For Discerning World Travelers
What’s on your list of top things to do in Paris? If it’s not already there, add fashion in Paris, now.
True, for the average tourist, Parisian fashion isn’t always an automatic addition to their list of must do things.
In Paris, the average tourist will choose the obvious attractions.
Everyone makes the pilgrimage to the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées, Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre or d’Orsay museums.
For sure, they’re all “must do” things when visiting Paris.
But for the discerning traveler seeking a truly wonderful time in Paris, you’ll want to go further.
Do more than see the iconic sites. Go deeper. Immerse yourself in Paris’ unique history and culture.
Get an intimate feeling for what makes this city tick and experience the Parisian way. Discover why Paris is the top destination for world travelers.
Now to guarantee that happens, you’ll want to indulge in what Paris is most famous for; excellence in luxury and refinement.
Going deeper into the exquisite and fascinating world of fashion in Paris is also a must.
What could be more essential? Imagine dining at a fine Parisian restaurant with a glass of exceptional French wine in the nude!
Not happening, I know.
Let’s dress that idea up more clearly.
Here’s why going deep into fashion in Paris is the natural compliment to your perfect trip to Paris.
Paris Fashion, You’ll Bring With You Wherever Your Go …
Every year, millions travel to Paris.
I think last year there were something like 85 million.
That’s a lot of people.
It’s also a lot of clothes making the journey from around the globe.
Pouring through Paris’ airports and train stations daily are trousers, skirts, t-shirts, jackets, shoes, lingerie, purses, handbags and accessories of all kinds.
For many of those fashion items, arriving in Paris is something of a “home coming”.
“Why?”, you might ask.
Well, because the fashion styles and trends they represent so often have their origins in this City of Lights, Paris.
We take our fashion for granted but …
We All Have Parisian Style …
There’s a fair chance you’re wearing “Parisian Fashion” right now.
Many of the items of fashion we put on each day were conceived in the minds of designers plying their masterful trade here, in Paris.
Any woman wearing a smoking jacket, for example, should thank Yves-Saint Laurent. The whole “menswear for women” movement owes much of its force to the creative energy of YSL during the 1960s and 70s.
YSL, in turn, drew much inspiration from Coco Gabriel Chanel in the 1920s and 30s.
Talking of Coco Chanel, if you have a “Little Black Dress” or something similar in your closet, thank her. Perhaps you have a chain-strapped handbag. For that, too, thank Coco Chanel.
There’s the one piece swimsuit, brought to you by Jean Patou.
Costume jewelry? Yes, Coco, again.
Stiletto heals? Well, go back a bit to the Royal Court of Louis XIV in the 17th-century. We have the French fashion designer, Roger Vivier, to thank.
Lingerie? Well, if we had more time we could have some fun touring the exploits of Marie-Antoinette on that one. Marie-Antoinette was everything that lingerie is today, with the exception of her most unfortunate end.
And what about anything Boho Chic? Now there’s an interesting one!
Didn’t think fashion had anything to do with global politics, economics or society? Think again.
Boho Chic, otherwise known as “Baba Cool” style, originated in France during the heady days of the 1970s. The global “Oil Crisis” of 1973 hit hard. Economic times were tough. Money was scarce, especially for youth. Rebellion was in the air. Cold War made everyone a little gloomy. Watch out, the apocalypse! But Parisian youth had an answer to the doom and gloom. They vented their rebellion through style. On went the knitted scarves, ripped military surplus gear and torn jackets. The style spread worldwide.
Like so many of these ignition points in fashion history, Paris has figured large. In fact, Paris has for a long time been a key agent in defining global fashion trends.
For this very reason, we often hear how …
Paris Is The Fashion Capital Of The World
Sure, there’s a lot of competition in the global fashion industry. Paris isn’t the only center of fashion, to be sure.
