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. The chambre syndicale de la haute couture is defined as "the regulating commission that determines which fashion houses are eligible to be true haute couture houses". 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 chambre does a lot more than decide which companies are haute couture. They deal with piracy of style, foreign relations and coordination of the fashion collection timetables, and do some international advertising for the French fashion industry.The chambre also runs a Paris couture school to teach up and coming designers and technicians the couture trade.The school helps bring new designers to help the couture houses that are still present today. 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.
* Must have twenty full-time technical people in at least one atelier (workshop).
* 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. 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 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.Follow this link to see how a Couture Gown is made entirely by hand in the House of Chanel.