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Haute couture

Definition: exclusive custom-fitted clothing; clothing made-to-order from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail by the most capable seamstresses; high fashion; the most fashionable and influential dressmaking and designing

Pronunciation: oht koo-TOOR


French for “high sewing” or “high dressmaking” or “high fashion”

Why this word?

The misuse of the term haute couture is rampant, and it’s time to put an end to it once and for all! Haute couture can only be used to describe clothing and dressmaking. Using it to describe music, art, or prêt-à-porter clothing is inappropriate.

Fun fact

In France, haute couture is a legally protected term defined by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris. This means that only the fashion houses determined by the regulating commission to be eligible as true haute couture houses are allowed to use the term to describe their collections. In order to call itself a couture house, a fashion house must: 1) design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings; 2) have an atelier (workshop) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time; 3) have twenty full-time technical people in at least one atelier; and 4) present a collection to the Paris press each season, comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear

How to use haute couture in a sentence?

“I’d rather go on a grandiose honeymoon than blow a fortune on an haute couture gown.”

“It took several years for Jean Paul Gaultier to bring his latest haute couture collection from concept to runway.”


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Written by Lauren D. Shinn

Lauren D. Shinn is a writer, law student, and fashion blogger. She studied Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese as an undergraduate, and also speaks fluent Korean.


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