It’s true there are many new and vibrant fashion centers around the world. Many global cities vie for the status of world capital of fashion. Who could not marvel at the wonderful styles and fashion creations coming out of London, Milan and New York! There are also the rising stars, like Berlin, Beijing and Singapore.
But there’s still a special place for Paris.
OK, I’m biased. I live here. I’m proud and I’m going to say it loud and clear.
Paris is still the world capital of fashion,
… and here’s 4 very good reasons why.
N°1: The Pure Weight of Paris Fashion History
The story of fashion in Paris goes way back … centuries, in fact.
The 20th-century has been very important but it’s not when Paris gained its true status as world capital of fashion.
Let’s take a look at what was going on in Paris in the 1600s.
Funnily enough, changes in foreign travel that give us the best window into the world of change in Paris at that time.
A little travel literature will give us a snapshot of how Paris was emerging as world capital of fashion.
Sebastiano Locatelli was a wealthy Italian merchant who took a trip to Paris. It was 1664.
Now Sebastiano was not just any tourist. He was on a mission. Destined to enter the priesthood, Sebastiano wanted to check out Paris’ famous religious landmarks. On his must do things in paris, of course, the Notre Dame cathedral.
But stop. Wouldn’t you think Sebastiano would be so impressed by such a magnificent religious monument he’d fill the pages of his travel diary about it?
No, not exactly.
Instead, Sebastiano filled his travel diary with references to luxury, refinement, style, and … fashion.
Sebastiano was greatly impressed with the “vast number” of shops “full of every kind of merchandise imaginable”. He was particularly impressed by the “unusually attractive women” running most of those shops.
It wasn’t the cathedral that took most of his attention. The commerce in luxury, refinement, style, fashion and beauty did.
In fact, Sebastiano’s focus gives us a window into a major transformation taking place, right here in Paris, in 1664.
Paris was rapidly becoming Europe’s capital where you’d find the biggest assortment of goods and “absolutely to-the-minute styles”.
Shopping Paris’ luxury and fashion scene was being transformed from mundane experience into absolute “pleasure”.
Enter King Louis XIV, Master “Salesman” For Fashion in Paris
Going to visit the Palace at Versailles? Hope so, it’s fabulous.
Add it to your must do things in Paris list!
Now, while you’re there, imagine King Louis XIV. There he is, the Sun King, busy getting dressed (or rather being dressed) to the “nines”.
Here’s a picture of him (not at all overdressed for the occasion).
Now Louis XIV was pretty wise to power. He took himself (and most around him did too) to be the center of the universe. One has to look ones best when at the center of the universe, of course. The sun looks hot, right!
Anyway, so Louis XIV got together with politician Jean-Baptiste Colbert to seize the opportunity. As Minister of Finance, Colbert put a lot of effort into building up French industries and manufacturers. Fabrics, lace and mirrors were among the focal points of this effort.
By 1700, the all powerful French luxury goods industry was at the center of a new French economy. Louis XIV was in on the move, too. He’d wear and distribute the finest French fabrics to every member of his Court.
Here was a King who knew that when the most closely watched Parisians of their day were seen in public, they’d be showing off their finest new fabrics, made in France.
The Court of Louis XIV became a “catwalk”, showing off (advertising) his nations luxury goods to the world. Louis instinctively understood the mechanics that drives style and fashion.
Now King Louis also understood the importance of appearances. So in 1672, he authorized the publication of a new journal that would broadcast France’s new economic power to the world. Its editor, Donneau de Visé, started a niche never before covered within its pages. He started a style editorial. Through its pages, Paris fashion was broadcast to the world,
… and ever since, Paris has been viewed as the powerhouse of fashion.
The Long & Exuberant History of Fashion in Paris
In the 18th-century, haute couture as we know it today began to emerge. The rich and powerful back then told their designers what they wanted to wear. But that way didn’t last.
Unfortunately, the demanding excesses of the rich – like Marie Antoinette – didn’t go down to well with “the people”. This lead to rather terrible “undressing” from power during the French Revolution.
