Fashion Terms to Know: Haute Couture

Christian Dior Fall 2008 Haute Couture
Haute Couture is a word that gets thrown around often and its meaning could easily become forgotten. And with the Paris Haute Couture 2011 Spring Fashion Week coming up next Monday, what better way to celebrate then with a crash course in Haute Couture?
Pierre Balmain and his model Ruth Ford in 1947
Haute Couture directly translates from French to "high sewing" or "high dressmaking"  In short, it is the designing of made-to-order garments out of high quality fabrics that are sewn by only the best seamstresses and dressmakers.
Haute Couture has different meanings in different regions.  In America, the term is used loosely to describe designers and fashion houses who create quality fashion forward garments that are made-to-order.  In Paris however, the term is taken more seriously.  It's actually protected by by a law that states "Those companies mentioned on the list drawn up each year by a commission domiciled at the Ministry for Industry are entitled to avail themselves" haute couture.  In order to hold the title haute-couture in France, you must:
1) Design made-to-order garments for private clients with fittings
2) Have a work shop in Paris with at least 15 full-time workers
3)Each season, present a 35 outfit collection of both day wear and night wear to the Paris press
Some of the official members of Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (French Federation of Fashion) are Chanel, Christian Dior and Givenchy.
Givenchy Spring 2007 Haute Couture
Photos: style.com

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