On December 18, 2012, the artisanal line of Martin Margiela and Alexis Mabille were made full-fledged members of the highly selective federation of French haute couture (Chambre syndicale de la haute couture) comprising only 13 fashion designers...
Giorgio Armani, Elie Saab, Versace and Azzedinea Alaïa for instance are corresponding members.
The penultimate member to have been accepted is Giambattista Valli, which received the designation in December of 2011.
The label offers trade protection. It recognizes very high levels of artisanal and creative work and is a way of rewarding highly specialized hand-made couture, luxury and a sense of uniqueness in designs.
The constraints and commitment are such that not all voluntarily choose to pursue that route, just like some 3-star Michelin chefs decide to let go of a star in order to work in a less high-stress environment.
Currently, the permanent members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture include Adeline André, Alexis Mabille, Ateliers Gustavolins, Chanel, Christian Dior, Christophe Josse, Franck Sorbier, Giambattista Valli, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Maurizio Gallante, Stéphane Rolland.
The first haute couture fashion designer whose spirit of inventivity and extravagance continues to permeate the ideals of French haute couture is considered to be Rose Bertin (1747-1813), the couturière to Marie-Antoinette.