What Actually Defines Haute Couture?

More Than Fashion

Most of us have heard the term ‘haute couture’ and probably even know that the direct translation means ‘high fashion.’ But what exactly does ‘high fashion’ entail? What does it take to qualify as a couturier or a designer on this level? Well, the most obvious point to make is that it’s clearly not easy.

Many of us may think that fashion trends are simply decided upon by the rich or famous, an expensive label, or that everything in Paris is automatically ‘haute couture.’ So to clear things up, let us give you a brief explanation of what constitutes an haute couture label.

Technically speaking, for a designer to be considered a couturier and their label haute couture, they must first and foremost be certified by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture which is not an easy feat. After that, there is a criterion that designers need to stick to in order to make the cut.

A designer must:

– Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings
– Have an atelier in Paris that employs at least 15 people full-time
– Each season present a collection comprised of at least 35 looks for both day and night

This means that a designer cannot simply set up shop and consider themselves a high-fashion brand or label – even if their clothes become the next big thing overnight. The French take their fashion very seriously and in truth, it’s really more like getting a license to operate a specialty machine than garment making. But that’s just the way things work.

And don’t think the title of couturier is solely for French designers! In truth, the first ever couturier was a British designer named Charles Frederick Worth and his legacy has left a big impact on the world of haute couture. So remember this the next time you wonder why those clothes cost so much!