How not to get lost in the fashion jungle

The terminology of fashion is a secret language, which is often understandable only to fashion experts and serious fashionista’s. It is easy to lose yourself in today’s fashion world without knowing some basic fashion-related terms.

Haute couture

The term haute couture is used very often when talking about fashion. This word is used to describe custom-fitted clothes made from luxury fabrics beautifully decorated and having an exceptional design. However, this is true only partially. In France, the term haute couture is protected by law and can be used in advertising only by the members of the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture. The list of the members is updated every year.  There are fourteen brand names included in the list which was officially published in 2011; among the other famous names there are Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Elie Saab, Valentino and others. It is difficult to earn the name of the high fashion designer and high standards are applied to the applicants. Fashion house must have an atelier in Paris. At least 15 professional pattern-makers and tailors should work in the atelier.  The clothing should be cut, sewed and decorated by hands. Each season the fashion house must present two collections for spring/summer and autumn/winter. Each collection should include at least 35 models for daytime and evening wear.

High fashion is live for already 150 years. Its father is Charles Frederick Worth who was designer creating exceptionally luxurious clothing. He is also referred to as the king of crinoline.


Practical fashion, which is usually referred to as pret-a-porter or ready-to-wear. This definition is related to the commercial manufacture of clothing and accessories. Unlike the haute couture, pret-a-porter clothing is made in thousands of units, can be sewed easy and quick, and correspond to the common fashion trends, standard figure sizes and the taste of mass consumer. The collections of pre-a-porter are presented twice a year in the fashion weeks in Paris, New York, Milan and London.

Fashion weeks

It is probably the most important event in the fashion industry. It attracts famous fashion designers, fashion critics, journalists, clothing manufacturers and celebrities interested in fashion. Fashion weeks takes place twice a year in the metropolitans referred to as fashion capitals – Paris, Milan, London and New York. Fashion week is a perfect chance for fashion houses, designers and brands to introduce their new collections to influencers of the fashion business. Spring/Summer fashion weeks takes place in September and October, while Autumn/Winter collections are presented in February and March. The main trends of the warm and cold seasons of the year are presented during these fashion weeks. The guidelines drawn during fashion weeks are later followed by clothing manufacturers and fashion magazines. Fashion weeks are also organized in other cities of the world, for example in Miami, Rio de Janeiro, Berlin and Delhi.

Pre-fall collections

In order for fashion addicts not to get bored waiting for fashion weeks, during the time between the season collections designers introduces pre-fall collections. These collections appear in December and January. It is kind-of a prelude into the Autumn/Winter season, which sheds some light on the directions and trends chosen by the designers when creating main collections. Along with the newest clothing designs goes newest jewellery designs which also draws the guidelines and trends for those interested in jewellery pieces, such as pendants, rings, earrings, necklaces and other jewellery.

Resort or cruise collections are usually introduced in July and reveal what kind of clothing designers recommends for the next summer. Pre-fall collections are usually much more modest that the main collections and are more suitable for an everyday wear.

Vintage or retro?

These two terms are often used wrongly when talking about old-style clothing and old clothing. It should be noticed that only clothing and accessories made in 1920-1980 can be attributed to the category of vintage clothing. Vintage clothing can be either new clothing or used old clothes. It is wrong to say that the clothes are vintages if they are only a few years old or clothes that simply look old. Such clothes can only be called vintage-style clothing. You will definitely not find vintage clothing in the common shop. Real vintage clothing can be found in the second-hand shops, flea-markets or specialized shops of vintage clothing.

The term Retro refers to the newly made clothing imitating the style of the previous epochs. It can be, for example, a retro style hat or shoes. Repro is a term which is used rarely as an abbreviation of the term reproduction. Repro is the exact copy of the clothing or accessory which was made in the past.

A new strain of unisex

The word unisex is used to describe clothing, accessories, haircuts or perfumes that suits both women and man. The term appeared on the fashion dictionary in 1970’s when the designer Pierre Cardin introduced a collection of universal clothing suiting for both sexes. Back in the days it evoked a scandal. However, a decade later unisex style has become a part of the fashion.

Lately the boundary between what is feminine and masculine have erased at all. Men are borrowing the ideas from a women wardrobe while women are happy wearing men’s clothing. In 2009 a new strain of unisex style has arose – its tomboy style. The popularity of this style has increased even more because of the tomboyish models. Instead of trying to look more feminine, they are wearing clothes which seem to be stolen from their boyfriend’s wardrobe.

Fashion victims and fashion icons

People are constantly searching for idols, who they could replicate. A hundred of years ago when there were no movies, television and the glamour of the magazines, ladies tried to look like a high society woman, actresses or ballet-dancers. After the cinema and later television has gained its popularity, ladies started to copy the looks of famous actresses, singers, politicians and athletes. However, the fashion icons are only those who had an influence not only to individual admirers, but to the whole fashion industry. Actress Audrey Hepburn and the first lady of the USA, Jacqueline Kennedy, are both real fashion icons.

Often a young, stylish, popular, wealthy party lions having a good taste, wearing branded clothes and sitting in the first rows of each fashion presentations are also often referred to as fashion icons. However, such ladies are also often called the “it girls”. There are also fashionistas, who are blindly following the fashion trends.


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