The Obsession With The French Girl

09-vogue-by-numbers.jpgFashion and culture is obsessed with the effortlessly beautiful, and almost mysteriously magical, “french girl.” If you type “french girl” into google, you could find a plethora of articles about how to eat, dress, act, or even date like a french girl. In fact, when Vogue published their first article in 1892, they even included an article about the latest french trends, which included “frou-frou skirts” and “smoking in public.”  

But how did this obsession start? And why has it persisted?

Perhaps, it could largely be due to the fact that France or Paris has long been considered the fashion capital of the world. From Chanel, to Dior, to Saint Laurent, to Hermes, to Louis Vuitton, the list of high-end French brands is never-ending.

bio_bb_big_aw15.jpgA long list of 20th century french icons that fit this mold of the “perfect french woman” also helped to further this idyllic view of the french woman that was seemingly perfect without trying hardly at all. These women, like Coco Chanel, Anna Karina, or Brigitte Bardot gave a very specific image of the french woman, though very different from one another. It also provided a face to women from other countries to look up to when they imagine the image of the perfect french woman.

Now, celebrities like Camille Rowe, Caroline Maigret, Clémence Poésy, or Léa Seydoux give us a more relevant but similar french-girl to look up to. It seems like there are “french girls” in every generation that portray the iconic french fashion and lifestyle that so many people covet.  

Screen Shot 2018-12-25 at 7.27.23 PM.png“French girl basics” are also wildly popular, like a pair of ballerina flats, a white blouse and the perfect pair of jeans. These clothing items were worn by Brigitte Bardot, but can also be found on current fashion icons like Diane Kari, owner of Fripouille Vintage Store, who says:

To me, [true French style] is a pair of jeans and a white shirt, worn with a good jacket and a pair of sneakers, or a pair of black boots. Really simple. Nothing artificial.”  

These are basics that arguably could enhance any wardrobe because they’re so versatile and simple. Perhaps the idea of the “french girl” is a stand-in for whatever you want it to be. It is a woman to aspire to be and that one can look up to, but that one must know is not necessarily attainable (maybe not even for those girls who are actually from France).

Madeline Silton



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