The top Paris fashion brands, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Chanel and Dior, are world famous. Many lesser known fashion houses maintain the French touch mixing elegance and design. Great new brands are created every year and justify the reputation of Paris as the world's fashion capital. French shoe brands. French handbag brands. More French fashion facts.
Louis Vuitton was founded in 1854 as a luxury luggage producer. Today, Louis Vuitton is above all famous for its handbags. The LV monogram appears on most of its products, ranging from luxury trunks and leather goods to ready-to-wear, shoes, watches, jewelry, accessories, sunglasses and books. Louis Vuitton is one of the world's leading international fashion houses. Louis Vuitton has more than 460 stores worldwide.
Louis Vuitton flagship store is at 101 Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris. This multistorey store is a must do for fashion lovers and shoppers in the City of Lights. Louis Vuitton has a 700 m² museum near Paris. On the premises dating back to 1860, you can discover exceptional collectibles related with the brand. Museum web site.
Louis Vuitton was born in 1821 in a small town in the Jura, close to Switzerland. Son of a carpenter, he was very comfortable handling tools. At the age of 14, Louis Vuitton decided to leave his family to go to Paris. He then traveled 400 km on foot. In Paris, he worked as an apprentice to make travel chests. Very skilled with his hands, Louis Vuitton was entrusted with the most notorious clients. In 1852, aged 31, he took care of Empress Eugenie, for whom he made an entire travel kit. In 1854, Louis Vuitton founded his own company and opened the first Louis Vuitton boutique. During his apprenticeship, the creator was able to observe the changes of his time. With the rise of transportation, travel was becoming increasingly popular among the upper class. Louis Vuitton made one observation: domed trunks were unsuitable for stacking in transport. He then created the flat trunk, which was more practical. Quickly, the idea was a success. A few years later, Louis Vuitton was again inspired by travel to develop his activity: the opening of the Suez Canal offered the designer new customers eager for French luxury. The Maharajahs and the kings of the East then became the best showcase for the brand. In 1870, Georges, Louis's son, developed the label abroad. Louis Vuitton was then present in London, then in New York. This expansion introduced Louis Vuitton's major problem: counterfeiting. To fight against this scourge, the Louis Vuitton company attempted several actions, in particular by creating exclusive prints, without success. When Louis Vuitton died in 1892, his son Georges took over the family business. Helped by his descendants, Georges was constantly innovating. In 1987, the company merged with Moët (Champagne) and Hennessy (Cognac) to create LVMH, world leader in the luxury sector.
Hermès began in 1837 as a producer of horse harnesses and bridles, which it still produces today. Hermès is nowadays associated with supreme craftsmanship and elegant designs. The brand is deeply entrenched as a quality and refinement brand. It has always shunned mass production, manufacturing lines and outsourcing.
Each product coming out reflects the hard work put into it. All Hermès products are made almost entirely in France in workshops placing strong emphasis on quality. They are entirely manufactured by hand by only one craftsman. Hermès is now a full-blown fashion house.
Its most famous products are Carre Hermès, the most famous silk scarves in the world.
Founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermès, a saddler and harness maker, the brand had a small shop for horse equipment in Paris. Rewarded with the first class medal at the Universal Exhibition of 1867, Thierry Hermès had thirty years later among his clients kings and presidents of the whole world, including Tsar Nicholas II. In 1880, under the impetus of his son Emile-Charles, the Hermès house moved to the legendary 24, rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré. It reinvented itself, in 1918, around luggage and leather goods in the face of the boom in the automotive industry, and introduced the zipper in the manufacture of bags in France. The grandsons of Thierry Hermès, Adolphe and Emile Maurice, innovated in belts, gloves, jewelry, female and male sewing, while cultivating the artisanal know-how of the brand, mixing demanding hand-made, noble materials and daring design inspired by the equestrian world. They created the first best-sellers in contemporary fashion with, in 1937, the Carré Hermès silk scarf and the Kelly bag. In the 1950s, it was the turn of Robert Dumas and Jean-René Guerrand, sons-in-law of Émile Hermès, to take the reins of the family luxury brand. They launched the first fragrance, L’Eau d'Hermès in 1951, and made their mark with the choice of the orange color as the brand's emblem. In 1966, the two men swapped haute-couture for ready-to-wear. A fundamental turning point that will be accompanied, 12 years later, by the establishment of a global Hermès distribution network. In the 1990s, Hermès, synonymous with excellence and timeless luxury, appointed avant-garde Martin Margiela as artistic director of the women's collections.Layered trench coats, leather sneakers, oversized jackets, for 7 years the Belgian designer distilled his conceptual fashion in the genes of the century-old brand. He was replaced by Jean Paul Gaultier, from 2004 to 2010, who presented abundant colorful collections, imbued with nomadism, before being followed by the sleek and minimal silhouettes of Christophe Lemaire from 2011 to 2014. Since then, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski took over. Focusing less on trends than on a form of consistency, Hermès also continues to ride on the inexhaustible success of a few cult pieces. In addition to the mythical Carré Hermès silk square with countless patterns invented in 1937, Kelly and Birkin bags never cease to arouse desire, just like the Cape Code watch. The Hermès brand style is also a certain conception of furniture and decoration, with the launch of La Maison in 2011, bringing together tableware, designer furniture and interior linens around unique pieces.
Chanel is a French high fashion house that specializes in haute couture and ready-to-wear clothes. In her youth before WW2, the founder Gabrielle Chanel gained the nickname Coco from her time as a singer.
As a fashion designer, Coco Chanel catered to women’s taste for elegance in dress, with blouses and suits, trousers and dresses, and jewelry of simple design, that replaced the opulent, over-designed, and constrictive clothes and accessories of 19th-century fashion.
The Chanel products have been personified by fashion models and actresses, including Inès de La Fressange, Catherine Deneuve, Carole Bouquet, Vanessa Paradis, Nicole Kidman and Marilyn Monroe.
Karl Lagerfeld, born in Germany, was the creative director of the Chanel brand from 1983 until his death in 2019.
The two iconic Chanel stores in Paris are 31, rue Cambon 75001 and 51, avenue Montaigne 75008.
Coco Chanel, was born in 1883 in France. She spent her childhood in the markets with her father, a peddler, specializing in work costumes. When her mother died in 1895, she was entrusted to an orphanage. At 18, she managed to get noticed by a son of a good family, Étienne Balsan, and followed him to his property near Paris, but the marriage proposal did not come. Her new love, the Englishman Boy Capel, allowed her to open her first hat shop in Paris in 1910. Artists and women of society flocked to her salons, while her creations were published in fashion newspapers. She opened a new boutique in Deauville on the Normandy coast in 1913 to disseminate this sporty, relaxed but always elegant fashion, which freed women from the boned bustier and scaffolding hats.
Her clothing finds were acclaimed during the First World War, a time when elegant women sought both efficiency and femininity. She then created her fashion house in Biarritz and continued her audacity by designing sets in supple jersey with barely marked waistlines, and even revealing the ankles of the ladies who quickly adopted her boyish hairstyle. During the Great War, she moved to luxury resorts far from the war, where the upper middle class found themselves.
She then won Paris, in particular thanks to the circle of Russian emigrants in which Chanel invited herself by bonding with the son of Tsar Alexander II, the Grand Duke Dimitri. The time had come for sobriety, the structuring of forms, and androgyny. The collections presented by Coco Chanel in her new Parisian building on rue Cambon, with mirrored walls, were there to satisfy women in search of modernity. In 1926 the first "little black dress" whose simplicity made people cringe became the Rolls of fashion. Gabrielle Chanel was presented in 1925 to the Duke of Westminster, the richest man in the UK. She became her mistress and, thanks to him, seized tweed, rows of pearls and London good society. Listening to her time, she translated the liberalization of the female body through the creation of unisex fashion. Wealthy women, who were discovering the joys of sport and leisure, threw themselves on these pants which finally left them free to move. The strict fashion of the Roaring Twenties was followed by the long evening satin dress and the pale shades of the 1930s.
