Fashion, or should we call it la fashion, was born in France. France is the leading country in the fashion industry. Nothing moves, nothing happens and nothing is approved in fashion without this country’s consent. And no, it’s not a bad thing. It is actually essential that this happens because this is the country of style and grace. Everything you wore, you wear and you will ever wear has and will most likely find its way through this country. There are others at the peak of the industry as well: Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, the USA and Japan. But it would be a total mistake to claim that they have a grip on the industry as firm as France does. Now the thing is that it did not earn its reputation over night. There are a few variables that have influenced the country’s status: big names, history, the passion and dedication to the domain.
Supposing that every country was made for something, Paris was made for fashion. Every enthusiast who wanted to do something in the domain eventually found their way here. It is not only a country that evolved through fashion, but also helped others to evolve through it as well. So if we are going to understand why fashion was born in France, we need to look at the most important features that confirm this status. We are going to be looking at the easy things: a little historical background, the most important French fashion designers and the cities which represent the heart of the French inspiration. Whether you are passionate about the subject or not, we suggest that you enjoy the ride. You are about to take a journey through the world’s most beautiful country.
A Little Fashion History Lesson
Everything started with the 17th century or, to be more specific, with Louis XIV. Louis XIV was France’s supreme monarch. His influence was beyond comparison. Despite the fact that he made France Europe’s leading kingdom, he was much esteemed when it came to fashion. Everyone loved the way he dressed and he was even considered “The Sun King”. Fashion’s ascension began somewhere around the 1670s, when fashion press first emerged. Designs were popularized and people outside the French court had great ease in accessing the most desired pieces of those times. Louis’ depictions also had great influence at the time, simply because he was portrayed as France’s savior, a god, a figure of great esteem and even worthy of being worshipped. The most noticeable feature that he brought into this world was, undoubtedly, the immense curled hair wig. Wigs continued to be worn long after this period, but the truth is that they were never that big. Things pretty much got out of hand in the 18th century, when the French Royal court was literally obsessed with fashion. This is why they created enormous debts, debts which they put on peasants’ shoulders to carry. In fact, one could say that the Royal court’s way of life gave way for the French Revolution to unfold.
Everyone is familiar with Marie Antoinette and how these fashion sprees brought her reputation to the ground. Still, long after her death, she is still remembered as one of the most luxurious personalities to have ever lived in history. What is particularly interesting about the 18th century is that the powdered wigs and the knee-breeches were finally rejected. Informal styles started to emerge and the era of periwigs, brocades and laces had finally come to an end. The fall of the Jacobins, in the 19th century, caused Thermidorian Reaction supporters take over the streets of Paris with scandalous clothes. We are talking about tunics and dresses that resembled Roman designs, transparent pieces of clothing so daring that people often called “woven air”. Everything was too tight for pockets, so women had to wear handbags wherever they went. Long story short: these were very controversial clothes for that time, but people believe that it had to be done. Many oddities reigned during this period: large hats, large earrings, Roman sandals that would stretch all the way to the knee, thick glasses, green jackets, even hats with dog ears! It was insane! The 20th century was the moment when high fashion took its toll. This is when the big names started to appear: Jacques Doucet, Jeanne Paquin, Louise Chéruit, Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli are some of the greatest examples.
La fashion would have not existed if it weren’t for these extraordinary people: Coco Chanel, Pierre Cardin, Christian Dior, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, Luis Vuitton, Rene Lacoste and many many others. It would be literally impossible to cover all their stories in one guide, so we will focus on Chanel, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent for the time, but we definitely encourage you to take a look at the others if you haven’t had the chance to explore them. These are wonderful stories of wonderful people who wanted to do wonderful things for the world. And they did. Nobody in the fashion industry is unaccustomed to Coco Chanel (whose real name was Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel). She literally changed the world of fashion forever.
Through her strong will, the desire to make a difference and her relentlessness she ascended from a girl left in an orphanage to the strongest woman the world has ever met. Everything started when she learned to sow. She had a choice: either remain the mistress of a rich man or make a life of her own. Luckily, she chose the latter and the world will forever remember her for her contribution in fashion. Christian Dior was also a relentless man. He had loved art since he was a boy, but his father did not want his passion to “ruin his life”. Thus, he sent him to study political science. Although Christian submitted to his father’s requests, he asked his father for some money to open a smart art gallery. His father agreed, only under the condition that the family name not be used in the shop’s name. Only after the gallery had been closed did he finally start his career in fashion. He started with selling fashion sketches and the rest… is history. You can see the results of his work today. As for Yves Saint Laurent, he was Dior’s disciple. He was well-acclaimed for his designs and quickly proceeded to making his own clothes in 1966. But did he have an easy life? Not at all. He was often challenged by the fact that he appeared gay. His school mates did not treat him nicely, thus he was sick almost every day. Fashion was his way of achieving inner greatness, and it seems to have been an excellent choice. His real journey began when he was only 17, after his mother had arranged a meeting with Michael de Brunhoff, French Vogue’s editor. His mother had great confidence in him, especially because of the fact that he had been designing dresses for her and his sisters. It was this that made her sure that her son was in the right places.
France’s Inspirational Cities
If you want fashion, inspiring locations, France is the ideal place for you. There are three cities which have been acclaimed by everyone: Paris, Lyon and Marseille. We are going to briefly talk about each and every one of them so that you have a clear picture as to why they are viewed this way. Paris has had a long history with fashion. Whenever something happened in this industry, this city was the first to be hit by that something. Each and every event that we talked about has profoundly affected the Parisian society. Practically, if you want to completely change your wardrobe we recommend that you visit the capital of fashion. It is quite impossible for you not to find what you are looking for in all those fashion boutiques! Lyon has been the world’s silk capital ever since the 17th century. You can already imagine why it can pride itself with the status that it has, right? It also happens to be the second luxury goods consumer city in the country, but if you think about the fact that Lyon is the second largest city in the country… it kind of loses its charm, doesn’t it? Lastly, Marseille is a rather “lucky city” because it is a fluvial port. Fashion goods come and go as they please, making the city one of the greatest attractions for enthusiasts. Artists and designers often gather here to expose their greatest works and, just like Paris, boutiques are everywhere! Now you have the bigger picture clearly laid out before you. It’s no surprise that la fashion was born in this country, is it? It practically has everything it could have dreamt of in terms of beauty, style and grace. But do not be fooled by all the glamour. These people have had much to suffer through to be here today. The fact that France is the country of fashion is, in the end, a total miracle.