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Couture…what it’s really all about

July 8, 2014

Everyone has buzzwords in their field that make them want to gag and die. I’m pretty sure that registered dietetics are about to kill the next person that says ‘clean eating’ and that investors hate hearing about ‘the next big thing’ pitch after pitch.

Schiaparelli Fall 2014 Couture

Schiaparelli Couture Fall 2014

Couture is one of those words for me. And…in honor of the (actual, real, only) couture shows going on right now in Paris…we’re going to have a little informational chat about what exactly couture means.

Cue: our friends Merriam and Webster

(Side note- Couture is short for haute couture. Here are definitions for both words –>)

haute cou·ture

noun \ˌōt-ku̇-ˈtu̇r\

: the people and companies that create clothes that are very expensive and fashionable; also : the clothes they create

:the houses or designers that create exclusive and often trend-setting fashions for women; also :  the fashions created


noun \kü-ˈtu̇r, -ˈtuer\

:the business of designing, making, or selling women’s clothes; also : women’s clothes in general

:the business of designing, making, and selling fashionable custom-made women’s clothing

:the designers and establishments engaged in couture

:the clothes created by couture

Technically, haute couture clothing is custom made for a client and is only made by specific houses (see below). We aren’t big on exclusivity here in America, so we decided (culturally, over a long period of time) to drop the ‘haute’ part (it is harder to say if you are actually trying to pronounce the H- a very American mistake) and start calling anything couture. Enter one of my biggest pet peeves.

There is actually a society that all real couture designers are a part of. It’s called the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and there only a couple dozen members including: Adeline Andre, Gustavo Lins, Chanel, Christian Dior, Christophe Josse, Franck Sorbier, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Maurizio Galante, Stephane Rolland, Eli Saab, Giorgio Armani, Giambattista Valli, Valentino, and Versace, etc. Please note how Juicy did not make the cut.

So, how do you know if an item is really couture or not? Great question! Just look at this nifty diagram I made:


Now that you’re all informed…you can start talking like an intelligent human being. Try it out! Substitute this sentence: ‘My tailor brought this jacket in and now it’s my couture go to’ for this sentence: ‘I had so and so tailor this jacket. They always give a good fit’.

Starting a business in the fashion industry? I recommend avoiding the words haute and couture entirely. Naming your Etsy shop ‘Bucky’s Haute Couture Designs’ will only leave you sounding haughty (yes, full pun intended there) at worst and misinformed at best.

Now go check out the couture shows at!!



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