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About ecoleholtcouture

Canadian Private Career College - School of fashion dedicated to teaching the art and comprehensive skills needed leading to a career in Dressmaking, Couture and Tailoring. Unique curriculum combining European haute couture techniques and 60 years of professional experience with originality of design, quality fabrics and perfection of fit and finish. Four year Diploma and two year Certificate full time programs offered in this specialized area of fashion to those with discerning tastes and creative ambitions. Our Vision... ...at École Holt Couture is to present the most knowledgeable, talented, skilled graduates of 'couture fashion' by providing expert instruction, individual attention and encouragement to pursue excellence at a professional level. Elfriedé Holtkamp, Founder EHC

This thing about Size!

Ecole Holt Couture

Far too many girls, boys, young women and young men, indeed even mature women and men have been stressed out and victimized by this notion of attaining a perfect size. It is an impossible war to win.

Why are people constantly on reducing diets, driven to physical exhaustion in fitness training, and stressing out about their size. This is not about good health.

Magazines, television and social media posts of beautiful models in perfect fitness are front and centre of our faces constantly. Giving the impression that we should all be that way, to be anything at all of any note. And we buy into it.

All photos and images are touched up or photo shopped and do not portray accurately what even the models in the images are really like! You’ve heard this all before right? Why then do we still strive to attain the unrealistic?

We are all born with a unique set of measurements, and proportions – which is perfect for us. What isn’t perfect, or all encompassing, is manufactured clothing. It is made for a huge collective number of end buyers that will to a lessor or greater degree fit into a brand’s sizing or product. It is the only way to mass produce and sell ready made clothing.

Ready made clothing needs to be offered in various different sizes to accommodate a collective number of humans in a target market. That is it. No mystery here.

Couture is not like that. Couture (or Tailoring) is made specifically for YOU. Your individual and unique set of measurements, plus your particular asks, or requirements. To your STYLE. How cool is that!

You are the Perfect Size [in Couture and Tailoring]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT4bGBW2Uk4
 
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Posted by on November 30, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Indicators for success at Ecole Holt Couture

It is important to know beforehand if the career you’ve chosen to invest the time and money in is the best one for you. This short video may help you to decide whether a career in Couture, Tailoring or Dressmaking is appealing to you and whether Ecole Holt Couture is the right school for you.

Ecole Holt Couture School of Couture Sewing and Design is specifically aimed toward people who are dedicated and passionate about 1) sewing, 2) love the notion of working solo, or at least in your own space, 3) are concerned about the sustainability of fashion in our natural environment and how to do our part to protect our environment, 4) want to earn a sustainable living, and see a need in your local economy, 5) are not drawn to running as part of the pack, but thrives on standing out, and have the courage to swim upstream, 6) consider yourself an artist or artisan, 7) looking to develop a fulfilling, life long career – one in which you can always learn something new. This is not a dead end job. And finally, 8) you love working with your hands, your mind and your soul.

https://youtu.be/1Jx6ItLynJs

 

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Is Ecole Holt Couture the right school for me?

Is Ecole Holt Couture School of Couture Sewing and Design for you? I’ve been there, you know that point where you are frustrated because there is some piece of information you are missing, some skill that isn’t up to the standard you want it to be. You’ve got the ideas, the creativity, but you don’t have everything in place to make that idea come to life, from start to finish. I know, totally disheartening right!?! My story, how the program blew my mind and profoundly changed me…

If you enjoyed the blog or video please subscribe to the blog and hit the subscribe button on our YouTube channel! Thank you, cheers!

Watch this video I share a little bit about what I learned and how I came to be an instructor at Ecole Holt Couture.

 

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Did you Know? at Ecole Holt Couture…

Graduates at EHC receive their final awards for attending and completing 600 hours of instruction and 1800 [2400hrs] hours of practical [projects] lab-work for each of the Dressmaking and Couturier/Tailoring awards.

EHC awards are printed with the graduate’s name, two official signatures, an EHC embossed seal, the date of issue, and possesses a unique serial number registered with the school. You can check the authenticity of our awards if you see one, and want to make sure it is real!

The award costs $40 for paper and graphic work, but is worth more than $60,000 and its value is truly priceless for the recipient. Most importantly, the recipient has the skills to work as a professional dressmaker, couturier and tailor!

