One of the biggest and most aggravating words that I see tossed around the fashion scene/industry is the word: Couture or Haute Couture
Wikipedia has the best simplified definition of this below:
Haute couture (French for "high sewing" or "high dressmaking"; pronounced [ot kutyʁ]) refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish by the most experienced and capable seamstresses, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. Couture is a common abbreviation of Haute Couture, which refers to the same thing in spirit.
It originally referred to Englishman Charles Frederick Worth's work, produced in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century. In modern France, haute couture is a "protected name" that can be used only by firms 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 in other fashion capitals such as Milan, London, New York, Tokyo and Madrid.
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 de la haute couture 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 (i.e., twice a year), present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.
However, the term haute couture may have been misused by ready-to-wear brands since the late 1980s, so that its true meaning may have 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 Roberto Capucci, all of whom have their workshops in Italy, are no longer considered haute couture.
Many top designer fashion houses, such as Chanel, use the word for some of their special collections. These collections are often not for sale or they are very difficult to purchase. Sometimes, "haute couture" is inappropriately used to label non-dressmaking activities, such as fine art, music and more.
With that being said I really really wish they would push terminology on the students more in art schools and other fashion programs. I wish in my heart that the French Commerce would ban together and take legal action against people misusing such a sacred and honorable reputation and affiliation. Something similar to when they cracked down on the black market fakes and reproductions in Asia and China towns in the states.
It kills me even more to see it so widely misrepresented in my own home town. I always ask my High School Students and even Adult students if they know the meaning and 99% of the time they don't, they think it means "high fashion" or "Runway fashion". Another big kicker is on the news when they are doing their little "fashion" segments and they are using the word couture to describe something. A lady from WBNS I believe used it during her presentation of the CCAD Fashion show this year. I'm sure it has happened numerous years. I choked and winced as soon as the words escaped her mouth.
To me it really is a slap in the face of countless generations of couteriers, tradition, and fashion history itself when people throw this word around.
Below are current and past Member's also pulled from Wikipedia
Members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture
The fashion houses listed on the definitive schedule for Haute-Couture Spring/Summer 2010 are:
Anne Valérie Hash
Jean Paul Gaultier
Correspondent members (foreign)
Maison Martin Margiela
Atelier Gustavo Lins
Felipe Oliveira Baptista
Maison Rabih Kayrouz
Marc Le Bihan
Mellerio Dits Meller
Van Cleef & Arpels
Loulou de la Falaise
Loulou de la Falaise
On Aura Tout Vu
Recent Guest members have included the fashion houses of Boudicca, Cathy Pill, Richard René and Udo Edling, as well as Eymeric François, Gérald Watelet, Nicolas Le Cauchois and WU YONG. In the 2008/2009 Fall/Winter Haute Couture week, Emanuel Ungaro showed as an Official Member.
Chado Ralph Rucci
Yves Saint Laurent