Haute couture (French for 'high sewing' or 'high dressmaking'; IPA: [ˌoːt kuˈtyʁ]) refers to the creation of exclusive fashions. It is a common term for custom-fitted clothing as produced primarily in Paris but also in other fashion capitals such as New York, London, and Milan. Haute couture is not only made-to-order for a specific customer, it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming hand-executed techniques. The term is sometimes used to refer exclusively to French fashion; more often, it refers to any unique stylish design made to order for wealthy and high-status clients.
The term can refer to:
* the fashion houses or fashion designers that create exclusive and often trend-setting fashions
* the fashions created
In France, the term haute couture is protected by law and is defined by the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris based in Paris, France. Their rules state that only "those companies mentioned on the list drawn up each year by a commission domiciled at the Ministry for Industry are entitled to avail themselves" of the label haute couture. The criteria for haute couture were established in 1945 and updated in 1992.
To earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term haute couture in its advertising and any other way, members of the Chambre Syndicale must follow these rules:
* Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
* Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
* Each season, present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.
However, the term haute couture has been misused by successive ready-to-wear brands and high street labels since the late 1980s so that its true meaning has become blurred with that of prêt-à-porter (the French term for ready-to-wear fashion) in the public perception. Every haute couture house also markets prêt-à-porter collections, which typically deliver a higher return on investment than their custom clothing. In fact, much of the haute couture displayed at fashion shows today is rarely sold; it is created to enhance the prestige of the house. Falling revenues have forced a few couture houses to abandon their less profitable couture division and concentrate solely on the less prestigious prêt-à-porter. These houses, such as Italian designer Antonio Capucci, all of whom have their workshops in Italy, are no longer considered haute couture.
Many top designer fashion houses also use the word for some of their collections.
Official haute couture houses
There are many fashion houses who were once official haute couture members:
1. Hanae Mori purveyors to the Japanese imperial Household Agency
2. Atelier Versace
4. Elsa Schiaparelli
5. Guy Laroche
6. Jean Patou
8. Loris Azzaro
9. Marcel Rochas
10. Nina Ricci
11. Paco Rabanne
12. Pierre Cardin
13. Torrente Julien Fournie being the house's last couturier
14. Yves Saint Laurent
15. Erik Tenorio
As of early 2007, there are ten official haute couture member houses:
1. Adeline André
3. Christian Dior
4. Christian Lacroix
5. Dominique Sirop
6. Emanuel Ungaro
7. Franck Sorbier
9. Jean Paul Gaultier
10. Jean-Louis Scherrer
As of early 2007, there are four correspondent (foreign) member houses:
1. Nocturnal Valentine
2. Elie Saab
3. Giorgio Armani