The knowledge and curriculum are not copied or borrowed from any other institution, and is original to EHC. We have retained all of the original hard copies of work notes, sketches, and documentation, by the Founder from its inception, and development, to now, and and all of it is copyright protected.

We still create original patterns drafted by hand using 60+ measurements taken from each individual client.

That it took 16 years to develop the innovative curriculum based on the Founder’s 60 years of professional experience in couture and tailoring. It all added up to a life time achievement award and recognition by the Universal Womens Network in 2019 for Elfriede Holtkamp [who now is retired but is still available for sage advice].

These skills are as much an Art as a Craft, and impossible to exactly duplicate the work from one artisan to another. Experienced crafts-person or artisan’s work is unique and cannot be convincingly reproduced, which is awesome!

We continue to be committed to preserving authentic couture sewing and tailoring skills by sharing, teaching, and mentoring. And we really do connect with and love our students!

New* – EHC is developing online instruction to reach further reaching geographic locations, for those who it is impossible to attend in person. We are continuing on-campus workshops and masterclasses launching in the fall of 2021. Who knows, we may even do traveling workshops in the future!

Please subscribe to EHC’s Youtube channel, Facebook page, and follow our WordPress blog for up-to-date information:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ecoleholtcouture

https://ecoleholtcouture.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ecoleholtcouture

And follow us at www.ecoleholtcouture.com

 

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EHC – 8 part Project Video Series – Inside the Studio

As we are making preparations to resume on-campus classes the beginning of September 2020, we wonder how it will all work out in the midst of physical distancing precautions, extra sanitising, and how to minimise time wearing a mandatory face mask during this Pandemic. We admit we don’t have it all figured out, and in one month, circumstances could yet again change, but all of us will be doing our best to make sure everyone is safe and has the best experience possible.

Normally during summer breaks we take advantage of our empty studio to host workshops, and take on a few projects that we otherwise would not have time or available space for. This summer one such project came in that we could accommodate was a prêt-a-porter wedding gown alteration. We usually do not take on alteration projects unless they are particularly complex or noteworthy for our students.

Our client granted us permission to share these videos with you > sewing practitioners, ensuing couturiers and tailors, and future brides. Some insight to what a professional alteration outcome should be, and look like, may help shape your expectations or gain some freedom of choice as to whether to consider ‘alterations’ as a sewing career option/add on. And for the bride-to-be, whether to go for couture made or buy a ready-made wedding gown realising that some altering may be a highly-likely extra cost.

The question often arises: why do alterations cost what they do when they appear to be very straight forward nip-and-tuck changes?  This video series attempts to clarify why experienced dressmaking skills are required to do alterations of some complexity, and why the amount of time is necessary to accomplish the adjustments.

This project is divided into 8 separate video segments according to the various tasks following the initial fitting, to the final fitting, and delivery. They are titled and numbered 1/8 to 8/8 to make it easy for you to refer back to if you happen to have interest in one segment over the other. Together it is about 1 hour and 20 minutes in length, and we recommend that it first be viewed in its entirety putting everything in sequential context.

We hope you find the series informative, useful, and enjoyable and thank you for taking the time to visit with us inside the studio!  

Part 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzem3dlrVEU

Part 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmuFixUop9A

Part 3 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsuRxaGY4DQ

Part 4 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8BpyCwjp-Q

Part 5 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYpJ3q7-O60

Part 6 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-sZQCkPhs0

Part 7 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4WoAIm2jLI

Part 8 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDkYOkohtZU

Cheers! J

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Ecole Holt Couture COVID-19

COVID-19 has certainly changed how we presented our final term for year one of the Certificate and Diploma program. Interactive online classes replaced on-campus classes for 10 weeks. We necessarily compressed two terms of theory into one term online instruction, deferring all practical instruction for the same two terms until the fall when we plan to resume on-campus classes. This process was a huge learning curve for all of us – and not without its losses, but certainly not without space for creating new opportunities for online instruction in the future.

The experience has shunted us towards a clearer vision of the future for Ecole Holt Couture. The notion of migrating a selection of instruction modules to an online version has been in the planning for over a year. But now we have real time practical experience to create an educational experience that can potentially reach a further reaching audience. Although, still in the early stages of development, we do have a grasp on what works and what does not work in our specialisation, for an online format.

