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Haute Couture by Apparel Search - Terms of Interest to the Fashion Industry

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According to Wikipedia, the term "haute couture" (which is French for "high sewing" or "high dressmaking" refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted apparel. Garments that are referred to as "haute couture" are made-to-order for a specific customer, and are usually made from high-quality, expensive fabrics and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques.

The term haute couture originally referred to Englishman Charles Frederick Worth's work, which was produced in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century. In modern France, the label "haute couture" is a protected term that can be used only by design houses that meet certain well-defined standards. However, the term is also used loosely to describe all high-fashion custom-fitted clothing, whether it is produced in Paris or other fashion capitals such as Milan, London, Rome, New York, or Tokyo.

According to, the word couture means dressmaking, sewing, or needlework and the word haute means elegant or high, so the two combined imply a very high level of artistry with the fashioning of garments. The purchase of a haute couture model garment is at the top level of hand-customized fashion design and clothing construction made by a couture design house. A model haute couture garment is made specifically for the wearer's measurements and body stance. The made-to-measure exclusive clothes are virtually made by hand, carefully interlined, and stay taped and fitted to perfection for each client.

The fabrics available to couture houses are also very luxurious and include the latest novelty fabrics, fine silks and wools, cashmeres, cottons, linens, leathers, suedes, and other skins or furs. In the case of a famous design house, the design and color of a particular cloth may be exclusively reserved for that specific couture house.

Information on states that in order for a garment to regarded as haute couture, the fashion house that created it must belong to the Syndical Chamber for Haute Couture in Paris, which is regulated by the French Department of Industry. Members must employ 15 or more people and present their collections twice a year. Each presentation must include at least 35 separate outfits for day and eveningwear.

By Regina Cooper January 2009

If you are interested, you can read our explanation about the differences between Haute Couture and Prêt-à-Porter.

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