I feel compelled periodically to ask and answer this question. In the US, expensive ready-to-wear is called and sometimes label "couture." The designs are mass produced for the design house's target customer. Haute couture is strictly controlled by the Chambre syndicale de la couture parisienne ( Parisian High Fashion Syndicate), the governing body of French fashion houses. The term haute couture is strictly reserved for its members. There are a variety of regulations for the members. Here are some of them: a workroom is Paris, it must create designs for private clients which require one or more fittings, and present an haute couture collection twice a year. Here is the list I give my students: •Haute couture is not available in stores. •It is made specifically for the client who ordered it. •Pattern is made by draping muslin on a dress form that duplicates client’s figure. •Client will have one or more fittings. •Garment is made by hand-shaping. •There is a preponderance of hand stitches. •There is no size label. •It has few, if any, darts. •Fabric grain is often manipulated for a more attractive finish. •It has no machine buttonholes. •Lining is sewn by hand. •Fabrics are expensive and may be exclusive. •Costs ranges from $5,000. - $500,000. I know many of you have a similar list; I hope you will add your observations to this thread. There are also some exceptions; i.e. vintage garments made for stores before the French made PAP. Perhaps we can discuss it in another thread.