Do You Even Know WTF Couture Means? We Do!

When I was in the fourth grade, all that I wanted was Juicy Couture.

I would’ve taken an item of clothing, a piece of jewelry, socks — honestly I would’ve been happy just to have a Juicy-branded shopping bag

I dreamed of it, I pasted Juicy Couture icons into my MySpace profile, and I searched the aisles of Marshall’s for a discounted velour jacket. While at dinner with my best friend’s family, I started yapping about how much I loved Juicy Couture. To my dismay, I was immediately corrected in my pronunciation of “couture” from my friend’s older, cooler cousin. I was deeply embarrassed. What kind of person was I if I couldn’t even properly pronounce my favorite brand? Had I been saying it wrong this whole time?

Nine years and a wardrobe’s worth of Juicy jackets later, I was starting my first year studying fashion design at university. I had left my Juicy charm bracelet in a dusty drawer at home, I had moved on from MySpace to Instagram — and I realized that Juicy Couture wasn’t actually couture at all. In fact, it was far from it.

Paris haute couture fashion week is upon us, and judging by how I hear many people using the word “couture,” many of us still don’t know what it actually is.

Let’s start off with what haute couture isn’t. Haute couture doesn’t equate to “expensive” or “designer.” Haute couture does not mean “high-end.” Haute couture also doesn’t mean “runway.” Nor does it mean ready-to-wear — that’s prêt-a-porter, and it’s what regular fashion week is for.

And as we’ve established, haute couture certainly doesn’t have anything to do with Juicy velour jumpsuits (RIP).

In fact, “couture” refers to a specific type of handcrafted, made-to-order fashion that’s even more exclusive and expensive than what’s shown during ready-to-wear fashion week. The world of couture is actually regulated in Paris due to the importance of the fashion industry to Paris’s economy. Much like the way wine is regulated in certain parts of Paris and Italy, so is fashion. In order to be recognized as haute couture, a fashion house must fall under these three guidelines:

– Designs must be made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings
– Each atelier, or studio/fashion house, must have at least 20 members of staff
– Each season, the couture house must present a collection of at least 35 runs with both daytime and evening wear to the Paris press.

Couture fashion is extremely expensive. Even your sugar daddy probably couldn’t afford to buy you haute couture. Why? Because it’s literally made to measure. As in, you’d be flying to to Chanel couture house in Paris so that they could take your exact measurements and create a one-of-a-kind garment for you. Celebrities don’t even wear couture on the reg. They only sometimes wear couture to red carpet events.

To give an example of how exclusive haute couture is, only 25 designers will be showing in Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week in comparison to the hundreds that show during ready-to-wear fashion week. Moreover, only about 2,000 women in the entire world purchase haute couture.

So have fun watching Gigi Hadid waltz down the runway at Chanel, but don’t think that there’s any way in hell you’re getting your hands on her fabulous outfit. If it’s sold in stores, it’s not couture.

Image via Grazia

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