator, author and QSPGFTTPS)FSCPPLTJODMVEF1FODJMUP1FO5PPMBOE'BTIJPO Illustration. She is a sought-after costume illustrator for film and TV. Linda Arroz is a lifestyle and image consultant whose expertise includes fashion, fitness, wellness and beauty. She has appeared on hundreds of TV shows including Good Morning America and Entertainment Tonight, sharing tips and trends.

Key features * Clear guidance on where and how to buy couture * Useful tips on caring for your garments * Suggestions for key pieces you should own * International shopping guide

VIVAYS PUBLISHING LTD

www.vivays-­publishing.com

Affordable Couture  

Clear and practical guidance on where and how to buy women's couture.