French fashion: How it came to define us?

A person’s identity can be seen through fashion, and like a person’s heritage, we must also look at their family tree, where they came from. For fashion it’s undoubtedly France, suggests Karen Rogers.

What do they think of me? Is it true what they say, you can’t judge a book by its cover? These are common questions posed to women of all ages.

As adolescents they seem more prominent but yet they manages to creep their way into our minds whenever we open a wardrobe.

The feeling that people are judging how we look has lasted longer than last season’s understated baroque prints seen at the Jonathan Saunders catwalk show (autumn/winter 2011).

But as for judghing a book by its cover. Well, I don’t think it’s true, because when watching the catwalk shows during the London fashion week or reading the March issue of Vogue, we see only the surface, we see the beauty in the new monochrome stripes by Marc Jacobs and we think people would like us if we had that jacket or dress.

It is classic psychology, the power of persuasion and advertising. When women get dressed every morning it is not just to put on clothes, it is to express ourselves. That is the definition of fashion, it is an expression of one’s identity that allows her to stand out from the crowd and show people who she is.

As the transcendent Coco Chanel once said “in order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different”.

However fashion is not just about what others will think of us, it is also about how we feel. How many of you get up in the morning and feel bloated, or feel happy and great about yourself?

Everyone has these feelings every day. When we put on clothes we are putting on our security blanket, we are putting on the one thing that will make us feel more comfortable.

This is ultimately our identity for that day.

When I am not at my most confident, I always turn to my trusted tracksuit bottoms and oversized jumper, just as I am sure many readers do.

Clothes help us to not only show people who we are but how we are feeling. Identity does not always mean where you come from or whether you are English or Irish, your identity is who you are. Clothes are the best way to allow people to get an understanding of you.

Clothes are not just a tool to show our best features, they are a lifestyle, they are our identity. Yves Saint- Laurent also believed in this philosophy “Dressing is a way of life”.

This quote from Yves Saint-Laurent is the epitome of the French fashion lifestyle. France has had this influence over us, to not just put on clothes but to wear them. French fashion is like our big sister, we look to her for advice and influence and because of this we can never deny is that France is the epicentre of high fashion.

Countries like America have evolved in the fashion industry but there is something timeless about the French elegance and sophistication.

French fashion has had the largest influence over the fashion industry and it is only fitting that it is and always will be the fashion capital of the world. France has turned out some of the many famous designers we know and love such as Charles Frederick Worth, even though he was English, he created his styles in France and also introduced the world to the seasonal fashion trends we hold so dear today.

French fashion has paved the way for many trends and designers of the world. It began with Charles Frederick Worth and led to the likes of Coco Chanel with her eternal “little black dress” and the iconic “Chanel suit”.

This style did not stay in France for long, it travelled throughout Europe and spread across the waters to America, soon the entire world was dressing like the French.

We have heard of the term globalisation and it seems to always involve the economy or marketing but here we can clearly see here that globalisation is the only term needed to describe the extension of French style.

Karen Rogers is a 21 year-old student in her final year of college in Waterford Institute of Technology. She is studying a major degree in French and a minor degree in Psychology and is interested in fashion as a culture, especially in France.

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