French fashion

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France is a leading country in the fashion industry, along with Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the USA. Fashion is an important part of the country's cultural life and society, and the French are well known for good taste. Haute couture and the prêt-à-porter, among other fashion styles, remain part of French traditional life. France has many famous designers.

French design became prominent during the 15th century through today. The fashion industry has been an important cultural export of France since the XVII century and the modern haute couture where originated in the 1860s.

Paris acts as the center of the country's fashion industry. Along with New York City, London and Milan, it is considered a lead fashion capital. Paris is home to many premier fashion designers including Chanel, Pierre Cardin, Céline, Chloe, Dior, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Hermès, Lanvin, Rochas, Vuitton, and Yves Saint Laurent.[1][2]

Many French cities, including Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Lille, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, and Nantes, host important luxury districts and avenues. In recent centuries, these cities have transformed into developed cities and heavy producers and costumers of luxury goods. Île-de-France, Manosque, La Gacilly, and Vichy lead the cosmetic industry, basing well-known international beauty houses as L'Oreal, Lancôme, Guerlain, Clarins, Yves Rocher, L'Occitane, Vichy, etc.

The cities of Nice, Cannes, St. Tropez, among others of the French riviera, are well known as places of luxury, annually hosting many international media celebrities and personalities, potentates, and billionaires.

History[edit]

17th century, the Barroque and Classicim[edit]

Louis XIV, the "Sun king" was the absolute monarch of France, made he's kingdom the leading European power and where the fashion idol of the Barroque age.

/File:Louis_le_Grand;_Rigaud_Hyacinthe.jpg The association of France with fashion and style (la mode) is widely credited as beginning during the reign of Louis XIV [3] when the luxury goods industries in France came increasingly under royal control and the French royal court became, arguably, the arbiter of taste and style in Europe. The rise in prominence of French fashion was linked to the creation of the fashion press in the early 1670s (due in large part to Jean Donneau de Visé), which transformed the fashion industry by marketing designs to a broad public outside the French court[4] and by popularizing notions such as the fashion "season" and changing styles.[5]

Over his lifetime, Louis commissioned numerous works of art to portray himself, among them over 300 formal portraits. The earliest portrayals of Louis already followed the pictorial conventions of the day in depicting the child king as the majestically royal incarnation of France. This idealisation of the monarch continued in later works, which avoided depictions of the effect of the smallpox that Louis contracted in 1647. In the 1660s, Louis began to be shown as a Roman emperor, the god Apollo, or Alexander the Great, as can be seen in many works of Charles Le Brun, such as sculpture, paintings, and the decor of major monuments.

The depiction of the King in this manner focused on allegorical or mythological attributes, instead of attempting to produce a true likeness. As Louis aged, so too did the manner in which he was depicted. Nonetheless, there was still a disparity between realistic representation and the demands of royal propaganda. There is no better illustration of this than in Hyacinthe Rigaud's frequently-reproduced Portrait of Louis XIV of 1701, in which a 63-year-old Louis appears to stand on a set of unnaturally young legs.[6]

Rigaud's portrait exemplified the height of royal portraiture in Louis's reign. Although Rigaud crafted a credible likeness of Louis, the portrait was neither meant as an exercise in realism nor to explore Louis's personal character. Certainly, Rigaud was concerned with detail and depicted the King's costume with great precision, down to his shoe buckle.[7] However, Rigaud's intention was to glorify the monarchy. Rigaud's original, now housed in the Louvre, was originally meant as a gift to Louis's grandson, Philip V of Spain. However, Louis was so pleased with the work that he kept the original and commissioned a copy to be sent to his grandson. That became the first of many copies, both in full and half-length formats, to be made by Rigaud, often with the help of his assistants. The portrait also became a model for French royal and imperial portraiture down to the time of Charles X over a century later. In his work, Rigaud proclaims Louis's exalted royal status through his elegant stance and haughty expression, the royal regalia and throne, rich ceremonial fleur-de-lys robes, as well as the upright column in the background, which, together with the draperies, serves to frame this image of majesty.

