Haute couture refers to female clothing that has been made entirely by hand and to order for a specific client resulting in a one-of-a-kind garment. The male analog of haute couture is bespoke.
In France haute couture has a much more specific meaning that it does internationally. For a garment in France to be legally called haute couture it must be produced by a member of a specific group, for a specific client and be the end result of a number of personnel fitting sessions. Additionally should the garment maker wish to remain eligible to produce clothing labeled as haute couture they must have a workshop in Paris and also present the collection during the two fashion weeks that occur every year.
Internationally, however, haute couture clothing simply refers to any article of stylish clothing. There are no international guidelines for calling any article of clothing haute couture. Because of the quality of materials and hand labor that goes into creating a haute couture item they are oftentimes incredibly expensive and can cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars.
Today even in France the term haute couture has been diluted as fashion houses look to create more money from ready-to-wear items sold at upscale department stores. In fact it is not uncommon nowadays to find ready-to-wear items that have been inspired by one of a kind haute couture pieces of clothing. Typically, though not always, these ready-to-wear items are produced in limited runs to help add perceived value and rarity to the customers purchase.