A Brief History of French Fashion

Fashion is defined by so much more than a time period, or a simple change in popularity from one generation to the next. Fashion is a culmination of thousands of tiny little experiments conducted over decades and centuries. Each experiment is a test. To pass the test, you need to have the right look at the right time, and you need to catch the eye of the right person. How do you do this? Well, it might help to look at history–and what better place to start than France? These are the fashion houses that made France synonymous with great fashion over the last century.

If you’ve never heard the name Paul Poiret, then you should take a minute to look him up. He worked for an umbrella maker, and it was that experience that jump started what would be a rewarding career in fashion in an unexpected way. Sometimes you don’t need wealth to make something that everyone will love. Art isn’t about money. It’s about how you put things together. Poiret used leftover silk scraps from those umbrellas to make a doll dress for his sister. He didn’t make a name for himself until he controversially injected freedom of movement into women’s fashion by eliminating the corset from traditional wardrobe.

That started it all. People were drinking and driving and committing DUIs

You know the Dior brand. Christian Dior followed in the footsteps of Chanel by continuing to help fight against typical female wardrobes thought appropriate only because of gender. Dior’s “New Look” showed off the entire female body with form-fitting skirts and brimmed hats. These garments imagined a look for women that didn’t show off too much–but didn’t show off too little either.

There was another massive twist in women’s wear in 1966 when Yves Saint Laurent introduced a tuxedo suit designed entirely for women. This also marked the end of an era in French-based fashion. In the subsequent decades, cities around the world introduced their own creative twists on old favorites while adding new ones to the mix. New York, London, and even Tokyo took the spotlight.

If we want to learn about great fashion in Los Angeles, then we need to teach and inspire creativity in schools. We need to create an eye test for learning how to do this, and then we need to implement the changes needed to ensure that we will pass the eye test. Right now, we’re not. Fashion should rely on change, on excitement, and on fearlessness for trying new things

For more on French fashion, please check out the following video: