What Does Couture Mean in the Fashion World?

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"Couture" is a word thrown around to describe the pinnacle of fashion -- but when asked to create a couture garment, even the up-and-comers on the fashion reality show "Project Runway" have trouble figuring out exactly what "couture" means. The technical term is "haute couture," a French phrase that literally means "high sewing." It refers to high-end garments that blend together fashion and costume, explains the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. "Costume" in this sense refers to the arts of dressmaking and tailoring, says the Metropolitan Museum.

It's in the Details

Couture refers to handmade garments, designed and proportioned specifically for the wearer -- you won't find it mass produced in a department store. Bridal gowns and Academy Award ceremony dresses are often couture designs. Individual designers and top design houses, such as Chanel, produce couture designs for a few high-end clients or runway shows to demonstrate fashion-forward trends. Couture clothing involves detailed, unique construction, intricate design elements and expensive fabrics.