In 1920, Chanel launched the star of perfumes, Number 5. The famous nose of the Greats of Russia, Ernest Beaux, presided over the development of this subtle blend, the fifth of the samples presented to the seamstress. For the first time, the world of fashion and that of perfume joined together to create one of the biggest luxury success stories in the world. The most prominent stars jostle to embody this daring, liberated and sensual woman who, like Marylin, only wears "a few drops of N° 5" for any pajama.
The years that followed were those of the ordeal for Chanel: in 1935, Paul Iribe, who wanted to marry her, died before her eyes of a heart attack. In the world of couture, new rivals come to weaken her power, such as her great rival Elsa Schiaparelli. Then the war was there again. The house was closed. Coco obtained from the Germans a suite for the year at the Ritz hotel. She maintained a liaison with a German officer. She also tried to use the laws on "aryanization" to rob the Wertheimer brothers, Jewish owners of the Chanel house, refugees in the United States, but her maneuver failed. She was recruited in 1941 by the Abwehr, the intelligence service of the German army, under the code name "Westminster". These compromises with the Nazi occupier earned her at the Liberation to be worried until the intervention of Churchill in her favor. The Liberation was followed by eight years of exile in Switzerland, during which a young couturier named Christian Dior launched the tidal wave of the “new look” and pulverized with his hourglass figure and his balconies all the efforts of Coco to liberate the body. But nothing could bring down Chanel, more tyrannical and tenacious than ever. In 1954, she presented a new collection. It is an indisputable failure. It would take hard work and the support of the Americans, crazy about her famous little tweed suit, to regain her place in fashion at more than seventy years. She died in 1971.
In 1946, Christian Dior founded the Dior fashion house. The designer opened his first boutique at the now legendary 30 avenue Montaigne in Paris. The avant-garde designer gave birth to a new silhouette: delicate shoulders and a high chest with a belted waist and full skirts that fell to the mid-calf. By 1957, the Christian Dior fashion house provided more than half of French haute couture exports.
Christian Dior died suddenly in 1957 of a heart attack. Twenty-one year-old Yves Saint Laurent took over the Parisian label and after only having worked at Dior for two years, the young designer released his first collection as creative director to rave reviews. Famous designers have been working at Dior, including John Galliano.
The flagship store of Dior is located at 30, avenue Montaigne 75008. Perfumes are sold 52, avenue des Champs-Elysées 75008.
Christian Dior (1905 - 1957) was born in Grandville into a family of industrialists. He made his professional debut in an art gallery, where he began to draw some sketches and paintings. Christian Dior's career in the world of haute couture began in 1938, when he was hired by fashion designer Robert Piguet as a pattern maker and designer. He then experienced his first success thanks to his black and white houndstooth suit. During the war, the couturier was employed by another haute couture house, that of Lucien Lelong in Paris.
In 1945, Christian Dior met Marcel Boussac. As he was convinced of Christian Dior's talent, he decided to invest 60 million francs for the creation of a haute couture house. This was the opening of the first Dior house, at the famous address of 30 avenue Montaigne in Paris.
The first collection was presented in 1947, alongside Pierre Cardin. It will be referred to as "New Look" by the editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar, because of its style which revolutionized the codes of femininity of the time. Indeed, this New Look collection was a complete break with the clothing styles offered until then, especially by the House of Chanel. The New Look style was characterized mainly by fitted jackets with rounded shoulders, as well as skirts falling below the knees. The New Look experienced phenomenal success around the world, definitely ensuring the prestige and fame of the Dior house. A success that surprised Christian Dior himself, incredulous in front of such sudden glory. The end of the New Look came in 1953, replaced by the “H” or “Flat Look” line. However, the spirit of the New Look is regularly repeated in the Dior collections, for example in 2009 by John Galiano or in 2011 by Bill Gaytten.
1947 was also the year of the creation of the Christian Dior perfume house, with the first fragrance with the sweet name of "Miss Dior". Christian Dior set out to conquer the American market in 1948, with the opening of a boutique in New York. It was then the start of franchises and licensing, allowing manufacturers to brand their productions with the name of the famous designer. The name Christian Dior was then widely distributed. Soon Christian Dior also became the couturier of the stars of the time, and in particular Marylin Monroe and Marlène Dietrich who would wear his creations in their films. In 1957, the Dior house was responsible for more than 50% of French fashion brands exports.
