What Is A "couture" Cake?

Decorating By Alexsmommee Updated 26 Oct 2011 , 4:24pm by QTCakes1

Alexsmommee Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 4:11pm
post #1 of 61

So. What exactly makes a cake "couture"? I have looked at lots of different images here, blogs, business pages, etc. Some label their cakes as "couture", some don't. Some "couture" cakes look very plain, some don't. Some "couture" cakes look busy, but quite simple in technique (fondant cut-outs and the such). Many labelled as such really don't look "couture", and some not labelled really do look "couture". I think RBI, Weinstock, Spence and the such as couture.
So what makes someone think [i]their cake is couture? Price, difficulty level, time put into it, size, flavors, colors, etc.?
I bring this up because I am seeing more "couture" cakes on websites that are plain iced and/or fondanted with fresh flowers or plain iced and/or fondanted with the pricey crystal band you can put around the bottom of each tier and nothing more in either of these situations. In these two situations, where is the added skill and art that I think a couture cake should display?

60 replies
dinascakes Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 4:34pm
post #2 of 61

Not sure, but I think that maybe it pertains to the fact that the cake is made to order to the client's specifications, no matter how simple or elaborate it might be. The word couture actually pertains to fashion design and clothing, especially when its made to order. I think people have used the word incorrectly because it sounds fancy, but are just using it for the "made to order" part of the definition.

brenda549 Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 4:40pm
post #3 of 61

You will probably get several opinions on this one. I for one think high fashion when the word "couture" is mentioned. So to me a couture cake would be one that mimics the high fashion world. It is a cake that has decorations made to look like fashion elements such as beading, lace, satin, leather, animal print, etc. It could have smooth lines or jagged edges. It could have detailed scrolling or detailed patterns.

Regardless, to an untrained eye, the cake should look flawless.

But this is just my 2 cents.

mariacakestoo Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 4:47pm
post #4 of 61

I'll pm you an example. icon_wink.gif

aundron Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 4:48pm
post #5 of 61

Haute couture (French for "high sewing" or "high dressmaking"; pronounced: [ot kutyʁ], English pronunciation: /ˌoʊt kuːˈtʊər/) refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable seamstresses, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. Couture is a common abbreviation of haute couture and refers to the same thing in spirit.[1]

I use the word "couture" for my business because each cake is specifically designed for each customer. icon_biggrin.gif HTH

SweetSuzieQ Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 4:50pm
post #6 of 61

To me, when I hear couture I think custom made by a top end designer. I mean, my mom can custom make me a dress but, I wouldn't consider it "couture".

So, I guess translated into cakes, couture would be anything custom made by a well known or established cake designer.

mariacakestoo Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 4:52pm
post #7 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by aundron

I use the word "couture" for my business because each cake is specifically designed for each customer. icon_biggrin.gif HTH


Me too. I quit taking order for everyday cakes done a million times. I still do the occasional fun kid cake, but I make sure it's executed as flawlessly as possible, and very well decorated. Weddings? I refuse to do boring for weddings. It's catching on.

ConfectionsCC Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 5:21pm
post #8 of 61

I am using "couture" in my name so to show people everything is custom made, and most likely, more expensive than run of the mill "grocery store" type cakes. I do not, will not do a sheet cake. Everything I do is to the customer's exact specifications top to bottom, inside and out. I will spare no expense making them! I am still new to the biz and working on making my cakes as pretty as I want, but I am working very hard, and I have a max order amount of 4 cakes a weekend to ensure I have plenty of time to work on them. I want to eventually specialize in nothing but high-end special occasion and wedding cakes! "Couture" gives the customer a sense of quality in my opinion.

kisamarie Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 5:26pm
post #9 of 61

I think the word "Couture" as it applies to cakes, does mean custom designed for each customer. I also think this site is a wonderful place to learn new techniques and to get ideas and to develop peoples skills in many different ways, and to get positive or constructive feedback on ideas and designs. If I feel like someones idea of "Couture" doesnt apply to my own perameters, it's just my opinion, and you know what they say about opinions! icon_biggrin.gif

AnnieCahill Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 5:30pm
post #10 of 61

Just an aside...

Remember the days when people were just bakers or cake decorators? Now everyone's a cake artist or cake designer making couture cakes from their cake boutiques. LOL. Gotta love marketing!

ConfectionsCC Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 5:52pm
post #11 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

Just an aside...

Remember the days when people were just bakers or cake decorators? Now everyone's a cake artist or cake designer making couture cakes from their cake boutiques. LOL. Gotta love marketing!




