French fashion house
Established: in Paris by designer Rosette Torrente-Mett, in 1969. Company History: Licensing contract for men's ready-to-wear signed with French factory, 1971; signed licensing deal with Japan, 1972; childrenswear, leather collection, luxury accessories such as
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Laushway, Ester, "The Haute and Mighty," in Europe, November 2000.
Torrente is a French haute couture and ready-to-wear label. The essence of the company's style is represented by its longstanding reputation in Paris as one of the finest couture houses. Torrente couture and ready-to-wear lines are made from the most exquisite, luxurious, and individual fabrics in the world. Many of the clothes are hand-finished, which although adding to the cost of the garments, gives the customer a unique and personalized purchase.
Popular and influential Torrente styles have included the satin collar in an abstract floral print on a shapely, turquoise, short-skirted suit or a classic cream collar and cuffs on elegant, checked wool coat dresses and two-pieces. Unusual, stiff, gauzy silk fabrics are used on stoles, edged in bead embroidery and thrown over short, strapless bell-skirted raw silk dresses, with matching beading on the hems. Lace is another popular fabric, used mainly in eveningwear and ranging from heavily beaded and encrusted for sculpted looks, to a soft drapable lace used in short empire dresses in cream, with décolleté necklines. The drape is positioned centrally at the cleavage and secured with the palest of pink roses. The overall look is very feminine, aimed not at fashion's vanguard, but designed for a woman secure and established in her own style, whose schedule demands a quantity of individualistic, smart occasion wear.
The company was established by its first designer Rosette Torrente-Mett in 1969 and the upper echelons of Paris society soon recognized a formidable design talent. Torrente creations began to be seen in places like Maxim's and at the Opéra; stylish names like Claudia Cardinale and Marlene Dietrich became regular clients at the Haute Boutique. Since the 1960s the company steadily expanded. In 1971 a licensing contract for men's ready-to-wear was signed with a French factory and in the following year a lucrative deal was clinched with Japan. Childrenswear, a leather collection, and luxury accessories like neckties, scarves, glasses, jewelry, and household linens have since been introduced. The company even branched out into corporate wear, signing a licensing deal with La Callonec and Murier in France.
Madame Torrente-Mett was elected a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in 1971. Her other activities in the fashion world include being founder and vice-president of the French Fashion Institute and lecturing at the Paris business school, Hautes Études Commerciales. Her fashion pedigree comes not only from her father, who was a tailor, but from working with her brother, Ted Lapidus, at his design firm before venturing out on her own.
Items from the Torrente couture range are available in hundreds of shops worldwide, while the less expensive ready-to-wear line, Miss Torrente, is found in shops throughout Europe. The firm's menswear retailed in some 500 worldwide outlets. Helping Torrente's expansion were recent forays into the burgeoning Russian market in the mid-1990s through Haute Couture Week in Moscow. "It's very important for us to come to Russia…with its extraordinary youth and energy, with its new generation besotted by fashion," Torrente-Mett told Women's Wear Daily (4 December 1995). "It's up to us to show them the best of what we have to offer…. My role is to demonstrate, to reveal to them what is beautiful and at the same time wearable."
At the turn of the century the venerable Torrente tested uncharted waters with its first fragrance, under license to Perfumer's Workshop International. The new women's scent, part of a long-term association between the perfumery and Torrente, debuted in 2001. Yet it was still Torrente's couture line that remained the anchor and essence of Torrente style—denoting quality with an international sophistication equally at home at a society wedding in the south of France or at an opera gala in Milan.
updated by Sydonie Benét