What exactly is Haute Couture?

Haute couture is French for “high dressmaking” and describes the creation of finest fashion and custom-fitted clothing. The origin of haute couture dates back to 19th century Paris.

The term haute couture is protected by law in France and can only be used by fashion labels that are acknowledged by the French dressmakers’ guild, the “Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne“. The Englishman Charles Frederick Worth is considered to be the founder of haute couture since he founded the first big fashion boutique in Paris. Among the permanent members of the “Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne” are Christian Dior, Chanel, Alexandre Vauthier, Jean Paul Gaultier and Givenchy.

 

To become a member of this elite circle of couturiers, a fashion label has to comply with certain conditions. It must have at least 25 employees and has to present its designs in Paris twice a year. The collections have to consist of at least 35 unique designs and have to be made out of the finest materials. This is also where the big difference between haute couture and prêt-à-porter lies. In contrast to prêt-à-porter, the fashion that is worn on the street, haute couture has to be exclusively hand-made in countless hours of work. For the big fashion labels, haute couture is not profitable anymore, however, they still maintain the haute couture collection for reasons of prestige.

Image: YouTube / CHANEL