Thanks to my assistant and our current students who have stayed the course with us through this difficult time, even though only temporary, we were able to discover the strengths and weaknesses of online learning firsthand. We are much enlightened with the experience.

COVID-19 and the mandatory isolation regulations imposed on us all, has changed our world. Along with everything else that has impacted us, even a little bit, in the last 12 months, it seems there is not a week that goes by without news of another natural disaster or global movement affecting everything we thought we knew to be normal. It also feels like now is the time to be taking a firmer stand on issues that affect how humanity is being treated, as well as how we ought to be treating our unique planet earth.

At Ecole Holt Couture, we took a stand on using natural fibres in regard to minimising long-term negative effects on the environment, years ago. Natural fibres are by a long shot, the best in comfort and function to be wearing next to your skin, have the most long-lasting desirable characteristics, and the longest useful lifetime, and the safest decomposition properties, than any synthetic fibres to date. Yes, synthetics have their place in fashion and in utility, but should be used minimally and only for their ideal or optimum purpose.

We also believe that every human being, as well as all other beings in our natural world, has a valuable valid place and room for potential on our precious planet earth and should be treated with respect, understanding and with genuine kindness.

The problem is with our collective definition of value. The most contentious issue in society seems to be how we decide upon and prescribe value, and what characteristics we deem to be of value, which has changed and continues to change over time.

What we in truth value is tangibly reflected in how we live and treat other human beings, treat all creatures, and treat our natural environment. Why is our Earth continually mistreated and then also regarded as an unlimited provider of resources? What makes one human being more valuable than another? Who decides which skill is more important than another? What makes one creature’s existence worth more than another’s? Well, one thing that has been proven is in recent months, is that people on the ground keeping all essential services going are now invaluable where before they were disregarded as being insignificant.  

We still, however, face severe injustices of poverty & violence, and persistent resistance to human rights equality for women, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ communities, people of colour, and immigrants even after all the protests and riots around the world bringing it to everyone’s attention. We still face climate crises around the globe.

How then can we as individuals improve and change these unjust situations? It begins with each of us doing our part. Without that grounding no organisation, corporate or charitable, nor any level of government, is able gain any forward momentum for positive and equitable change.

… my condensed list of 2019/2020 events, disasters, catastrophes – the aftermath of what we are dealing with:

  • Major flooding, land slides, and melting of polar ice-cap disasters
  • SA Amazon rain-forest fires, and Australian bush-fire catastrophes
  • Global climate change denial and climate action demonstrations
  • Mass migration, and immigration conflicts,
  • #MMIWG movement, #MeToo movement, #BlackLivesMatter movement
  • Truth and Reconciliation reparation stalls for Indigenous peoples in Canada
  • Indigenous land-rights disputes and demonstrations,  
  • Acts of violence, mass shooting tragedies, and police brutality
  • Human rights demonstrations
  • Brexit and Megxit  fallout,
  • USA impeachment hearings and trial,
  • Rise of populism, return of fascism,
  • Major retailer bankruptcies, foreign trade-relation wars
  • Global deficiencies from COVID-19 Pandemic
  • And with 7 months of 2020 left to go…

I hope things will improve, and am doing what I can. I know you will too…

Cheers, J

 

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2019 Ecole Holt Couture Showcase Event!

Sunday November 3rd is showtime! Every year Ecole Holt Couture supports and promotes is students by hosting a fashion event that includes a Student Exhibit with Reception and a Runway Show all within the price of the ticket.

All this so that students can invite their family and friends to view and participate in their achievments. The showcase event is open to the public as well! Would be couture and tailoring students want to see what the school is all about and what the students have created. 

EHC also opens its doors once or twice each year, so that those interested in enroling have the opportunity to visit the school. Information seminars are designed to answer the miriad of questions that future applicants have about what they can expect from the program and what is expected of them.

The showcase this year is at cSpace King Edward, a collaborative creative space for all types of artisans. The venue is a sandstone building that was once a school, now completely preserved with a ultra modern theatre space added to the west end of the structure.

Our event features live music by local artists, Joshua Sung Park Trio. Who will play and perform through the afternoon.  We offer great tasting treats by Cornerstone Cafe – another unique Calgary eatery that combines good food, good company with live music, and music lessons, during the reception and while guests chat with the students at the exhibit.

Later guests make themselves comfortable in all-front-row seating for the runway show part of the event. Everyone gets a good view and nice long look at the models with commentary by the owner and instructor of the school.