Louis XIV notably introduced one of the most noticeable feature of the men's costume of the time: immense wigs of curled hair.[8] A commonly held belief is that Louis XIV started to wear wigs due to balding, and to imitate this his courtiers put on false hair.[8] The wearing of wigs lasted for over a century; they went through many changes, but they were never quite so exaggerated as during this period.[8]

18th century, the Rococó and rising new classicism[edit]

The extravagant styles of the French Royal court racked up enormous debts to keep up its pace, at the peasants' expense. Such fashion sprees notably ruined Marie Antoinette’s reputation, and were one of the many factors paving the way for the French Revolution.[8]

Marie Antoinette the Queen of France, was the fashion icon of the 18th century squandering.

Long after her death, Marie Antoinette remains a major historical figure linked with conservative and the Catholic Church positions; and a major cultural icon associated with high glamour, wealth and a certain style of life based on luxury and celebrity appealing today to the social and cultural elites; frequently referenced in popular culture,[9] being the subject of several books, films and other forms of media. Most academics and scholars, have deemed her the quintessential representative of class conflict, western aristocracy and absolutism government in addition to being frivolous, superficial; and have attributed the start of the French Revolution.

The phrase "Let them eat cake" is often attributed to Marie Antoinette, but there is no evidence she ever uttered it, and it is now generally regarded as a "journalistic cliché".[10] It may have been a rumor started by angry French peasants as a form of libel. This phrase originally appeared in Book VI of the first part (finished in 1767, published in 1782) of Rousseau's putative autobiographical work, Les Confessions: "Enfin je me rappelai le pis-aller d'une grande princesse à qui l'on disait que les paysans n'avaient pas de pain, et qui répondit: Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" ("Finally I recalled the stopgap solution of a great princess who was told that the peasants had no bread, and who responded: 'Let them eat brioche'"). Apart from the fact that Rousseau ascribes these words to an unknown princess, vaguely referred to as a "great princess", some think that he invented it altogether as Confessions was largely inaccurate.[11]

The Sans-culottes (lit. “without knee-breeches”) rejected the powdered wigs and the knee-breeches assimilated to the nobility, and instead favored informal styles (full-length trousers, and natural hair), which finally triumphed over the brocades, lace, periwig, and powder of the earlier eighteenth century.

19th century, full Neoclassicism and Empire style[edit]

Napoleon Bonaparte was an obsessive ancient cultures , with it, the neoclassical style reached its peak .

After the fall of the Jacobins and their Sans-culottes supporters, the supporters of the Thermidorian Reaction were known as the Incroyables and Merveilleuses. They scandalized Paris with their extravagant clothes. The Merveilleuses wore dresses and tunics modeled after the ancient Greeks and Romans, cut of light or even transparent linen and gauze. Sometimes so revealing they were termed "woven air", many gowns displayed cleavage and were too tight to allow pockets. To carry even a handkerchief, the ladies had to use small bags known as reticules.[12] They were fond of wigs, often choosing blonde because the Paris Commune had banned blonde wigs, but they also wore them in black, blue, and green. Enormous hats, short curls like those on Roman busts, and Greek-style sandals were the rage. The sandals were tied above the ankle with crossed ribbons or strings of pearls. Exotic and expensive scents fabricated by perfume houses like Parfums Lubin were worn as both for style and as indicators of social station. Thérésa Tallien, known as "Our Lady of Thermidor", wore expensive rings on the toes of her bare feet and gold circlets on her legs.

Thérésa Tallien, a leading Merveilleuse

The Incroyables wore eccentric outfits: large earrings, green jackets, wide trousers, huge neckties, thick glasses, and hats topped by "dog ears", their hair falling on their ears. Their musk-based fragrances earned them too the derogatory nickname muscadins among the lower classes, already applied to a wide group of anti-Jacobins. They wore bicorne hats and carried bludgeons, which they referred to as their "executive power." Hair was often shoulder-length, sometimes pulled up in the back with a comb to imitate the hairstyles of the condemned. Some sported large monocles, and they frequently affected a lisp and sometimes a stooped hunchbacked posture.

