The Haute Couture community gets more inclusive, while staying completely exclusive. The first Chinese-born designer was admitted December 17th into Paris’s elite coterie of haute couture creators. Yiqing Yin, who recently quit as artistic director of Leonard to concentrate on her own label, is also one of the youngest, at 30.
Haute couture exists only in Paris and is sustained by a small number of the world’s richest women. The designation — regarded as the pinnacle of the fashion world — is protected by French law and attributed exclusively by the ministry of industry to 14 houses whose clothes are entirely made by hand and tailored to each client.
Yin, who grew up in France after moving from China at age four, will feature in the next haute couture shows, which take place in the French capital between January 24 and 28.
Chinese designer Guo Pei — who created the spectacular, and much-parodied long yellow dress worn by the singer Rihanna at the Met gala in New York in May — has also been invited to take part in the January shows as a “guest” designer.
Yin studied at France’s famous national school of decorative arts before winning the Andam prize for her first collection in 2011, the same year she was invited to show her work in the haute couture shows.
Her big break was when actress Audrey Tautou chose to wear one of her intricately pleated dresses when she compered the awards ceremony at the Cannes film festival two years later.
Only 14 fashion houses have the right to call themselves haute couture – Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Maison Margiela, Giambattista Valli, Franck Sorbier, Adeline Andre, Alexandre Vauthier, Alexis Mabille, Bouchra Jarrar, Maurizio Galante and Stephane Rolland.
Another 20 are regarded as “guest members” of the elite club. In addition to Guo Pei, Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen and French designer Yacine Aouad have been invited to show as guests during January’s catwalk shows.