Top 10 creations by leading French fashion brands

From illustrious designs, unconventional looks to technical know-how, here are some of the most influential inventions by leading French brands and designers.

Pop-Art Fashion by Jean Charles de Castelbajac

The designer rebooted the industry by introducing pop-art to fashion. His signature style includes primary colours, geometrical designs and cartoons characters or stuffed toys. His anti-fashion approach draws references from his past, mainly from his childhood. His most memorable creation is the teddy bear coat worn by Madonna.

“Les Insectes” by Thierry Mugler

Mugler resurfaced in the spotlight after Kim Kardashian wore his outfits for several events. His whimsical creations with a penchant for theatrics, transforms ordinary women into outwardly creatures. He explored latex, a material rarely used in ready-to-wear luxury fashion. “Les Insectes” is the most radical collection, where he incorporated insects’ body-parts into woman’s silhouette.

Chanel No. 5 by Chanel

Coco Chanel transformed the industry by creating perfumes for the modern woman. In 1920s, she complained about the gaudy fragrances worn by women. She commissioned a Russian perfumer, who developed a scent, imbued with jasmine, rose, sandalwood and vanilla. She bottled the perfume in simple containers rather than in over-elaborate flasks. A century later, Chanel No. 5 (External link) is still amongst the best perfumes.

Mystery Set by Van Clef & Arpels

The Maison (External link) pioneered the “Mystery Set”, a technique that the brand patented in 1933. Each stone is delicately set along the railings, without the prongs being visible, rendering their designs seamless. Nature has been breathing life to their creations and giving their designs a distinctive characteristic. Insects, flowers and animals are regularly featured in their designs.

“Art of Patina” by Berluti

The luxury shoemaker refined the “Art of Patina”, a technique wherein a soft sheen is applied to the surface of the leather. Olga Berluti perfected the technique in 1980s, which no other competitor has been able to rival. She set herself apart by inventing a startling palette of colours, a major departure from the black and brown shoes. Thanks to her, a lot more can be known about a man by the shoe he wears.

Scarves by Hermès

The luxury brand branched out into making scarves in 1930s, after making bridles and harnesses for horses. The very first products were made from Chinese silk, which were twice as strong than any other known scarves. Elaborate and unique woodblock technique was used, making them instant hit with the rich and the famous. Tie it around neck or sling it on your handbag or wear it as a headband, the scarf can be worn in multiple ways.

Tweed Suit by Chanel

Coco Chanel ushered a new wave of fashion in 1920s, which continues to be celebrated. She often borrowed clothes from her lovers’ wardrobe and felt that nothing highlights femininity more than menswear. She particularly fell in love with tweed, a garment which was diverse, comfortable and yet luxurious. Many leading figures in Hollywood swear by Chanel’s tweed suit.

Minaudiere by Van Clef & Arpels

The French luxury company envisioned an accessory in the 1930s, which continues to be a red-carpet staple. At a ball, Charles Arpels was intrigued to see millionaire socialite Florence Jay Gould hide her lipstick in a pewter box. He immediately set his mind in creating a make-up pouch. Minaudiere is considered one of the iconic products and the most successful inventions of the House.

“Skirts for men” by Jean Paul Gaultier

‘Enfant Terrible’ of fashion revolutionised the industry by deconstructing clichés surrounding masculinity. Gender fluid clothes are a fad today, but three decades ago, the designer caused a lot of hysteria. Male models sporting skirt-suits were centrepiece of his collections in 1980s. He also introduced a line of cosmetic products for men, including a Kohl pencil.

Birkin Bag by Hermès

The Maison (External link) conceived the “Birkin Bag”, an embodiment of ultimate luxury. On a flight, Jane Birkin was seated next to the CEO of Hermes. She wanted to fit her wicker basket in the overhead compartment. Unfortunately, the lid came off, spilling the contents everywhere. The CEO with the help of the actress sketched the design, which was spacious yet sophisticated. And the rest is history!