Yes mam! Marketing is all it boils down to! There are so many great decorators, new and old, its hard to stand out! The name is very important, so make a statement!!! I would love to just be the "cake lady" for my area, but darn if it isn't so addicting that there are like 5 "cake ladies" just down the road lol!! It will most likely calm down in a couple of years, and the really great bakers will be able to stand out easily once again icon_smile.gif (hope by then I am one of the "great" ones LOL!! icon_rolleyes.gif )

Kaykaymay Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 5:59pm
post #12 of 61

I think if you use the word "Couture" in cake making it has nothing to do with a custom design but it should be about the quality and skill it takes to execute the design. Even a simple buttercream iced cake with the crystal band as mentioned before can be "couture" but the buttercream should be smooth like fondant the edges should be sharp the seams should be seamless etc. (as we all are aware not everyone can achieve that)

We all do custom cakes but the execution is what sets us apart. To me couture is when you can do something with whatever medium that the average person cannot.

And that is the reason why we have words like "self proclaimed" because anyone can claim to be something but that doesn't mean they are.

FromScratchSF Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 6:29pm
post #13 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by brenda549

You will probably get several opinions on this one. I for one think high fashion when the word "couture" is mentioned. So to me a couture cake would be one that mimics the high fashion world. It is a cake that has decorations made to look like fashion elements such as beading, lace, satin, leather, animal print, etc. It could have smooth lines or jagged edges. It could have detailed scrolling or detailed patterns.

Regardless, to an untrained eye, the cake should look flawless.

But this is just my 2 cents.




I agree mostly with this definition... People look to couture fashion houses to set the trend for up coming seasons, so every season couture fashion houses come up with totally new designs for their clothing. Then everyone else copies them. I am OK with someone calling their cakes "couture" if I see unique designs and techniques.

Cakegirls and Lauri Dutinno are excellent examples, they create totally unique cakes that we all go WOW! Then try and copy in one way or another. I may be artisan, I may be top shelf, but I ain't couture. Yet.

mariacakestoo Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 7:50pm
post #14 of 61

J Brat, you have some couture designs under your belt, don't kid yourself. icon_wink.gif

FromScratchSF Posted 26 Aug 2011 , 8:21pm
post #15 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by mariacakestoo

J Brat, you have some couture designs under your belt, don't kid yourself. icon_wink.gif




<Nobody has ever called me that! LOL, I kind of like it!

And thanks, I don't feel like it but I'm trying.

scp1127 Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 2:10am
post #16 of 61

One problem: People with the higher income who would buy a "couture" cake will likely have the education to know what the word means. The improper use of a word, especially in another language, by a business makes the business look ignorant of the proper use of the word. I have seen this so many times over the years and immediately dismiss the company because they don't even know the meaning of the word they are using. It is actually a joke among friends when this happens. We say, "Did you see...". The fact that cake designers make "couture cakes" with elements of high fashion further emphasizes the improper use of the word if it is used in the wrong context. I am sure those CC members that are also multi-lingual will agree.

This also goes for misspellings of foreign words or names in literature. Example: Shangri-La spelled shang-ra-la, or voila spelled walla.

This will be an unpopular post, but what I said is true... like looking for misspellings on signs.

BizCoCos Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 2:31am
post #17 of 61

ron israel is couture, sylvia weinstock also, can I make a couture cake, sure one day, but not yet, my mother was not a famous seamstress, but her designs were couture, In t seemscalmost anyone can market themselves as couture, but I prefer to think of ron israel and my mom as couture examples, lol

kellertur Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 3:32am
post #18 of 61

Couture is the route of Couturier, as in a tailor. It's a family name and we know what it means.

Couture, as in tailored/tailor fit, as in custom fit...custom designed. I don't see the problem if the cake designer is using it to emphasize how they "custom make" their high end, nearly flawless cakes.

It's not exactly a quantum leap...

snowboarder Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 3:40am
post #19 of 61

I sew (my skills are not even close to couture), so I only relate couture to sewing. However, I agree with kaykaymay's explanation about what it would mean for a cake business.

mariacakestoo Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 4:32am
post #20 of 61

Eh, couture is a nice fancy name one can choose to describe their fancy cakes, so sue 'em. Besides, I like to call attention to the fact that my cakes aren't just desserts.

kellertur Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 4:45am
post #21 of 61

Fastidious Cakes... just doesn't have the same ring to it.


I'm changing my business name to:

Austin-tacious Cakes (I'll have to move to Texas first)

kellertur Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 4:51am
post #22 of 61

Fastidious Cakes... just doesn't have the same ring to it.


I'm changing my business name to:

Austin-tacious Cakes (I'll have to move to Texas first)

Coral3 Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 5:32am
post #23 of 61

To ME, the word 'couture' used in relation to cakes is just a meaningless, bull$h!t word that people use to make their cakes sound exclusive. It's just marketing, nothing more.

jason_kraft Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 6:00am
post #24 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coral3

To ME, the word 'couture' used in relation to cakes is just a meaningless, bull$h!t word that people use to make their cakes sound exclusive. It's just marketing, nothing more.