But fashion survived, of course.
By the 19th-century, the haute couture world changed. Instead of the rich dictating style to their designers, the designer began to take center stage.
Surprisingly, it was an Englishman who “fathered modern haute couture”. Charles Worth was his name.
Charles designed his own fashion pieces and attached his own label. Sound familiar? He also showed his creations on live models. Clients would come to approve or disapprove. The novelty was a success and other designers started copying his process.
It was now time for designers to dictate what was fashionable, initiating a whole new history of fashion … from Paris to the world.
The 20th-century brought us Poiret and then Chanel. And while the Second World War challenged Paris’ hegemony, the post-war period brought Christian Dior and later Yves Saint Laurent.
In the 1950s, Paris became a playground for Hollywood movies featuring fashionable modern women, like Audry Hepburn in Funny Face.
The fashion imaginary of Paris was projected across the planet, much like it is today when one special event hits the news.
… which brings us to the 2nd reason why Paris is the fashion capital of the world.
N°2: Paris Fashion Week
All that history culminates in a series of special events each year in Paris.
Above them all, it’s Paris Fashion Week that takes the star roll.
Paris Fashion Week is the fashion week of fashion weeks.
Want to go to Paris Fashion Week?
Sign up for our newsletter.
We’ll be letting you know how to get tickets for 2016, soon.
Now, it is true, the first fashion week took place in New York in 1954. But that event was modeled on the Parisian salons de couture.
Very quickly, Paris followed with it’s own Fashion Week. Today, it’s the grand finale of the Big 4, staring in London, then Milan and New York.
For 10 days in Paris, editors, photographers, models, bloggers and designers descend on the city in a fury of runways and glamorous “after parties”.
It’s the designers’ dream to show a collection in Paris. It’s like the gold medal for anyone’s fashion career.
Everyone who’s anyone in the billion dollar global industry of fashion wants to come to Paris Fashion Week.
… and once you’ve made it to the top, in Paris, you can set up your own fashion headquarters here.
Which takes us to the third reason why Paris is the fashion capital of the world.
N°3: Paris, Home To The World’s Top Designers & Labels
If you’re looking for the most amazing flagship stores of top labels like Chanel, Vuitton, Dior, Giverny or Celine, come to Paris.
Paris is home to the world’s most famous luxury and high-end labels. It’s here you’ll find the top designers plying their trade, like Karl Largerfeld at Chanel. There’s also Pierre Cardin, Chloé, jean Paul Gaultier, Hermés, Lanvin, Rochas, and Yves Saint Laurent.
And with their salons, there’s a rich supply of renowned craftspeople, masters in the field of couturier.
Students from far afield come to the city to study the craft at top schools like the French Fashion Institute, ESMOD or the renowned Maragoni Institute.
Many of the most talented stay on to build their own careers. Their creations will find way to the streets of Paris, another top reason why Paris remains fashion capital of the world.
N°4: Street Style and Fashion In Paris
Fashion has a very unique position in the popular consciousness of French people in general … and Parisians in particular.
Fashion, and being “fashionable”, seems like a natural state of being, a profound force in the social and cultural fabric.
Just take a walk around. Snap some pictures of passers by. Many fashion and trend photographers around the world do, sending their image reports back to fashion magazine headquarters around the world.
It’s quite easy for the Parisian to keep up appearances. The streets are filled with amazing little fashion boutiques, in addition to the grand flagship stores of more upper-market labels.
On the terraces and streets of Paris, you’ll get a fabulous free show of what’s coming in global trends.
Which brings us to the most important question.
How can you go further to access the very best fashion in Paris experience?
How To Explore Fashion in Paris …
The easiest way to enjoy Paris through fashion is to simply watch the passing parade.
Grab a glass of fine French wine, position yourself on a bistro terrace and revel in the free “catwalk”.
Or window shop some of the top streets where fashionable boutiques abound. Strolling avenue Montaigne, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Place Vendôme or rue Cambon.
