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. 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 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.
-Each season (i.e., twice a year), present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.
Many top designer fashion houses, such as Chanel, use the word for some of their special collections. These collection are often not for sale or they are very difficult to purchase.
Haute Couture Fall 08
*click on the image for haute luxury.