In addition to Madame Tallien, famous Merveilleuses included Anne Françoise Elizabeth Lange, Jeanne Françoise Julie Adélaïde Récamier, and two very popular Créoles: Fortunée Hamelin and Hortense de Beauharnais. Hortense, a daughter of the Empress Josephine, married Louis Bonaparte and became the mother of Napoleon III. Fortunée was not born rich, but she became famous for her salons and her string of prominent lovers. Parisian society compared Germaine de Staël and Mme Raguet to Minerva and Juno and named their garments for Roman deities: gowns were styled Flora or Diana, and tunics were styled à la Ceres or Minerva.[13]

The leading Incroyable, Paul François Jean Nicolas, vicomte de Barras, was one of five Directors who ran the Republic of France and gave the period its name. He hosted luxurious feasts attended by royalists, repentant Jacobins, ladies, and courtesans. Since divorce was now legal, sexuality was looser than in the past. However, de Barras' reputation for immorality may have been a factor in his later overthrow, a coup that brought the French Consulate to power and paved the way for Napoleon Bonaparte.

Final 19th - early 20th century and the Belle Époque[edit]

Coco Chanel, French designer revolutionised fashion world, in the post-World War I era.

France renewed its dominance of the high fashion (French: couture or haute couture) industry in the years 1860-1960 through the establishing of the great couturier houses, the fashion press (Vogue was founded in 1892 in USA, and 1920 in France) and fashion shows. The first modern Parisian couturier house is generally considered the work of the Englishman Charles Frederick Worth, who dominated the industry from 1858-1895.[14] In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the industry expanded through such Parisian fashion houses as the house of Jacques Doucet (founded in 1871), Rouff (founded 1884), Jeanne Paquin (founded in 1891), the Callot Soeurs (founded 1895 and operated by four sisters), Paul Poiret (founded in 1903), Louise Chéruit (founded 1906), Madeleine Vionnet (founded in 1912) , Elsa Schiaparelli (founded in 1927) or Balenciaga (founded by the Spaniard Cristóbal Balenciaga in 1937).

Chanel founded by Coco Chanel, it first came to prominence in 1925, it's philosophy was to emphasize understated elegance through her clothing. Her popularity thrived in the 1920s, because of innovative designs. Chanel's own look itself was as different and new as her creations. Instead of the usual pale-skinned, long-haired and full-bodied women preferred at the time, Chanel had a boyish figure, short cropped hair, and tanned skin. She had a distinct type of beauty that the world came to embrace.

The horse culture and penchant for hunting so passionately pursued by the elites, especially the British, fired Chanel's imagination. Her own enthusiastic indulgence in the sporting life led to clothing designs informed by those activities. From her excursions on water with the yachting world, she appropriated the clothing associated with nautical pursuits: the horizontal striped shirt, bell-bottom pants, crewneck sweaters, and espadrille shoes—all traditionally worn by sailors and fishermen.[15]

World War II[edit]

Many fashion houses closed during the occupation of Paris in World War II, including the Maison Vionnet and the Maison Chanel. In contrast to the stylish, liberated Parisienne, the Vichy regime promoted the model of the wife and mother, the robust, athletic young woman, a figure who was much more in line with the new political criteria. Germany, meanwhile, was taking possession of over half of what France produced, including high fashion, and was considering relocating French haute couture to the cities of Berlin and Vienna, neither of which had any significant tradition of fashion. The archives of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture were seized, mostly for their client lists as Jews were excluded from the fashion industry at this time.

Evening dress, House of Dior, 1954. Indianapolis Museum of Art.

