|Photo courtesy of Stuff.co.nz|
The dictionary defines haute as the French word for “fashionable” or “high class.” Couture is “the business of designing, making, and selling fashionable custom-made women’s clothing.”
A quick look on Wikipedia tells us that haute couture “is made to order [clothing] 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.”
Becca Carson Thrash, Houston socialite and couture collector, tells Forbes Magazine that haute couture clothing is “the pinnacle of fashion.” Couture could be described as the top-tier of the fashion world.
But, according to Bronwyn Williams of Crazy Chic, not just anyone can call his or her clothing haute couture, even if the garments are handmade to order. You can’t call your sparking wine “Champagne” unless it’s actually produced in the Champagne region of France. And it’s the same idea with haute couture.
|Photo courtesy of The New York Times|
Chambre syndicale de la haute couture is the official couture society of Paris. According to its rules, in order to be called haute couture, “a garment must be designed and made to order for a private client with one or more fittings. The designer must have a workshop in Paris employing at least 15 people full time. And twice a year, a haute couture designer must present his collections to the Paris press at the haute couture shows,” says Williams. Sounds like some serious regulations, which is why haute couture items are so prized.
Williams says that some of the oldest and most famous names in fashion, such as Dior, Valentino, Chanel, and Lanvin, produce haute couture alongside their ready-to-wear collections.
Check out The Secret World of Haute Couture for an inside look into this interesting, overlooked area of the fashion industry.