The fashion designer’s meteoric rise came to an abrupt end in October 1957, with his death from a heart attack. The succession at the head of the Dior house was ensured by the young Yves Saint Laurent, who had joined Christian Dior two years earlier. Yves Saint Laurent, now artistic director, had just enough time to sign a few collections, including a very successful one: the “trapeze line”, before having to leave the house of Dior to do his military service in 1960.
Our selection of what we consider the best brands, the brands we love and wear in Paris, is not limitative.
Cyrillus is designing perfect classical French apparel of prime quality. Their well made clothes are ideal for families with children. Everybody can wear Cyrillus.
French fashion brand Armor-Lux is known for the originality of its collections inspired by the ocean in Brittany. They provide a mix of quality and tradition.
Tara Jarmon clothes are adapted to elegant and dynamic women. The Tara Jarmon French fashion brand is the embodiment of feminine simplicity. You will find fantastic evening dresses in their stores.
Don't miss the inventive king of sportswear, Lacoste, famous for the green crocodile on their polos.
For kids, we warmly recommend Petit-Bateau, a traditional quality French brand, also selling excellent women clothes. Du Pareil au Même is another brand for kids.
Camaieu has affordable and trendy woman's fashion.
Well informed Parisians know Sezane is the trend as far as young woman fashion is concerned. As they say, Sezane offers a different kind of fashion. 100% on-line, no intermediaries, straight from the most beautiful workshops to the customer. Original creations, an obsession with the perfect cut, the quest for the most magnificent fabrics. Sezane proposes four main collections each year which are completed each month with new "capsule collections."
Their "Apartement" is a unique concept, more a showroom than a store. You can try on clothes and order online with 48 hour home delivery. Not the most practical, but the place is crowded with young parisians. This is Paris.
L'Appartement 1, rue Saint-Fiacre 75002 Paris. From Tuesday to Saturday, from 11am to 8pm
Sezane web site
Paris women have a reputation for elegance. This is justified and you will see that in Paris. One of the french attributes of elegance is the handbag women carry in all circumstances.
As most women buy at least a handbag each year, a number of typically French handbag brands are competing fiercely to provide the best quality and stay at the top of what is fashionable in Paris.
Gérard Darel is famous for their lovely and high quality handbags. See other French handbag brands.
Christian Louboutin is the most extraordinary French shoe designer. His footwear incorporates shiny, red-lacquered soles that have become his signature.Louboutin helped bring stilettos back into fashion in the 1990s and 2000s. The designer's professed goal has been to "make a woman look sexy, beautiful, to make her legs look as long as [he] can".
Among the French brands of shoes, we also recommend Jonak and their boots, casual Lacoste shoes.
Du Pareil au même
Paul & Joe
Zadig & Voltaire
The luxury brands, Chanel, Dior, Hermès, Vuitton, have their main stores in Avenue Montaigne and rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The lesser known French fashion brands which maintain the French style combining elegance and design can be found in Paris Department Stores, Paris Shopping Malls and in Le Marais Paris shopping streets. Champs-Elysées shops are the largest and include stores of the most important international fashion brands.
Monoprix retail stores have excellent French fashion at reasonable prices. Check Monoprix fashion web site.
During the reign of King Louis XIV between the mid 1600s to early 1700s, there was a significant boost in the country’s economic power as he ceased the import of foreign goods. The King encouraged French industries to become the largest producers of luxury fabrics such as silk, lace, ribbons and other fine textiles and export them throughout Europe. French fashion consequently rose to prominence and recognition on a worldwide scale. Today, Paris is home to one of the largest textile industries in the world, working with numerous couture design houses and manufacturing facilities. French designers continue to experiment with fashion, using different styles and numerous textiles, while starting new trends that influence future generations of the fashion industry, as well as fashion devotees. Discover French fashion history in Arts Decoratifs Museum near the Louvre and Palais Galliera, Paris Fashion Museum.