I wouldn't have put it quite so harshly but my impression is similar...when I hear "couture" the first word I think of is "overpriced", followed closely by "hubris".

scp1127 Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 6:13am
post #25 of 61

Couture is a french word for sewing. A tailor SEWS custom clothing. Haute couture is high fashion in french. A tailor does not make cakes, he makes clothes.

Use the word if you want. I'm just saying that many times people dismiss the entire business as not knowing what they are doing when they misuse foreign words. It means they didn't even take the time to look up the word and understand the meaning. We have all seen examples of this.

Take Miette and Gateaux. Both names of businesses that have to do with cake. But to call your cakes "couture", especially when there actually are couture cakes, is something that will be dismissed by those who are in the know.

As other posters have stated, if you don't understand the word and are just using it to sound better to get a higher price, you will only impress those who are not as educated in language. You will definitely not impress the higher educated/income group. Those people will not pay more for something so trivial as a french word used incorrectly. And upper income is usually the result of higher education. Isn't that the intended target market?

scp1127 Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 6:20am
post #26 of 61

Jason, I loved your last post.

AnnieCahill Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 9:26am
post #27 of 61

I'm glad someone finally said it. I tried in my last post.

Sylvia Weinstock does not call herself couture. Nor does she have that anywhere in her business title. She is Sylvia Weinstock Cakes Ltd. She started off making a cake for someone's wedding, then everyone at the venue started asking her for cakes. Maybe someone else called her that somewhere down the line and the name stuck. I have a lot of respect for Sylvia because she doesn't use fondant. She is true to the old school and she and her staff produce beautiful gumpaste flowers. All buttercream cakes are by no means considered "couture" in "cake fashion" (it pained me to type something so douchey). Most "couture" cakes I have seen are covered and draped in 50 lbs of fondant before they reach their destinations.

In my opinion, a lot of so-called "couture" cakes are basically cakes which have been done a zillion times over in variations. Ribbon, bling, a well-placed ginormous flower, etc. I mean for God's sake, how many different ways can you wrap and drape fondant and put bows, brooches, flowers, and ribbon? It has all been done before, with some more beautifully executed than others.

Buddy Valastro has produced very beautiful cakes with what I would consider timeless designs. But he is just a baker at Carlo's bakery. Does he have couture cannolis?

When I hear that term I think a) someone has a big ego b) they are expensive or c) they like it as a marketing term. I've been on this board for a long time. I think most people on here are using the latter to distinguish themselves just as another poster said.

And yes, walla. Wow, I have heard that and seen it written more times than I care to remember. LOL.

Jason, hubris, absolutely.

cakestyles Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 1:05pm
post #28 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

. I have a lot of respect for Sylvia because she doesn't use fondant. She is true to the old school and she and her staff produce beautiful gumpaste flowers.




Sure she does...most of her cakes are butter cream (covered in her sweat shop factory gp flowers) but look at some of her books, there are plenty of fondant covered cakes in them.


Her "Sensational Cakes" book has more than a few fondant covered cakes.

costumeczar Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 1:48pm
post #29 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

You will definitely not impress the higher educated/income group. Those people will not pay more for something so trivial as a french word used incorrectly. And upper income is usually the result of higher education. Isn't that the intended target market?




I had to laugh at this, since there are plenty of people I know who have a lot of education but aren't rolling in money, and plenty who inherited daddy's money and are totally uneducated. In addition, there are plenty of people who do have a lot of money who seem to be willing to pay whatever someone is smart enough to sell them because it has the brand-of-the-month on it, whatever that happens to be.

I just think of "couture" as referring to something that's custom made. No need to get all worked up over it. I actually do have experience studying couture sewing techniques, and I don't get offended when I see the term used for cakes. Big whoop.

AnnieCahill Posted 27 Aug 2011 , 1:48pm
post #30 of 61

I found an interview with her in 2010:

Do brides ever try to put the cakes outside in the heat?

S: We discourage that because these are butter cakes. We dont use fondant; we only use butter cream so it is a delicious cake to eat. That means it has to be cared for. So in an air-conditioned room it is fine; out in the sun, no. Bring it out at the last minute if it has to be outdoors at all. And then some other requests, do they want it flowery, do they want embroidery, do they want it art deco, is there a shape that they like. We show them different shapes. We then sketch for them and give them an idea of what they can get.

Also, on the show she had on We (I think it was just a one time thing) she told the people she was training that she didn't use fondant because she thought it was "cheap" and that they needed to learn better buttercream skills.

I was actually kind of disappointed that there was only one episode of that show.

I have never seen her books before but they are on my list of caking things to buy.

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