If you are in the Calgary area on November 3rd, come and join us! Tickets are available through Eventbrite: look for 2019 Ecole Holt Couture Student Showcase .

Ecole-72

 

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Who is top couturier / tailor / designer today?

Today our class reviewed the numerous talented individuals who brought dressmaking and sewing to a new and exclusive level labelled ‘haute couture’. From Charles Frederick Worth, who is noted to be the father of haute couture, and many other designer couturiers that have followed in the 100 years leading up to 2000 including Poiret and Doucet, Fortuny, Chanel, Vionnet, Dior, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Quant, Pucci, Valentino, Lauren, Prada, and Versace to mention only a few. Generally, before 1900 garments were created by unknown specialist and novelist sewers. That is not to say, they were unremarkable, only unrecognized.

Looking back over unique styles which relate to these designers, and notably have stuck around in some form since 1900, we generally attribute timelines to those trends that caught on in western society. It was true to say that if you weren’t dressed in the fashion of the day you were considered to be operating on the fringes of society, somehow unaware and out of step with the modern world and good taste.

Since around the year 2000 however, that has changed and it would be very difficult to attribute any single fashion with any designer or single style followed by the western world. An explosion of designers and acceptable style possibilities has eased the pressure on everyone to conform to prescribed fashion trends.  But this has made fashion trend prediction much more complex. At the same time, it ironically seems easier to see huge design gaps in the fashion market.

One such gap is what we consider ethnically diverse style representation. What I mean is, fashion designed and created by individuals in cultures previously ignored, or even suppressed, by western society has only recently captured popular fashion media attention. Also, we have recognized it as unconscionable, and no longer the prerogative of western entitlement, to copy designs from another’s ethnicity or cultural icons. This really is progress to our own understanding and shouldn’t be viewed as hinderance to creativity or inspiration rather an opportunity for growth.

Another glaring gap is the unfulfilled need for atypical size men’s and women’s fashion, which represents a growing percentage of the population. I’m not just refering to larger size or particularly curvy individuals. It’s not so unusual these days for anyone to outgrow garments just by becoming more fit. Biceps and thighs are becoming larger, but garments are still made with standard size sleeves and trouser legs leaving them looking like they’ve been squeezed into sausage casings. I don’t believe this is the chicest look to show off muscular bodies.

Another gap is in regional requirements for warm and stylish winter wear here in our northerly climate. Sportswear and active wear seem to be reasonably well serviced today with outerwear for every conceivable sport. But what is clearly lacking is fashionable, functional and stylish outer wear for women and men in suits, dresses and evening wear. The key combination which is missing is ‘functional and stylish’ outerwear during the winter months that can last up to 6 months every year. Overcoats are never designed or made with enough wind-break, flexibility or ease to cover the entire body fully clothed in several layers already, nor made to cover, provide adequate warmth, and protect longer hemlines in evening gowns.

These are only three areas of immense opportunity for good creative design in fashion in our time. What I haven’t mentioned in this blog, but no less important, is the necessity to make and create with better materials, with better longer lasting methods. The whole purpose of our being in couture and tailoring is to promote quality in materials and craftsmanship to satisfy personal taste and style in garments that will stand the test of time physically and aesthetically.

2018 ehc showcase

 

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Happy 10th Anniversary Ecole Holt Couture!

Happy 10th Anniversary Ecole Holt Couture!

cropped-648x702.jpgWe are celebrating our 10th year in operation! After more than 16 years in the planning, Elfriede Holtkamp, my mother, and the Founder of EHC, who is a European trained Couturier of 60 years practice in both Europe and Calgary, designed and curated the entire curriculum based on her years of professional experience. The school opened its doors in September 2007 followed by passionate promotional efforts, attracting our first intake of students in 2008. After the first run-through of this new program, we continued to edit and tweak in response to what we witnessed being achievable by novices, and in learning how to more effectively transfer all the knowledge and experience in real-time practice. As our environment evolves, we also continue to evolve.

Our desire is that each student thrives and successfully completes the program, which is ingrained into our psyches, we are invested in each student’s training and strive to encourage excellence in all aspects of their learning and in their practice. Its not about competition, or only just meeting standards, or passing the grade, we want every student to become confident and proficient in their skills and abilities to both design, sew, and make garments.

