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History of French Fashion

The history of French fashion is long and varied and always interesting.  Since the 1700's, the world has eagerly followed and often copied the latest French fashion designs.  Before the revolution, fashion was dictated by the royal family, the court and the designers they supported, from the extreme opulence of the Marquise de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, who wore gowns with low necklines and skirts so wide that two couldn't pass in a doorway, to the simple gowns preferred by Marie Antoinette.  Haute Couture reached its height in the 20's with the houses of Worth, Patou, Poiret.  Interrupted by the wars, it was Christian Dior who brought the spotlight back to Paris fashion in 1947, and modern designers Chanel, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and "bad boy" Jean Paul Gaultier are keeping it there. Go to:  Chanel, Fashion, jewelry and watches, perfume.

Books on the History of French Fashion

NMF17_H8KU1 Dior: The Perfumes Book
Assouline Publishing Dior by Christian Dior Hardcover Book Liberty Dior: The Perfumes Book
Hardcover book with jacket. Text by Olivier Saillard. Original photography by Laziz Hamani. 500 pages; 400 illustrations. Hardcover book documents the sixty-five year history of Dior's perfume line. By Chandler Burr. 10"W x 14"T. Made in Italy.

 

Jewels of the Renaissance Hardcover Book Slide View: 1: YSL: The Scandal Collection
Assouline Publishing Jewels of the Renaissance Hardcover Book Impossible Collection of Watches Book YSL: The Scandal Collection
Filled with luxurious imagery, Jewels of the Renaissance explores the fascination of Renaissance jewelry and what it expressed from love and friendship to superstition and dynastic pride. Hardcover book in a luxury slipcase. 292 pages; 200 illustrations. The Impossible Collection of Watches: The 100 Most Important Timepieces of the Twentieth Century by Nicholas Foulkes. Featuring illustrious names such as Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Tag Heuer, these 100 timepieces include the 1915 Omega Lawrence of Arabia aviator chronograph, 1962 Breitling Cosmonaute, and the 1985 Ulysse Nardin Astrolabium. Beautiful timepieces invite us to join a story, and these 100 examples unfold the narrative of one of the most dynamic periods in human history. Hand-bound, limited edition in a linen clamshell case. 144 pages; 100 illustrations. In the winter of 1971, the iconic Yves Saint Laurent unveiled a haute couture collection of mini dresses, platform shoes and look-at-me makeup inspired by the garments of the war years. Despite outrage by both the press and critics, the exaggerated runway styles took to the streets. This book of essays, interviews, sketches and more takes you behind the scenes and into the influential, trend-inspiring aftermath of "Paris's ugliest collection."

Chanel

Coco (Gabrielle) Chanel (1883-1971) is one of the most famous designers of all time. Abandoned by her father after her mother's death, she was raised in a convent, but by 1909 Gabrielle Chanel had already arrived in Paris dressed in her own distinctive style. In 1913 she opened her first boutique in Deauville adding relaxed clothes and the first bathing suit to the hats that had been her beginning. In spite of wars, she was on her way. By 1920, she had launched her signature scent, Chanel No 5. She took advantage of aristocratic liaisons to incorporate the best of foreign luxuries, using elegant fabrics to make simple, comfortable clothes stylish. In 1928 she opened her mirrored salon at 31 Rue Cambon. With the German occupation of France during WWII, she closed her shop. After 15 years of silence, In 1954, at the age of 70, in direct competition with Christian Dior, she was back and at the top of Paris fashion again. She was a demanding perfectionist who ruled the fashion world until her death at 87. Chanel had created the "little black dress," the comfortable cardigan suit, costume jewelry and perfumes. Her house lives on under the great talent of Karl Lagerfeld.

Christian Dior and Other Great French Designers

Christian Dior (1905-1957) was born in Granville and educated for the diplomatic service. He started designing in the 1930's opening his own salon in 1946. Dior revolutionized dress after the war with his first show on February 12, 1947. Skirts were shown below the calf, shoulders soft, and a small waist which accented the fullness of the hips and bust--the look femme-femme. The cutting and finish of the clothes was perfect and full skirts were held by petticoats. The "New Look" was enthusiastically received by women around the world tired of the austerity of war. By the time of his death, Dior boutiques had been opened in 24 countries. The house of Dior has been led by Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan and is now headed by the talented John Galliano.

More French Designers

  • Christian Lacroix "For me, elegance is not to pass unnoticed but to get to the very soul of what one is."
  • Paco Rabanne, a French fashion house, is designed by one of the best new designers, Patrick Robinson who states, "I see Paco Rabanne as sleek, sexy - seductively glamorous."
  • Ventilo: Armand Ventilo and his brother Jacques created their brand in 1972. The Ventilo philosophy: "My clothes are for women who are happy within themselves, who are looking for something that will bring out their own personality. Above all, clothes must be good to wear, and must always have a timeless dimension."
  • See by Chloe Paris: Contemporary fashion that's romantic and feminine with an edge.

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Last Modified: January 28, 2016

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