"Couture" is a very misunderstood and misused term. Not a coincidence: the use and abuse have naturally led people down the path of confusion. Couture originates from the French term "Haute Couture" which literally translates to "high sewing" or "high dressmaking". Haute Couture in France used to be a term that referred to the exclusive fashion houses in France: Chanel, Christian Dior and the like. Not just loosely, it was (and is!) even regulated who could use the term Haute Couture in their advertising. (You gotta love the French - such sticklers for rules. I can say that since I'm half French!)
In order to qualify to use the term, the couture houses had to satisfy certain criteria, of which the main one was to design made-to-order clothing for private clients. So this is the main distinguishing feature of "Pret-a-porter" vs. "Couture": Couture is custom made for the individual client and pret-a-porter (ready to wear) is fabricated to certain pre-determined sizes.
Coming back to wedding dresses, even though it can seem that you are "custom ordering your dress", from a bridal boutique, the vast majority (I would say over 99%, but don't quote me!) are made to pre-determined sizes and therefore actually pret-a-porter. This term is itself a little bit of a misnomer because as any boutique owner will tell you, the chances of your wedding dress that you ordered (even though it's in your size) of fitting you perfectly are extremely slim! You will need alterations, which can be costly. The cost of alterations can be such a surprise that I recommend getting quotes on the alterations before purchasing your dress from a boutique, if you go this route.
OK, so if Couture wedding dresses are all custom made, why do several manufacturers have lines of wedding gowns made in stock sizes with "couture" in the name? In a word: marketing. Even though "couture" technically means made to measure, since savvy clothing labels have been using the term to mean "high end" or "designer", consumers have started to interpret the meaning as exactly that. Hence all the confusion!
So, how can you get a couture wedding dress you ask? Well, if you have upwards of about $40,000 to part with you can see if one of the few big-name wedding dress designers out there will make a custom wedding dress for you. Or, you can come to Custom Couture Bridal where we custom design wedding dresses and make them to our brides' measurements. This is our specialty: we don't actually sell stock sizes. Even if you'd like to buy one of the dresses from our in-house collection, your dress will be custom made to your measurements.
Why is the concept of custom made clothing worthy of such obsession and even legislation? It will sound cliche, but you have to experience it to understand completely. It's all about the fit, and in wedding dresses, there's nothing more important! Imagine, you're walking down the aisle and you start to feel your dress slipping down just a little. Or maybe a lot. It will show on your face. That precious moment of yours will be stolen from you so needlessly! This is exactly why more and more brides are trusting us to make a dress that will fit them perfectly.
Come see our collection of couture wedding dresses. Each dress is custom made and customizable in terms of several aspects. This way you can not only have a custom made dress, but you can tweak several elements of the dress to your specifications.