5 French fashion designer brands that changed the world

5 French fashion designer brands that changed the world

by Clara Avrillier

Updated November 7, 2022

Paris is not only the capital of France, it is also the fashion capital of the world. This is why millions of people flock to the city to go shopping every year. Netflix even made a series about a fashionista getting to grips with life in the capital. The place is full of French fashion designer brands selling clothes, shoes, accessories, and so much more. 

Many of these wonderful famous French brands have changed the world with their designs. We have therefore put together a list of five French fashion brands to help you learn more about their history and their impact on the fashion world. 

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1. Louis Vuitton: one of the oldest French luxury fashion brands

Louis Vuitton was founded in 1854, making it one of the oldest luxury fashion brands in the world. The brand started out as a luggage company: the French designer created high-end, luxury trunks for travel with the now-renowned emblem LV. His next design was handbags – this quickly became the brand’s signature item, and that’s still the case today. These luxurious handbags are handmade, waterproof and fireproof. 

The French luxury fashion brand now also offers clothes, shoes and accessories, like any other brand, but it remains a leader in the world of handbags. 

2. Chanel: the ultimate French fashion brand

Of all the French luxury fashion brands out there, Chanel regularly appears on the lists of brands. This iconic French brand was set up in 1910 by fashion designer Coco Chanel – her aim was to provide fashionable clothes which were simple, elegant and comfortable. This set them apart from the restrictive and complicated clothes from other brands at the time. Coco introduced women to clothes which were both stylish and functional – and we thank her for that!

Coco started out with a selection of hats before introducing the now legendary Chanel No. 5 perfume in 1921. Nowadays, the French luxury fashion brand is famous for the Chanel suit, quilted handbags and Chanel pumps. 

3. Dior: the New Look

French fashion designer Chrisitan Dior founded his own fashion brand in 1946, although the official fashion house considers 1947 its official opening. This year marked the first Dior collection branded the “New Look”, a phrase spawned by Carmel Snow, the Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar. She felt his collection was revolutionary because after years of austerity due to the war, Dior’s clothes were opulent, extravagant and beautiful. For example, an average of 20 yards of fabric was used for each dress! Since then, the French luxury fashion brand has firmly established itself in the top tier of brands. 

4. Givenchy: Audrey Hepburn’s favorite designer

The friendship between Audrey Hepburn and French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy is well documented. The pair met when Hepburn was looking for an outfit for her role in the film Sabrina. Givenchy had set up his French fashion designer brand just a year earlier in 1952. After having dinner together, he was completely bowled over by the young actress, and she became his muse for the rest of his career. 

His most notable design was the little black dress for Hepburn’s famous film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961). This iconic dress is still a failsafe choice for fashion lovers around the world.

5. Yves Saint Laurent: Le Smoking

It is perhaps no surprise that Yves Saint Laurent created his own luxury fashion brand given that he started out as an assistant for Christian Dior when he was just 19 years old. In 1961, he founded his French fashion brand and is credited with creating ready-to-wear clothes. His major impact on the fashion world happened in 1966, when he released Le Smoking

Le Smoking is a tuxedo for women, produced at a time when it was still frowned upon for women to wear trousers. Many felt that Le Smoking helped empower women, which is what the famous French designer brand is known for.

Shopping therapy in France

Each of these famous French designer brands has contributed significantly to the world of fashion, helping the country become synonymous with fashion. For all our fashionistas out there dreaming of going shopping in Paris, learning French is a great starting point to help you navigate the fashion houses of the capital. Now who’s ready to shop till they drop?!

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Clara Avrillier is a writer, linguist and content manager living in the South of France. She loves getting out in nature, doing sport, reading and playing music. She also works with expats looking to move to France. Connect with her on LinkedIn

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