Fashionably Misused: The Real Meanings Of Couture, Haute Couture, Demi Couture, and Prêt-à-Porter .

diordress

A dress by Dior, a haute couture house of both the past and present.

One of the most misunderstood terms in the world of fashion is the word “couture”. This term is thrown around by a lot of brands in an effort to make their products seem more upscale. The problem with this is most of the brands that call themselves couture are not even selling couture at all. Worse, the misinformed public is buying something labeled couture when many of them are not aware of the term as well.  Just take one of the most popular brand of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Juicy Couture who used couture for a line of *gasp* velour and terry tracksuits. Today, brands tend to use the word couture if they want to present their brand as something that is exclusive, well made and one that they want you to spend more money on. I will tell you that actual couture IS worth spending money on,

Just take one of the most popular brand of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Juicy Couture who used couture for a line of *gasp* velour and terry tracksuits. Today, brands tend to use the word couture if they want to present their brand as something that is exclusive, well made and one that they want you to spend more money on. I will tell you that actual couture IS worth spending money on, its just most of the companies selling couture aren’t actually.

So before you go ahead and spend your hard earned money on something labeled couture, let me explain to you what it is along with the other variations of the term:

So what is couture ACTUALLY?

The word couture, used by itself refers to clothing that is made-to-measure. This means half a dozen or more measurements are taken of your body (or sometimes more) and the garment in question is made to fit YOU. It does not usually denote the quality of the piece, that depends on the person who is making the piece, depending on their skills it could be bad couture or good couture, it also does not denote the price. This obviously depends on what the seamstress charges. The term is also referred to as “Bespoke” in the UK.

What about Haute Couture?

Another highly misused term. Haute Couture is actually produced by only half a dozen or so fashion houses, most of whom are in France. Haute Couture is actual a legal term applied only to fashion houses who meet certain a certain set of rigid requirements set forth by the French government.  Haute couture tends to be highly artistic, fanciful, handmade and often one-of-a-kind pieces worn by celebrities and the chosen few who can afford to spend the price of a very nice luxury car on a dress. Some houses who create haute couture are: Christian Dior, Chanel, Givenchy, Giambattista Valli as well as a few members who are international such as Ellie Saab, Schiaparelli, Ralph and Russo and Zahair Murad.

What is Demi-Couture?

This term is actually fairly new to me, I first came across it when reading about the demi-couture of Christian Dior in the late 1940s. Demi-couture has the hand-crafted details and often the price tag of actual haute couture, but is ready-to-wear (prêt-à-porter).

What is Prêt-à-Porter?

Pret a Porter is the French term for ready-to-wear. These two terms are more likely to be used when referring to expensive designer clothing which is mass marketed but really could be applied to any clothing that one could buy at a shop that is not made to measure.

 

 

2 comments

  1. Sherry Schwartz says:

    Hi, I stumbled upon your blog, and after reading a bit about you, thought you might enjoy this book…which I just finished.
    The Lanvin Murders (Vintage Clothing Mysteries Book 1) Kindle Edition
    by Angela M. Sanders (Author). The principal character has a vintage clothing store and there’s LOTS about clothing in the book! There’s a whole series of these…Check out on Amazon if you are interested.

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