Over the past couple of years, there's been an explosion of style bloggers and influencers launching their own brands. By doing so, women like Arielle Charnas, Aimee Song and Olivia Palermo have been able to create new (and perhaps more stable) revenue streams and profit directly from their own influence while allowing their followers to buy directly into the aesthetics for which they became famous.
Overseas, influencers are catching onto this phenomenon and making it their own. In 2016, for instance, Jeanne Damas managed successfully to distill her long-revered effortless French-Girl aesthetic into Rouje, a contemporary clothing line that now also encompasses accessories, cosmetics and even a restaurant.
"I knew when I created Rouje that people would follow because of the demand my followers shared with me. The question was, how much?" Damas tells Fashionista. "We started with small collections that were sold out in one day, which in turn contributed more to the brand's success because of the demand that created. I designed my ideal wardrobe each season and I knew I had to love everything and wear what I created because being real and organic was key to the brand's success."
In the future, Damas hopes to further develop cosmetics, skin care and accessories and open new stores and as she embarks on her brand's next moves, others are beginning to follow in her footsteps.
The allure of looking like a French Girl is clearly undying, and French women who already have a platform have a unique opportunity to cash in on that: Who better to sell this look to us Americans than French girls themselves? Slowly but surely, more Parisian influencers are launching their own brands, each of which nail that aesthetic more authentically than all of the "fake" French brands who have tried to approximate it over the years. Read on to learn more about these chic women and their companies.
After years working as a fashion consultant, Parisian-born Chloé Harrouche decided to start Loulou de Saison, an Instagram account, where she shares her own outfits from fashion weeks and the streets of Paris as well as other inspiring images for her 168k followers. A year ago, she turned it into a brand that so far centers around luxe, minimalist knitwear and tailored pieces. "It started a year ago from a need to design pieces that I couldn't find anywhere else," she tells Fashionista. "I wanted to help women around me by designing collections that would make them feel comfortable in their everyday life — comfortable pieces to be worn with confidence and ease."
While the brand is undeniably French, Harrouche hopes to avoid falling into the French Girl trope. "The brand is French and Parisian because that's what I am, I design in Paris so it was more than natural that the French style is part of Loulou Studio. But what I wanted to avoid is to fall into the cliché, I prefer to see the brand as a modern Parisian," she explains. Her goal is to one day open Loulou Studio, the place, where art would sit alongside her products.
Price range: $40-$400
Shop at: Louloustudio.fr
With more than half a million followers, Anne Laure Mais has become one of Paris's major style stars since she launched her blog in 2009 and became a full-time influencer in 2014. And in 2018 her influence, good taste, education (she has a master's degree in economics and marketing) and experience in social media converged to launch Musier, a rapidly growing womenswear brand that has nearly 150k followers itself. The pieces are utterly desirable and surprisingly affordable, including cropped sweaters, chic trousers and dainty footwear.
Mais admits that Musier, frequently worn by her influencer friends, may have started off as an "Instagram brand," but today it stands on its own, stocked in respected department stores like Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. And its undeniable embodiment of French-girl style was inevitable: "Effortless, comfortable and timeless are the adjectives that characterize Musier, and I think that's also how French style is characterized as well," she notes. "Since the collections reflect my personal style, obviously it really became something very French. I am sure that's part of our success now." Next up, hopefully? A pop-up in the U.S.
Price range: $40-$150
Shop at: Musier-paris.com
Emma Rowen Rose, who says fashion has been her absolute passion and obsession since age 13, came up the traditional route in the fashion industry, studying design at Istituto Marangoni in Milan, then interning at brands including Chanel and Diane von Furstenberg before going to work for Alessandra Rich. Her plan was always to design for others — "My dream was to become the creative director of an iconic brand, and it still is partially!" she says — but when she decided to design a small capsule collection for her portfolio and post it on social media, the response was too strong to ignore. "I got a lot of requests from influencers/press/buyers and thought maybe this was what I was supposed to do." She launched Rowen Rose in 2018
Though she has a large following and has found success promoting the brand on Instagram, she considers herself more of a designer than an influencer. She also doesn't think the brand embodies the typical "French girl" style in that it isn't particularly basic or minimalist, but some French influence inevitably seeps in. "The attitude for sure, the masculinity, the nonchalance, the mythical Parisian déguaine is something that never left me and by consequence the brand's identity," she says. She describes the brand as "a balanced mix between the French cool and the Milanese femininity, but in an eclectic, international way."