The French Secret
French ethos towards dressing is one of quality over quantity, as a French woman will think nothing of buying a classic designer dress costing 600 Euros because she knows it will last and stay in vogue for years.
Unlike British fashion which chops and changes every six months, French fashion is that of longevity and sophistication that never goes out of style. This mentality is summed up beautifully by the French designer Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘fashion fades but style is eternal’.
Although overall style differs between nationalities, haute couture French designers do extremely well commercially; especially with reviews from International and European style critics. The secret to the success of Chanel, Nina Ricci and Lanvin et al? Maybe it’s that they hold strong associations of the allure and glamour of Paris, the birth place of haute couture, the little black dress and Coco Chanel’s empire.
Or maybe it’s the fact that collections produced by French designers transcribe and speak to an audience on a wider scale than their European and American counterparts. Whatever the reason behind the brands’ success, it shows no signs of waning and is the reason why Paris is the fashion week to which the critics pay most attention.
A Blend of Two Cultures
Although the French may snub the British concept of fast fashion it has caught the attention of creative directors at the big fashion houses as a potential market to capitalise on. Most recently Lanvin have teamed up with H&M and produced a collection supposedly in the style of the haute couture original. Being one of the most celebrated high fashion houses in Paris (it is credited for reviving Parisian fashion after the style slump during World War II) this didn’t come without its controversy – critics loyal to the original slated it.
The collection has been a commercial success, however, selling out in the flagship H&M London store in hours. What some might dub as a watered down version of a classic, the Lanvin and H&M merger has made the label accessible to a larger audience for whom a £3,100 evening dress is a pipedream. What the collection provided was an attainable version of the look, usually reserved for actresses seen in French cinema.
The aforementioned designer continues to produce heavenly, but sky high priced collections, which the average student probably couldn’t justify buying. However, the French philosophy, which they advocate of classic pieces over passing trends, is one which is certainly affordable and ever stylish.