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!
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.
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,” ).
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.
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”.
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Christian dior quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.enjoy-your-style.com/christian-dior-quotes.html
Coco chanel: The 1920s fashion designer who changed the face of style. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.1920s-fashion-and-music.com/Coco-Chanel.html
Kershner, K. (n.d.). Traditional french clothing. Retrieved from http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/national-traditions/french-tradition3.htm
What to wear in paris, france. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.parisescapes.com/paris_wear.html