During this era, the number of employed models was limited to seventy-five and designers often substituted materials in order to comply with wartime shortages. From 1940 onward, no more than thirteen feet (four meters) of cloth was permitted to be used for a coat and a little over three feet (one meter) for a blouse. No belt could be over one and a half inches (four centimeters) wide. As a result of the frugal wartime standards, the practical zazou suit became popular among young French men.

In spite of the fact that so many fashion houses closed down or moved away during the war, several new houses remained open, including Jacques Fath, Maggy Rouff, Marcel Rochas, Jeanne Lafaurie, Nina Ricci, and Madeleine Vramant. During the Occupation, the only true way for a woman to flaunt her extravagance and add color to a drab outfit was to wear a hat. In this period, hats were often made of scraps of material that would have otherwise been thrown away, sometimes incorporating butter muslin, bits of paper, and wood shavings. Among the most innovative milliners of the time were Pauline Adam, Simone Naudet, Rose Valois, and Le Monnier.

Post-war fashion returned to prominence through Christian Dior's famous "New Look" in 1947: the collection contained dresses with tiny waists, majestic busts, and full skirts swelling out beneath small bodices, in a manner very similar to the style of the Belle Époque. The extravagant use of fabric and the feminine elegance of the designs appealed greatly to a post-war clientele. Other important houses of the period included Pierre Balmain and Hubert de Givenchy (opened in 1952). The fashion magazine Elle was founded in 1945. In 1952, Coco Chanel herself returned to Paris.[16]

Full 20th century - Today[edit]

Yves Saint Laurent, was an Algerian-born French fashion designer, and is regarded as one of the greatest names in fashion history.[17]

Post-war fashion returned to prominence through Christian Dior's famous "New Look" in 1947: the collection contained dresses with tiny waists, majestic busts, and full skirts swelling out beneath small bodices, in a manner very similar to the style of the Belle Époque. The extravagant use of fabric and the feminine elegance of the designs appealed greatly to a post-war clientele. Other important houses of the period included Pierre Balmain and Hubert de Givenchy (opened in 1952). The fashion magazine Elle was founded in 1945. In 1952, Coco Chanel herself returned to Paris.[18]

Karl Lagerfeld, one of the most prestigious and powerful designers in the fashion world today, current creative head of Chanel fashion house.

In the 1960s, "high fashion" came under criticism from France's youth culture (including the yé-yés) who were turning increasingly to London and to casual styles.[19] In 1966, the designer Yves Saint Laurent broke with established high fashion norms by launching a prêt-à-porter ("ready to wear") line and expanding French fashion into mass manufacturing and marketing (member houses of the Chambre Syndicale were forbidden to use even sewing machines).[20] In 1985, Caroline Rennolds Milbank wrote, "The most consistently celebrated and influential designer of the past twenty-five years, Yves Saint Laurent can be credited with both spurring the couture's rise from its sixties ashes and with finally rendering ready-to-wear reputable."[21] He is also credited with having introduced the tuxedo suit for women and was known for his use of non-European cultural references, and non-white models.[22]

Further innovations were carried out by Paco Rabanne and Pierre Cardin. In post-1968 France, youth culture would continue to gravitate away from the "sociopolitically suspect" luxury clothing industry, preferring instead a more "hippy" look (termed baba cool in French).[23] With a greater focus on marketing and manufacturing, new trends were established by Sonia Rykiel, Thierry Mugler, Claude Montana, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix in the 1970s and 80s. The 1990s saw a conglomeration of many French couture houses under luxury giants and multinationals such as LVMH.

Since the 1960s, France's fashion industry has come under increasing competition from London, New York, Milan and Tokyo. Nevertheless, many foreign designers still seek to make their careers in France: Karl Lagerfeld (German) at Chanel, John Galliano (British) at Dior, Paulo Melim Andersson (Swedish) at Chloe, Stefano Pilati (Italian) at Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs (American) at Louis Vuitton, and Kenzo Takada (Japanese) and Alexander McQueen (English) at Givenchy (until 2001).

Cities[edit]

Paris is a symbol of France and fashion, known for its cultural environment.

