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17 Best French Fashion Designers Who Have Shaped The Fashion World

Want to delve into the world of French fashion? Here are the best French fashion designers you should look out for!

France is a fashion hub, and the French fashion scene is incomparable. You will find everything from avant-garde fashion and prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) pieces to high-end designs and international haute couture fashion houses all around France, particularly in Paris.

Fashion designing

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In fact, one of Paris’ nicknames is the capital of Fashion. Considering that Paris is one of the four major fashion capitals of the world, world-renowned fashion designers and young, emerging designers showcase their collections for almost every fashion season in the city.

To highlight the immense talent in the country, I’ve put together this guide of the best French fashion designers, including iconic names and upcoming designers who have created quite a stir on the fashion scene in recent years.

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Best French Fashion Designers

All of the personalities on this list of best French fashion designers have their own uniqueness.

Some draw inspiration from their past, some from their interests, and others from the environment around them.

But the common factor they all possess is their passion for creating designs and bringing their creative ideas to life.

So, without any further ado, here is a list of the most famous French designers.

1. Coco Chanel (1883-1971)

Coco Chanel is one of the most famous French people.

Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

We start the French fashion designers list with the iconic Gabrielle Chanel, fondly known as “Coco” or Mademoiselle Chanel.

I’m sure we all recognize her signature interlocked double C monogram on luxury French bags or the Chanel N°5 Eau de Parfum, which has become a household name among French perfumes.

But what you might not be aware of is that Chanel started off as a milliner, opening a hat boutique in 1910.

She later became a couturière and established her first couture house in Biarritz in 1915, from where she designed her first haute couture collection.

Chanel knew and dressed a lot of elite personalities and royals and created timeless designs which were both comfortable and classy.

She made wearing suits a trend among women, and is also credited to have popularized the little black dress.

You can check out some of Chanel’s ready-to-wear outfits here.

2. Christian Dior (1905-1957)

Christian Dior is one of the best French fashion designers.

投稿者によるスキャン, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The next famous French designer known for haute couture is Christian Dior. Christian liked the arts — be it painting, music, and, ultimately, designing.

His parents didn’t allow him to enroll in a fine arts school, but he partnered with his friend to become an art gallery director.

Eventually, he switched roles and decided to put his talent to good use by designing clothes for Robert Piguet, whom he later praised for having taught him most of what he knew about designing elegant pieces.

He was a talented fashion designer and couturier, which led him to establish his eponymous brand and luxury fashion house in 1946.

Though he designed many lines, it is his “New Look” line that made him famous receiving both positive and negative criticism from those who thought he was drastically changing what women were accustomed to at the time.

His minimal and classy designs are popular to date, ruling the ramps at almost every Fashion Week.

Over time, the fashion house ventured into perfumes with the most notable being Miss Dior perfume for women, skincare, and makeup which has established it as one of the best French makeup brands.

3. Pierre Cardin (1922-2020)

Pierre Cardin is one of the famous designers from France.

Terentiyeva, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A list of the best fashion designers of Paris has to include the revolutionary Pietro Costante Cardino, better known as Pierre Cardin.

He started as a tailor and was hired by none other than Christian Dior in 1946. Eventually, Pierre founded his namesake brand in 1950 and became a costumier, designing costumes for theatre actors.

In 1974, he became the first couturier to feature on the Time magazine cover, further cementing his spot as one of the French famous designers.

His unisex fashion and geometric designs are what put him on the fashion world map pioneering Space Age designs, which were a rage in the 1960s and 1970s.

In addition to haute couture, Pierre also makes prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) clothes.

With a career that spanned over 7 decades until his demise in 2020, Pierre Cardin left a lasting impression in the fashion world.

Related Post: Best Lingerie Brands in France

4. Jean Paul Gaultier (1952-)

Jean Paul Gaultier is one of the famous French designers.

Netaction, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Another person among famous French fashion designers is Jean Paul Gaultier. He founded his eponymous label in 1982 but designed clothes long before that, even though he never got any formal education in design.

His talent drew the interest of Pierre Cardin, who became Gaultier’s mentor and made him his assistant.

Gaultier, whose USP was bricolage styling, is known for his quirky, unorthodox, and often bordering rebellious designs. He even introduced the world to corsets and conical, pointy bras.

Some of these include dresses out of plastic trash bags, gowns from plastic sheeting, and the usage of tin cans. His theme of gender-neutral, inclusive fashion always stood out too.

