Bastille Day has put us in a Francophile mood. It reminded us of all the reasons we (and fashion in general) love France.
Is it the Breton tees? The Haute Couture? That effortlessly sexy undone look all French women just magically seem to possess? Maybe it's just the sheer luxury of all things French.
In our ranking of the top luxury brands, all but three were French companies. Luxury pervades French culture. New York has sporty and cool, London has experimental, Milan has quirky classics, and Paris has over-the-top, no-holds-barred Fashion.
Click through to find out exactly what we swoon over from French culture and let us know what French exports you love!
The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and Its Admitted Designers
Haute Couture is undoubtedly the greatest fashion in the world, and it exists in France with legal status. To be admitted to the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture one must create made-to-order clothing that requires at least one fitting, have 15 full time employees at an atelier in paris, and produce a show each season with at least 35 looks. (Uhm, Givenchy HC was only 10 looks...)
The brands included in Haute Couture are the best of French fashion. Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Alaïa among them, these design houses are what keep the aspirational element of French fashion alive today. They are also among the most well known labels in the world. Think that's a coincidence? Think again.
LVMH & Louis Vuitton
It's safe to say that without LVMH, fashion would not exist like it does today. They are the majority investors in the top fashion houses (and the most profitable), like Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Givenchy, Céline, Bulgari, and the shining star of its empire, Louis Vuitton.
Vuitton itself has come to define new French luxury, with artist collaborations, sexy prêt-à-porter shows, and the one of most extensive lines of luxury goods in the world. If you love something, Vuitton makes a version of it, from cigar cases to suitcases.
The fashion Bible. Never scared to take a risk, Vogue Paris has been shocking the fashion world (a hard bunch to startle) since 1910.
Perhaps the best thing about VP is that when it finds a good recipe for success, it sticks with it, repeatedly featuring Daria Werbowy, Freja Beha Erichsen, Lara Stone, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Eniko Mihalik and Kate Moss in the pages of the glossy.
Colette is a fashion mecca. Bringing Parisians the best of each season's collections as well as the most unique and trendy collaborations, Colette transcends the concept of a retail store. Run by Sarah (seen in the bottom right of our collage), Colette doubles as a party space, music venue, eatery, display showroom, and hangout for fashion's most elite. If you want to know if something is cool, just see if it's at Colette.
You can't talk about luxury or Frenchness without talking about Hermes. (It's the #2 luxury brand in the world, after Vuitton.) I don't really have to say anything to accompany this slide - the Birkins and scarves speak for themselves. (But I will say the Birkin waitlist was once 6 years long.)
While Chanel is already listed under Haute Couture, the French brand has attained a legendary status that merits its own slide. It's probably one of the first three things that come to mind when ones thinks of Paris. (Even my NFL-loving Dad knows who Karl Lagerfeld is.) Through fragrances, beauty, and the 2.55 bag, Chanel has become a fashion phenomenon. Karl Lagerfeld's kingly status has helped out too. I mean, he is known as the "Kaiser."
Lanvin. Just the name itself sends shudders down our spines. Alber Elbaz's new take on the historic French house is going to be remembered forever. The calculated carefree attitude and the masterful tailoring are all signatures of what it means to be à la mode.
Yves Saint Laurent the man is perhaps one of the most beloved figures in the history of fashion. Building his brand around the exotic and unusual, YSL heralded in a new wave of chicness. Today the YSL brand is known for Pilati's rigorous interpretations of YSL classics and a few items that the fashion world cannot live without, among them the Palais Pump and the YSL Manifesto.
Fashion icon doesn't even come close to describing Brigitte Bardot. She was a cultural movement. A tidal wave of big-bosomed, blonde sex appeal that overtook the world. There are so many gamine pixies form the 60s, but there is only one Brigitte Bardot. (Two if you count Lara Stone as her younger twin...)
Cannes film Fest
Sportsmen have the Olympics, fashion followers have Cannes. It's one of the rare chances to see Haute Couture in action as well as a place where actresses aren't afraid to experiment. People may fuss over the Oscars, but Cannes is where the fashion really happens.
Madeleine Vionnet Madeleine Vionnet did for fashion what Einstein did for physics. I mean, she created the bias cut. Her free-form, Grecian inspired dresses set the precedent for contemporary fashion to exist. This is a woman that could make an entire dress with only one seam. Her designs were mathematically precise and notoriously complicated - sometimes she would have to send dressers to get women in and out of them!
We're obsessed! The frou-frou frocks represent the new wave of young French design, with Guillaume Henry at the helm of the legendary house. Whereas the French Old Guard has all the pomp and clout, Carven is a new take on what it means to be a French design house in the 21st century.
Isabel Marant epitomizes French cool. From the clothes are simple, wearable, and effortless, but still devastatingly chic. Plus everyone's trying to be like Emmanuelle Alt nowadays, and Isabel Marant is basically her fashion baby.