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MAIN Arrow to Home Life Fashion & Clothes Shopping Arrow to Haute Couter Fashion Designers

Ball gown, ca. 1951 by French
designer Jauques Fath
. The best
of haute couture is both timeless
and of the moment. More at the Met
Museum Haute Couture collection

Haute couture ('high sewing') originated in Paris in the late 19th century.

Fast forward a century and the playing field has been leveled. Today, traditional fashion designers concentrate on more profitable lines - like shoes, perfume, handbags and ready-to-wear.

The eyebrow-raising runway creations? For the vast audience of fashion consumers, they are simply a means of bringing attention to what's offered off-the-rack.

Similar to sparkling wine from the Champagne region, France still tries to protects haute couture as a "protected name" that can be used only by firms that meet certain well-defined standards. Today, however, the label is commonly given to any custom-made fashion line from New York to Milan or Paris.

The super-rich still engage the top designers for a custom frock, but they basically remain a very distinct and very small market.

Around the Web, find out more about the world of high fashion with insider info on who's hot, what's coming down the runway right now, or take time to window shop online luxury stores with additional links to the world's top designers.

More about haute couture around the Web:

Haute Couture
- What's hot right now. - Discover all things design, with information on the major fashion houses in New York, Paris, Milan and Tokyo plus more online browsing for the current art & design scene, together with a directory of the world's most elegant and chic online shops.

New York Fashion Guide - From New York Magazine this guide features fashion news and celebrity story articles, the latest fashion trends, and an extensive library of designer bio's.

The Cult of Couture - Check out an archived survey from covering the insider world of haute couture fashion designers and their rarified customers.

Top haute couture design houses online:

  Chanel Givenchy Prada
  Chloe Gucci Valentino
  Christian Dior Guy Laroche Versace
  Dolce & Gabbana Jean Paul Gaultier Salvatore Ferragamo
  Fendi Louis Vuitton Thierry Mugler
  Giorgio Armani Pierre Cardin Yves St. Laurent

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