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 History of French Fashion

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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

Dior - Three Volume Slipcase Book Set Dior by Yves Saint Laurent Book
Assouline Publishing Dior - Three Volume Slipcase Book Set Assouline Publishing Dior by Yves Saint Laurent Book
In three retrospective volumes presented in a collectible slipcase, Asslouline's Dior captures the most enduring images from each decade of the brand's rich history. Immortalizing Dior's fashion, fine jewelry, and fragrance collections. Of all the great Parisian couture houses, Dior is perhaps the most famous and prestigious in the world, embodying Christian Dior's sublime vision of femininity, which Saint Laurent elaborated and evolved into the beginning of the tumultuous decade of the 1960s. Featuring beautiful photographs by Laziz Hamani, this impressive volume encompasses Yves Saint Laurent's most iconic haute couture designs for the house of Dior. Esteemed fashion journalist Laurence Benaļm eloquently recounts details and anecdotes behind more than 30 selected pieces.


Dior Book by Marc Bohan    
Assouline Dior Book by Marc Bohan Rizzoli  Dior by Roger Vivier Rizzoli Parisian Chic Journal
Dior by Marc Bohan encompasses Marc Bohan's most iconic haute couture creations for the renowned house, from 1961 to 1989, with his understated elegance and soft, feminine silhouettes beloved by socialites, celebrities, and royalty. Featuring beautiful photographs by Laziz Hamani and eloquent text by fashion journalist Jerome Hanover, this marvelous volume provides insight into Bohan's inspirations and influences throughout nearly thirty years designing for the house of Dior. This is the third volume in the unprecedented series of books devoted to each designer of the prestigious house of Dior since its inception. A celebration of the collaboration between two design legends, Christian Dior and Roger Vivier, spotlighting vintage shoes of luxurious glamour. This beautifully crafted volume highlights the outstanding shoe designs that sprang from the iconic collaboration between two French fashion legends, Christian Dior and Roger Vivier. Spanning from the 1950s, when Monsieur Dior first met the renowned footwear designer, throughout the entire course of this prodigious partnership until the early 1960s, dazzling vintage shoe designs pop off the pages in all their glamorous glory and elaborate modernity. With over three hundred exclusive photographs of jewel-encrusted slippers, sculptural kitten heels, and other designs embellished with lace, feathers, and more, accompanied by an engaging text penned by shoe historian Elizabeth Semmelhack, this latest title is a must-have addition to the libraries of fashion and shoe lovers everywhere. Ines de la Fressange, quintessential Parisienne and New York Times best-selling author of the Parisian Chic series, has created an exquisite stationery line that brings a luxurious French touch to daily life. With a ribbon tie closure and cloth binding, this beautifully crafted leatherette hardcover, lined notebook is an ideal personal diary, travel journal, keepsake or gift. An invitation to record life's precious moments and store favorite mementos, the notebook's accordion airmail envelope pocket is the perfect place to stow business cards, inspirational clippings and other treasured objects.


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, 2019

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