The fashion world can be a cruel and judgmental one – turn up to a catwalk show in last season’s dress and you’re leaving yourself open to some serious sneers and ridicule. So if you want to cut it in the world of fashion, you don’t want to make the mistake of mispronouncing those designer names and fashion words.
The trouble is, lots of the words you’ll hear in fashion circles are difficult to pronounce even for native English speakers– as many of them are foreign language words. Fashion borrows lots of words from many languages, particularly from French and Italian. These countries have a long history at the heart of high fashion, with some of the world’s oldest fashion houses – Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Chanel and more – being based here.
This French designer name is one of the hottest names in footwear. You’ll always be able to spot a pair of Louboutin heels on the catwalk or the red carpet, because they always feature a shiny, red-lacquered sole. There isn’t an A-list celebrity who hasn’t stepped out in a pair of these.
This isn’t a designer name, it’s one of the hottest fashion trends of the past couple of decades. Vintage fashion refers to clothes and styles from the past. So if you own a dress from the 1960s or a pair of flared trousers from the 1970s then you own some vintage clothes. You’ll find more and more vintage clothes shops, boutiques and markets around these days, all selling used or second-hand clothes.
This French expression is one of the most commonly mispronounced phrases in fashion. It’s not hot ku-toor or hote co-ture. As with many French words beginning with ‘h’, the ‘h’ is silent, so ignore it altogether. French is a very soft language that often skims over letters when it comes to pronunciation, in contrast to the much harder German pronunciation, for example. French expressions like this should slip off the tongue like silk.
So what is haute couture anyway? Haute is French for high or elegant, while couture literally translates as sewing, but has come to mean the business of designing highly fashionable designer clothing. Haute couture is basically the term used for the incredibly expensive designer garments you see on the catwalk, rather than the slightly more affordable designer items you find in stores and boutiques.
This is a word used to describe a kind of tailoring technique that is used to bunch up fabric to create texture. Fabric is stitched so that it is gathered together. It’s often used on dresses and blouses, and along the bottom hem of skirts or jackets to add detail and shape to outfits.
This is a term that was first used to describe the hair of the latest trendsetters, but it’s since spread to clothing too. It basically means a gradation of colour, from dark to light. So ombre hair is hair that is darker at the roots, that gets lighter towards the ends. Fabric can also be dyed in this way, and has become increasingly fashionable in recent years. Why ombre? Ombre comes from the French word ombrer, meaning to shade.
Are there any fashion words you struggle to pronounce? Let us know in the comments and we can help.