France is known as a country of luxury, fashion and beauty, with Paris as one of the world's fashion capitals. It also has many cities and towns with an important history and industry of the entry, with various sized events and shows as fashion weeks and fests.

Paris[edit]

Paris is regarded as the world fashion capital, and spread throughout the city are many fashion boutiques. Most of the major French fashion brands, such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Lacroix, are currently headquartered here. Numerous international fashion labels also operate shops in Paris, such as Valentino, Gucci, Loewe, Escada, Bottega Veneta, and Burberry, as well as an Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store which has become a main consumer attraction. Paris hosts a fashion week twice a year, similar to other international centers such as Milan, London, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles and Rome.

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is the avenue of luxury and beauty of France and is the location of many headquarters of upscale fashion, jewelry and beauty houses. It is often compared with the 5th Avenue of NYC and the Avenue Montaigne, an adjacent avenue that is also known for its prestigious fashion headquarters since the 1980s. The fashion houses have been traditionally situated since the 17th century in the quarter around the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Other areas, such as Le Marais, a traditional Jewish quarter, have also included the clothing industry. The city's numerous fashion districts consolidate it as a fashion capital.

Lyon[edit]

Lyon is a city in constant modernisation, symbol of the country.
A view of upscale Presqu'île neighborhood in Lyon.

Lyon, the second largest city of France, is a growing fashion industry center. It has been the world's silk capital since the 17th century, with an important textile industry and a strong fashion culture. It is the second biggest luxury goods consumerof the country, with major streets and districts holding houses of high fashion.[24]

The Presqu'île is the upscale district of the city, containing luxurious malls, streets and avenue. The famous Rue de la République is compared with Avenue des Champs-Elysées of Paris.

The Rue Édouard-Herriot, the Avenue des Cordeliers Jacobines, the Place Bellecour among others, with elegant boutiques of Armani, Dior, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein, MaxMara, Armand Ventilo, Sonia Rykiel, and Cartier.[25]

La Croix-Rousse is a fashion district heavily marked by the silk industry, and known for receiving government support for the newcomer fashion designers. The city is the home of the headquarters of international fashion houses such as Korloff, Millesia and the jeweler Augis. Other famous Lyonnaise fashion houses in France include Nicholas Fafiotte, Nathalie Chaize and Garbis Devar.[25]

Marseille[edit]

Marseille is a city of contrasts, which represents the antique and contemporary cities of France.

Marseille, the third largest city of France, and the principal port of the country and of the Mediterranean, and second of all Europe.

A view of Canebière in Marseille.

The city is affectionately called "The Old Lady of the Mediterranean" or "The City of Contrasts".[26] The city has enjoyed its position on the continent being a fluvial port with ships full of fashion products. The avenue Canebière is called the "Champs Elysées of Marseille". Rue Paradis and the Rue Grignan are known for being the avenues of luxury in the city, holding high fashion boutiques such as Louis Vuitton, Hermès, YSL, Chopard, Kenzo, Tara Jarmon, Gérard Darel and many others. The Rue de la Tour is called La Rue de la Mode ("The Fashion Street"), where the newest Marsellaises fashion designers and artisans are supported by the city government, for creating and growing the fashion industry in the city. Some of the famous fashion houses here are Diable Noir and Casa Blanca.

In the Centre and Vieux Port (downtown and old port) are other of the city shopping districts, in these areas are a lot of fashion houses for both nationals and internationals.

Other cities[edit]

Passage Pommeraye, an ultra-upscale shopping hall in Nantes, UNESCO's world heritage.

Although biggest cities, there are a lot "fashionable" cities and towns in France, there are fashion districts, avenues, streets, shopping malls and many places specialized for all the needs of customer.

Bordeaux is classified "City of Art and History". The city is home to 362 monuments historiques (only Paris has more in France) with some buildings dating back to Roman times. Bordeaux has been inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble" and is the world's top prime wine tourism place, focus it's luxury district around the Cours de l'intendance. Toulouse with pink and stylish architecture, Rennes and Nantes with antique beauty, and Strasbourg offering French-German architecture, Lille's downtown in north France holds several luxury houses.

