La Mode, C’est La Vie

By Emily Guerra

Nous aimons la mode française! Translation : We love French fashion! And why do we love it? Because it’s the home of haute couture. The author Kershner says it best: “High fashion began in 1715, when ladies from the court gathered a group of tailors and designers, and plotted out new, custom-made fashions on the spot. And Voilá: couture.”  Soon after, couture kicked into high gear when Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman, came to Paris to find fame and fortune in the fashion world and created what we now know as haute couture. He started things that we take for granted like staging fashion shows with live models and sewing labels into his pieces – the first branding!

Source: Wikipedia

Kershner fills in our fashion timeline: “By the 20th century, the bustle and corset disappeared, and French women took to loose-fitting undergarments and the sleek look of art deco infiltrated French fashion.”  A familiar name that we all know very well lead this fashion movement.  “Coco Chanel stripped fashion of excess material, frilly lace and the constraints of the past….And, rather than using more fabric, Chanel used beads and embroidery to decorate her clothes.” (“Coco Chanel” ). Among other things, she made the little black dress a classic, trousers for women fashionable, and is the woman who single-handedly started our whole mania for suntanning.  But it wasn’t easy: many people turned up their noses to this new type of style at first. However, with styles that showed continuity and symmetry between the chest, waist, and rear, Chanel found her business exploding among women in Europe and America. 

Source: Style Check Up

French fashion eventually emerged into the art genre called “surrealism”.  Kershner writes, “Designers made hats that looked like shoes and evening dresses printed with not entirely elegant giant lobsters. These bizarre looks continue in haute couture today. Lady Gaga, for one, should be grateful to the French for their foresight whenever she pulls her meat dress out of the hamper.”  Where can you personally see the roots of fashion surrealism?  By checking out the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s upcoming exhibit:Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations exhibition, which opens in May.


 Nowadays, street fashion in France can be defined with neutral colors, statement accessories and classic pieces.  Parisians say, “Leave your hoodies and matching sweatpants, white tennis shoes, shorts and bright colored nylon windbreakers at home. If you dress nicely, you’ll be rewarded with better treatment in cafés, shops and restaurants” (“What to wear,” ).

Source: Elizabeth and James

French influences aren’t only seen on the streets of Paris, but also within the collections of designers all over the world. The Elizabeth and James designers (AKA, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) created their Spring/Summer 2011 collection with French inspiration that had a touch of femininity with a modern and urban twist. The line featured neutral colors often see in modern French fashion.

Source: EQ:IQ

EQ:IQ from Hong Kong also created a French-inspired collection in 2009 that brought forth feminine blouses, little black dresses and sliming trouser pants.

And of course, we couldn’t forget the label that is the essence of French fashion, Christian Dior. The fashion house that gave the world the “New Look” in 1947 continues to showcase elegant dresses, bold, hourglass silhouettes and classic colors.  So even if you can’t afford couture prices but want a French-inspired look, just remember the words of Christian Dior: “Simplicity, good taste and grooming are the three fundamentals of good dressing and these do not cost money”.

To Read More about La Belle France

Christian dior quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Coco chanel: The 1920s fashion designer who changed the face of style. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Kershner, K. (n.d.). Traditional french clothing. Retrieved from

 What to wear in paris, france. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Hot, Homeless, or Hipster? One and the Same

By Lauren Kucera

You can find them at your local coffee house, thrift store, and just about any other location that screams artsy and independent. Hipsters. A 2009 Time magazine article described hipsters as this: “take your grandmother’s sweater and Bob Dylan’s Wayfarers, add jean shorts, Converse All-Stars and a can of Pabst and bam — hipster.” In reality though, hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.

So, we can spot them from a mile away but where did this young style tribe emerge from and is there a method behind the madness to their look?


Much to my surprise, after doing intensive research on this style tribe, there does not appear to be a recurring, underlying method to their madness. While the skinny jeans with a white belt wearing, bicycle riding, music no one else likes listening to trend may be easy to spot, detecting their origin is not as simple. While the hippie subculture of the 1960s originated out of a disdain for war and violence, most are unsure how or why the style tribe of the hipsters emerged. Even though we’re slightly unsure of their origin, we can easily deconstruct the hipster movement.

First and foremost, hipsterism is about stuff: an iPhone packed with apps, thick-framed glasses with no lenses, and the accumulation of old shopping bags or coca-cola bottles under the mindset that these things are, in fact, art. Irony is another critical characteristic of hipsterism. When it comes to being a hipster, irony is a knee-jerk way for hipsters to emotionally distance themselves from sincerely appreciating things. Hipsters have an ironic appreciation for products that are not traditionally considered cool (ie: shopping at thrift stores and drinking Pabst beer).

So where can you find these one of a kind independent individuals, who in fact actually all look identical to each other? The greatest concentrations of hipsters can be found living in Williamsburg, New York, Wicker Park in Chicago, and Mission District in San Francisco. Down here in the South, Austin, Texas is also home to several members of this style tribe.

Haters may hate on this subculture with their somewhat elitist attitude and quirky fashion sense, but we can’t deny the massive influence they have had on fashion. The “effortless cool” urban bohemian look of a hipster is exemplified in Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads which cater towards the hipster demographic. Whether someone identifies himself as a hipster or not, you can’t deny the overwhelming presence of Keds sneakers, native American prints, feathers, and wide-rimmed glasses we see in fashion magazines and street styles today. Whether society wants to admit it or not, we’ve adapted a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mindset towards this current and I think, here to stay style tribe. So, rock on hipsters. But I mean whatever; I liked hipsters before it was cool.


If you want to, you know, read more about hipsters, here you go.  Or not, we don’t care…

Parasuco, T. (2007, November 22). hipster. In Retrieved February 20, 2012, from

Lanham, R. (2009, June 29). Look at this F****** Hipster Basher. In The Morning News. Retrieved February 20, 2012, from