You Say Fashion, We Say France!

By Kendal Carse  

   France. When thinking about this country there are a couple major things that come to   mind. First, the Eiffel tower. Then maybe cute cafes, or those infamous French men. But what is at the forefront of all our minds is FRENCH FASHION. Chic and glamorous, Paris is one of the influential fashion hot spots, holding an omnipresent-like pressure over the rest of the world to keep up. But looking at today’s industry, how did France get that fabulous track record that has stood the test of time? They had to have started somewhere.
     France has been one of the fashion capitals of the world ever since the first books on fashion were written. Handmade dress shops, wealth, and serious business all attributed to the growing population that came to France to be immersed in its culture. Innovators like the “father of haute couture” Charles Worth, came to establish a name.

   Throughout the course of fashion, however, two particular designers set the bar sky high- and are still referred to for their countless and genius collections as well as designs that are still used and worn to this day.

    First and foremost, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was one of the very first designers to make a lasting impression on not just French fashion, but the world. Creating jersey clothing, Chanel developed a simple and classic look. She was inspired by and designed many of her clothes from menswear; nevertheless, she still kept the basic but feminine attributes that can still be seen on the Paris streets today. The coveted little black dress that every woman holds dear can also be accredited to Chanel.

     Christian Dior. No other name could hold so much poise and meaning as this one.  Dior can easily be argued as the most influential designer of the 40’s and 50’s. Famous for creating the “New Look,” Dior gave females a whole new reason to walk out the door everyday dressed up. The cinched waist, rounded shoulders, and full skirt was received well, and is still used in some of the modern Dior designs today. Dior, favoring feminine looks, wanted elegance, glamour, and style all into one- and who could disagree?

     French fashion today is sleek, serious, and all about style. But what is the key to French fashion? Confidence. Dressing for the part, as well as for your age are the top two recommendations. And dress well. Remember, it’s not so much as what you wear, but as how you wear it. Sassy, sweet, feminine, or classic. Anyway you see French fashion, there is one reoccurring theme. Everyone is on their “A game.” So fashion in France? France is fashion. It’s where the big dogs play and where everyone, for a lack of better words, “brings it.”

For More Ooh La La French Fashion:

Christian Dior. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://designmuseum.org/design/christian-dior/

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (1883-1971) and the House of Chanel. (n.d.). Retrieved from

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/chnl/hd_chnl.htm

What To Wear In Paris, France. (n.d.). Retrieved from

http://www.parisescapes.com/paris_wear.html

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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.

Source: Egodesign.ca

 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 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