The term “couture” is often used generically to refer to high fashion, but it has a very specific meaning in France. Within France, couture is a term used to refer to garments produced in high-end design firms which sew custom garments for their clients, using workshops and staff based in Paris. Outside of France, “couture” is used to refer to any sort of extremely fashionable garment, whether or not the garment has been custom fitted.
Couture is actually short for haute couture, a French phrase which means “high dressmaking.” In order to be considered couture under French law, a garment must be produced by one of the members of the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris, and the garment must be fitted to a specific client, with at least two personal fittings to ensure that the garment looks correct. Furthermore, the firm itself must maintain a workshop in Paris with French staff, and present a collection during both annual fashion weeks. (source)
To earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term haute couture in any way, members of the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture must follow these rules: 1. Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings. 2. Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time. 3. Each season (i.e., twice a year), present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear. (Source)
You can see all the haute couture runway images, including the ones above, at Style.com. There was one show inparticular that had me wishing I was an A-list actress so I could have a red carpet moment in every single dress. That’s coming up next…