Treat yourself, too. After all, it’s not every day you’re in Paris. Purchases a few wearable souvenirs. Always a joy ride, shopping Paris.
But don’t get too carried away. There are lots of other ways to enjoy fashion in Paris.
Here are 3 more top suggestions.
N°1: Visit Top Fashion Museums in Paris
Paris is famous for its museums. When it comes to fashion, it won’t let you down.
Here are 4 of our top picks to take your Paris fashion experience deeper.
(Also known as the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris)
Location: 10 avenue Pierre Ier de Serbie, 75016 Paris
This is where you’ll discover chic fine-art fashion. The museum displays 3 centuries of clothing, accessories and photography.
Over 90,000 awe-inspiring pieces on on view, dating from the 18th-century. Don’t miss some of the pieces from the Marie-Antoinette collection.
You’ll also see fashion items worn by Brigitte Bardot by Christian Dior. The famous Givenchy black dress worn by Aubrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is there, too.
Musée de la Mode et du Textile
(Also known as Les art décoratifs)
Location: 107, rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
This fashion museum is located in the Louvre’s Rohan and Marsan wings. It boasts an impressive collection of textiles from as far back as the 7th century. You’ll also find costumes from the Regency period up to the present.
Temporary exhibitions are also held here. In the past, Ralph Lauren’s work has been celebrated. So too has Jean-Paul Goude’s creations.
Fondation Pierre Bergé / Yves Saint Laurent
Location: 3 Rue Léonce Reynaud, 75116 Paris, France
This fabulous museum celebrates the work of YSL, of course. You’ll find his iconic piece, the Mondrian, which is a perfect expression of how fashion and art collide.
See also YSLs revolutionary designs, like the le smoking suit, the trapeze dress and the safari jacket.
There is also a space dedicated to contemporary artists like David Hockney, André Ostier and style mavens like Nan Kemper.
Musée Pierre Cardin
Location: 5 Rue Saint-Merri, 75004 Paris
This is a relatively new museum but impressive all the same. See the fashion of the swinging 60s, with pieces from powerhouse designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Emilio Pucci, André Courrèges and Perre Cardin.
There are futuristic space-age dresses with bold colors and geometric shapes, all works that defined the cultural decade.
There are thousands of pieces archived, hundreds on display, representing the originality and vision of the second half of the 20th-century.
N°2: Take An Exclusive Paris Fashion Tour
For the truly discerning, have an intimate encounter with the life and legand of Coco Chanel with a high-end fashion professional. Go beyind the scenes of the legendary designer and discover the world of Chanel Paris. Go inside Chanel’s high-end jewelry store and Chanel’s flagship store at 31 rue Cambon for the ultimate view of Parisian luxury.
N°3: Treat Yourself To A Private Fashion Shopping Tour
Paris is thriving with magnificent fashion boutiques. You’re bound to find your pleasure in style.
Why not discover the very best in Paris fashion shopping with your own personal shopping and French style guide?
Vintage fashion more your style? Take the ultimate vintage shopping tour in Paris with a professional guide specialized in rare and fine vintage. Find that unique piece from Chanel, Vuitton, Chloé, Celine, Giverny, Yves Saint Laurent or Dior, and more …
Put Fashion in Paris On Your List, Now
Fashion in Paris is a definite add to your list of top things to do in Paris.
It’s not just for the fashionistas or fashion shopper-holics. Nor is it a pleasure reserved for professionals of the fashion industry.
If you’re interested in going deep into what makes Paris tick, the city’s fashion history is a must.
If you’re interested in entrepreneurialism, delve into the amazing histories of fashion entrepreneurs like Luis Vuitton, Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.
And if you simply enjoy refined culture, then fashion in Paris is an absolute indulgence.
Take the opportunity, next time you’re in Paris, to discover the amazing world of fashion in Paris.
After all, you’re visiting the world capital of fashion!