In French Haute-Couture (Couture means Sewing and Haute means High).
Haute couture consists of handmade luxury clothing, with only one copy per model, making all haute couture clothing a unique luxury item.
To be considered a Haute Couture brand, the fashion brand must belong to the “Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture” (Union of Haute Couture) and for this it must obey the regulation and its criteria imposed by the group; some of them are: Clothes made by commission with one or more clothing tests; having a studio in Paris that employs at least 15 full-time members; present a collection with 50 original looks each season (twice a year, in January and July) with night and day looks.
Haute couture began with Charles Frederick Worth, considered the first fashion designer, since he was a pioneer in fashion shows, having produced the first fashion show with models in 1858. In 1868 the Haute Couture Union was created (the Chambre Syndicale de la Confection and de la Couture pour Dames and Fillettes, in the original in French), in Paris. It was created by artisans in order to protect creations and prevent plagiarism.
The clothes are showed to a few buyers (since Haute Couture clothes are very expensive, on average starting at around US $ 10,000), who order the desired model, which is then reproduced with the person’s measurements, becoming a unique model.
In addition to the houses considered Haute Couture there are also those considered correspondents, who produce clothes according to the union rules, but do not have headquarters in Paris, such as Valentino and Armani in Italy and Elie Saab in Lebanon.
In the past, the number of Haute Couture houses was much higher than the current one. In 1946 there were 106 houses, in 1997 there were 18 and currently the houses that are within the norms of Haute Couture are: Chanel, Dior, Schiaparelli, Maison Margiela, Atelier Versace, Zuhair Murad, Bouchra Jarrar, Stéphane Rolland, Jean Paul Gaultier, Viktor & Rolf, Adeline Andre, Ulyana Sergeenko, Fendi, Alexis Mabille, Maurizio Galante, Alexandre Vauthier, Giambattista Valli, Ralph & Russo, Dice Kayek and Franck Sorbier.
Haute couture is a luxury item that has very few customers, so it is not it that sustains the maison, but perfumes, bags and other items.
Above we see Dior dresses made by Raf Simons, and below models by Valentino.
Bibliography: Allan, Georgina O’Hara; Enciclopédia da Moda: De 1840 À Década de 90: Companhia das Letras, 2010.