What is "Haute Couture" - Definition & Explanation
Last Updated on: 13-Jan-2023 (1 year, 4 months, 17 days ago)
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Haute Couture: The Heart of High Fashion

Unraveling Haute Couture: An Indepth Study in the Textile Industry

History and Origin of Haute Couture

Haute Couture, a French phrase meaning "high sewing" or "high dressmaking," originated in the mid-19th century Paris, with English-born couturier Charles Frederick Worth often credited as its pioneer. Haute Couture garments are synonymous with unparalleled craftsmanship, exorbitant prices, and exclusivity, serving as the embodiment of the apex of fashion.

Types of Haute Couture

  • Original Haute Couture: These are one-of-a-kind pieces meticulously crafted for specific individuals by top-tier fashion houses.
  • Couture: It signifies high-quality, hand-crafted clothing but is slightly more accessible and less personalized than Haute Couture.
  • Haute Couture-Inspired Ready-to-Wear: This is high-quality, machine-produced clothing inspired by haute couture design but manufactured in standard sizes.

Tips for Handling Haute Couture

  • Haute couture pieces require professional cleaning to maintain their original quality.
  • These items should be stored appropriately in a clean, dry, and dark place to avoid any damage or discoloration.
  • Regular inspection is necessary to prevent potential issues like fabric degradation or pest infestations.

Major International Manufacturers and Users

  • Chanel: Known for its timeless designs and intricate detailing, Chanel is a leading player in the world of Haute Couture.
  • Dior: Established in 1946 by Christian Dior, this fashion house is known for its innovative and elegant haute couture designs.
  • Givenchy: Givenchy, founded by designer Hubert de Givenchy, has been a significant name in haute couture since the early 1950s.
  • Yves Saint Laurent: A revered name in the fashion industry, Yves Saint Laurent, was known for its iconic Haute Couture pieces.
  • Valentino: Valentino Garavani established his namesake brand, Valentino, and it has been a powerhouse of haute couture for decades.

Applications of Haute Couture

  • Red Carpet and High-Profile Events: Haute couture garments are often seen at high-profile events like film festivals, awards ceremonies, and royal weddings due to their exclusivity and intricate craftsmanship.
  • Fashion Exhibitions and Museums: These unique pieces serve as an important study of fashion history and are frequently displayed in museums and exhibitions around the world.
  • Private Collections: Some haute couture enthusiasts and collectors acquire these garments for personal collections.


From its inception in the mid-19th century to its revered status today, haute couture remains a significant aspect of the global fashion industry. Its continued relevance is a testament to the passion for impeccable craftsmanship, attention to detail, and the desire for individuality and exclusivity. Although not accessible to the general populace due to its prohibitive cost and personalization level, haute couture still heavily influences mainstream fashion trends and ready-to-wear collections. Haute Couture represents a domain where fashion transcends its utilitarian function to become an art form in itself. As long as there is an appreciation for artistry, luxury, and individuality, haute couture will continue to hold its unique position in the fashion landscape.

Haute Couture
French (of course) that literally means 'high fashion'. Haute couture garments are always one-off, one-of-a-kind. They're extravagant, often irrational, always unique and totally unaffordable. Famous eco haute couture designers include Linda Loudermilk, Katharine Hamnet, and Deborah Lindquist.
Haute Couture
Haute couture (French for 'high sewing') is a common term for high fashion as produced in Paris and imitated in other fashion capitals such as New York, London, and Milan. Sometimes it is used only to refer to French fashion; at other times 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 label "haute couture" is a protected appellation. A certain number of formal criteria (number of employees, participation in fashion shows...) must be met for a fashion house to use the label; a list of eligible houses is made official every year by the French Ministry of Industry. The haute couture houses belong to the professional union the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

The French term for ready-to-wear (not custom fitted) fashion is pr?t-?-porter. Every haute couture house also markets pr?t-?-porter collections, which typically deliver a higher return on investment than their custom clothing. Failing revenues have forced a few couture houses to abandon their less profitable couture division and concentrate solely on the less prestigious pr?t-?-porter. These houses are no longer haute couture.


French leadership in European fashion may perhaps be dated from the 18th century, when the art, architecture, music, and fashions of the French court at Versailles were imitated across Europe. Visitors to Paris brought back clothing that was then copied by local dressmakers. Stylish women also ordered fashion dolls from Paris -- dolls dressed in the latest Parisian fashions, to serve as models.

As railroads and steamships made European travel easier, it was increasingly common for wealthy women to travel to Paris to shop for clothing and accessories. French fitters and seamstresses were commonly thought to be the best in Europe, and real Parisian garments were considered better than local imitations. The first couturier to establish international dominance was Charles Frederick Worth (1826-1895.) Even New York socialites crossed the Atlantic Ocean to order clothes from Worth.

Following in Worth's footsteps were: Patou, Poiret, Vionnet, Fortuny, Lanvin, Chanel, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, and Dior. Some of these fashion houses still exist today, under the leadership of modern designers.

In the 1960s a group of young designers who had trained under men like Dior and Balenciaga left these established couture houses and opened their own establishments. The most successful of these young men were Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Andre Courreges, and Emmanuel Ungaro.

Lacroix is perhaps the most successful of the fashion houses to have been started in the last decade.
For all these fashion houses, custom clothing is no longer the main source of income; it only adds the aura of fashion to the ready-to-wear, shoes and perfumes, and licensing ventures that make the real money. A house must be careful, however, not to push the profit-making too far. Cardin, for example, licensed with abandon in the 1980s and his name lost most of its fashionable cachet when anyone could buy Cardin luggage at a discount store.

The 1960s also featured a revolt against established fashion standards by mods, rockers, and hippies, as well as an increasing internationalization of the fashion scene. Jet travel had spawned a jet set that partied -- and shopped -- just as happily in New York as in Paris. Rich women no longer felt that a Paris dress was necessarily better than one sewn elsewhere. While Paris is still pre-eminent in the fashion world, it is no longer the sole arbiter of fashion.

Haute Couture
Haute couture is a common term for high fashion as produced in Paris and imitated in other fashion capitals such as New York, London, and Milan. Sometimes it is used only to refer to French fashion; at other times it refers to any unique stylish design made to order for wealthy and high-status clients.
Haute Couture
High fashion; a very new look; expensive clothing created by a designer.

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