Alta costura means a garment is made one hundred percent by hand and under the request of a particular client. All beading, pleading, sewing, is mostly done by hand. Most dresses designed in big fashion houses are out of the reach of the average citizen, however, if you look closely you might be able to replicate a haute couture dress very economically, you just have to know where to look and of course, be very patient.
Haute couture is borderline unwearable, it is not the ready-to-wear found in stores. Couture requires good taste and appreciation of art, not to mention bravery.
Here some vintage haute couture, followed by more recent creations.
Regeneration, vintage at 1stdibs.com