Our curriculum is based on learning modules that must be completed in succession including all prescribed projects – unsurprisingly every student’s project has turned out distinct from another’s throughout 10 years – this is partly due to the unique nature of true couture and tailoring, but mostly because of the very creative minds and talented designer and makers behind them.

There is no doubt in our minds, that to fully comprehend and competently perform at a professional level expected of properly trained couturiers and tailors, is the foundation upon on which long and sustainable careers are built. The direction that each graduate chooses to pursue following training is as varied as the individual, and there are no limits in a career in which there is always more to learn and explore.

Currently we have 5 students who are in their second year of the Certificate program, and although the maximum size of each class is 6, most classes have been a 2 – 3:1 student instructor ratio, providing almost personal instruction. Each of the two programs are 2 years in length with the Certificate being the foundation program, and the Diploma the advanced program.  They may be taken in succession, however, students may for various reasons wish to gain industry experience before returning to pursue the advanced program. Whatever the choice, the Certificate programme must be completed before undertaking the Diploma program.

Over 10 years, Elfriede and I [who also have been trained and mentored by Elfriede] loved teaching together, have taken on two EHC trained temporary teaching assistants, presented 9 Certificate and 5 Diploma awards to our graduates, and currently have more than a handful of accepted applicants on a waiting list for the next intake in 2019. EHC is licensed by Alberta Advanced Education to deliver the programs as an Alberta Private Career College, and is member of the Canadian and Alberta Association of Career Colleges.

Every year EHC celebrates the student’s progress and successes with an end-of-year or graduation dinner, and we go on a class field trip or a fabric buying outing, which heightens the excitement of every sewer! Over the years, the school has hosted its annual fashion runway show, which is open to the public, featuring student’s work that includes vintage pieces created by the founder, Elfriede. In the past we have partnered with Making Changes Association and Inspire YYC charitable organizations for the event, and have welcomed several morning-television local broadcast crews into our studio promoting the event. We’ve also been featured in various news publications. Thankfully, it all comes together with the support of many generous individuals and volunteers.

Ecole Holt Couture’s fashion showcase is an exhibition of student work and a runway show. The narrative is achieved through styling and modelling reflecting and enhancing each student’s work. The audience shouldn’t expect to see or buy the newest or latest trend at the end, but to discover and witness the intricacies and details of couture and tailoring, what is behind and indeed inside a high-quality garment, and what makes a couture garment such a good investment. But mostly, is about making connections with the student creators. After all, everyone desires to have and wear clothes that fit their unique needs and individual style… clothes made specifically and especially for them.

If you would like to attend, here is the link to the event: Ecole Holt Couture 2018 Showcase

Oct 5 poster jpg

 

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Couture and Watermelon salad…

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One of the greatest pleasures at Ecole Holt Couture is celebrating well deserved credit for the tremendous effort and progress that EHC students have made since beginning in September 2017. This year we are between Graduation goal posts, so we decided that a class luncheon date would be very welcome.

Bonterra Trattoria in Calgary’s belt line district was the restaurant of choice on this sunny Friday afternoon. Of particular enjoyment for me, as lead instructor of this class, was the luxury of just hanging out with 6 amazing talented individuals whom I normally don’t have the opportunity to relax and chat with.

Our teaching intern, an EHC Diploma graduate, is an invaluable asset to the group contributing many hours of advice and support to each of the students. Having plans to travel the world in the future, will do very well combining her couture training and experience, cultural background plus a university education under her belt. We are very glad to have her on staff while we can!

We are interested in our students beyond their training and performance at Ecole Holt Couture. Their range of ambitions is wide and far reaching from further developing a career in Indigenous Fashion [see also http://ifwtoronto.com/ ], or taking control of unique design ideas by introducing them fully developed to the market, and transitioning from or combining Eco rehabilitation with fashion, or offering truly appealing and well fitting fashion for the not-so-common shape or size, to a career based on theatrical fashion culture.

Whatever, their plans and aspirations are, the students will acquire the tools and skills to begin traveling upon their life-long creative journey which will certainly evolve from one form to the next, and I’m enthusiastic for each one of them.

In the meantime, required term projects must be completed and submitted and another school year will commence after a well-deserved summer break – or is it a longed-for period of uninterrupted sewing time! (Hm-mm, perhaps that may be my own aspiration for this summer).

Cheers! J

 

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