With the presentation of the fall-winter 2012 collections nipping at our heels we wanted to share the last bit of fashion week history from the grandaddy of all Fashion Weeks…Paris! Paris seems to have been a fashion capital forever; Fashion Week seems to have been around forever too. Not so fast!
As we know, Fashion Week is an American concept, the brainchild of Eleanor Lambert, who came-up with it in 1943 in response to the Nazi occupation of France; and, Paris is… well… Paris.
Looking at French fashion history without looking at French national history is simply impossible, as the two are so closely intertwined. Many see the earliest building blocks of French fashion production to coincide with the national luxury production of silks under the Bourbon dynasty.
So here are a few points that will help you understand why Paris is Paris when it comes to Fashion…
Under Henri IV, the first Bourbon king, the French economy began to aggressively restructure itself for the modern era and boost its luxury production in the process (think of it as coming out of the Renaissance period and transitioning into the Baroque period). His son, Louis XIII, took the established model further with the assistance of his trusted and powerful prime minister, Cardinal de Richelieu (himself a great connoisseur of fashionable things).
Louis XIV, the Sun King, is the one who helped put France and Paris (really the palace of Versailles) on the international fashion map. He cleverly used fashion as a means to control his court, to keep the potentially dangerous aristocracy in-check. Fashion trends turned into a survival sport for those who wished to be in the king’s good grace. The latest fashion styles would have you noticed!
But, in a nod to the current fashion concept, Marie-Antoinette’s dressmaker/fashion supplier, Rose Bertin, is the pre-fashion designer par excellence. This dressmaker and tastemaker would go to Versailles from Paris to discuss new looks with the queen, and then produce them shortly thereafter.
This dialogue opened the doors for fashion designers today.
Next: the Birth of couture and the salon presentations.
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