Cannes, Nice, St. Tropez and Montecarlo, year by year host thousands of socialites, artists, potentates and personalities who come up for events including the Cannes Film Festival and the NRJ Music Awards. For that reason, the fashion houses have taken advantage of establishing boutiques in ostentatious districts of the French riviera,

Fashion shows[edit]

Main article: Paris Fashion Week

The Paris Fashion Week takes place twice a year after the Milan Fashion Week. It is the last and usually the most anticipated city of the fashion month. Dates are determined by the French Fashion Federation. Currently, the Fashion Week is held in the Carrousel du Louvre.

Monaco[edit]

Montecarlo Fashion Week (Fashion Fair Week)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Why is Paris the Capital of Fashion - LoveToKnow - Women's Fashion
  2. ^ French fashion in Paris- Paris Digest
  3. ^ Kelly, 181. DeJean, chapters 2-4.
  4. ^ DeJean, 35-6, 46-7, 95.
  5. ^ DeJean, 48.
  6. ^ Perez, Stanis (2003). "Les Rides D'apollon: L'evolution Des Portraits de Louis XIV" [Apollo's Wrinkles: The Evolution of Portraits of Louis XIV]. Revue D'histoire Moderne et Contemporaine 50 (3): 62–95. ISSN 0048-8003. 
  7. ^ See also Schmitter, Amy M. (2002). "Representation and the Body of Power in French Academic Painting". Journal of the History of Ideas 63 (3): 399–424. doi:10.1353/jhi.2002.0027. ISSN 0022-5037. JSTOR 3654315. 
  8. ^ a b c d Dress During Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI 1643-1789
  9. ^ "Marie Antoinette Biography". Chevroncars.com. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  10. ^ Fraser 2001, pp. xviii, 160; Lever 2006, pp. 63–5; Lanser 2003, pp. 273–290
  11. ^ Johnson 1990, p. 17
  12. ^ "Reticule". Austentation: Regency Accessories. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  13. ^ Alfred Richard Allinson, The Days of the Directoire, J. Lane, (1910), p. 190
  14. ^ Kelly, 101.
  15. ^ Vaughan 2011, pp. 47, 79.
  16. ^ Caroline Weber, "Fashion", in Dauncey (2003), pp. 193-95.
  17. ^ "Yves Saint Laurent, Who Has Died Aged 71, was, with Coco Chanel, regarded as the Greatest Figure in French Fashion in the 20th Century, and could Be Said to have Created the Modern Woman's Wardrobe". The Daily Telegraph (UK). 1 June 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  18. ^ Caroline Weber, "Fashion", in Dauncey (2003), pp. 193-95.
  19. ^ Weber, p. 196.
  20. ^ Weber, p. 195.
  21. ^ "Yves Saint-Laurent". Goodreads. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  22. ^ Yves Saint Laurent's body put to rest Fashion Television.
  23. ^ Weber, p. 198.
  24. ^ http://www.en.lyon-france.com/Things-to-do/Shopping-Fashion
  25. ^ a b http://www.es.lyon-france.com/Actividades-y-ocio/Compras-y-moda
  26. ^ http://www.gusplanet.net/2008/07/marsella-aquella-vieja-dama-del.html

References[edit]

  • Dauncey, Hugh, ed., French Popular Culture: An Introduction, New York: Oxford University Press (Arnold Publishers), 2003.
  • DeJean, Joan, The Essence of Style: How The French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour, New York: Free Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-7432-6413-6
  • Kelly, Michael, French Culture and Society: The Essentials, New York: Oxford University Press (Arnold Publishers), 2001, (a reference guide)
  • Nadeau, Jean-Benoît and Julie Barlow, Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong: Why We Love France But Not The French, Sourcebooks Trade, 2003, ISBN 1-4022-0045-5

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]