His muse, Madonna, adorned his clothing for years, even on her tours. Apart from her, many celebrities like Marion Cotillard, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna have worn his designs.

After 50 years of designing iconic collections, Gaultier took his final bow in January 2020 during Paris Fashion Week.

Besides clothes, he has also designed Jean Paul Gaultier perfumes which take on both a man’s and woman’s body frame.

5. Christian Louboutin (1963-)

Christian Louboutin is one of the famous French fashion designers.

Claudio Conti, Director, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Christian Louboutin is one of the most famous designers from France, albeit not for clothing, but his shoe collections.

He designed shoes for various fashion houses like Chanel and YSL before opening his shoe salon in Paris in 1991. His first customer was no less than royalty, Princess Caroline of Monaco.

Louboutin has shoes of all shapes, sizes, and colors, but he is known for his signature stilettoes with red-lacquered soles, which all luxury shoe aficionados wish to include in their collections.

He wanted women to feel sexy and beautiful with his iconic 4-6-inch heels. In fact, the red sole is actually protected as a trademark in several countries.

Today, his brand is recognized as one of the most famous French shoe brands!

6. Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008)

Yves Saint Laurent is another iconic brand whose founder, Yves Henri Donat Mathieu Saint-Laurent, is one of the best fashion designers in France.

He started his first job as Christian Dior’s design assistant and, eventually, became creative director after Dior’s sudden demise in 1957.

But he wanted to start his own label, so 5 years later, he established the eponymous French luxury fashion house in 1962.

In 1966, YSL introduced the Le Smoking tuxedo suit for women in the fashion world, keeping the curvy female silhouette in mind.

This was a pioneering androgynous style for women, which developed into, what we now call, the pantsuit.

In 2007, just one year before his passing, he was awarded the rank of Grand Officier in the Légion d’Honneur.

7. Givenchy (1927-2018)

Hubert Givenchy is one of the fashion designers from France.

Castrum avisani, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy, commonly known as just Givenchy was a famous French designer and aristocrat who came from a long line of artists.

His maternal great grandfather was a designer who designed some pieces for the Elysée Palace (the official residence of the Republic of French) while one of his great grandfathers designed sets for the Paris Opera/Palais Garnier.

His fashion career started with an apprenticeship at Jacques Fath’s couture house while studying fine arts.

Hubert also worked in Lucien Lelong’s atelier alongside Dior and Balmain. Then, in 1952, he opened his namesake couture house.

Though his initial designs were made of low-quality fabrics since he hadn’t fully established himself financially, fashion critics appreciated his innovativeness.

Fast forward, Givenchy met British actress, Audrey Hepburn who became his muse. He designed personal clothing as well as dresses for her movies, the most iconic being the little black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Another famous design by Givenchy is the Bettina blouse, named after model Bettina Graziani. He also designed clothing for the former US first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy.

Eventually, he came out with a ready-to-wear clothing line and later perfume and handbag lines.

Among his many honors, he is recognized for introducing the chemise dress which made turns in the 50s. He was also awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 1983.

8. Pierre Balmain (1914-1982)

Pierre Balmain is one of the fashion designers of Paris.

Nationaal Archief, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pierre Balmain is one of the fashion designers from France who are recognized worldwide.

Just like Hubert Givenchy, Balmain also came from a family that wasn’t distant from the fashion industry.

His father owned a wholesale drapery business, while his mother and sisters managed a fashion boutique.

He started his fashion career by designing for Robert Piguet and Edward Molyneux, but 5 years later, he joined Lucien Lelong, where he met Dior and Givenchy.

After World War II ended, in 1945, he established the House of Balmain. The first collection included long bell-shaped skirts with narrow waists, which were featured in Vogue, and became a fan favorite.

His designs were mostly associated with royalty with the likes of Duchess Wallis Simpson of Windsor and then Queen mother of Thailand Sirikithave adorning his work.

To honor his impact, he was awarded the Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in 1962.

Related Post: Famous French Watch Brands You Should Own

9. Louis Vuitton (1821-1892)

Louis Vuitton is one of the French famous designers.

Unknown author Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

When speaking about famous French designers, especially in the luxury goods sector, a name that stands out is that of Louis Vuitton.

He worked under trunk maker and packer Monsieur Marechal before becoming a leather trunk maker too.

Like the previous 2 French designers, Louis Vuitton came from a family of artisans. His mother was a hat maker, so the craft came naturally to him.

In fact, he was so skilled and good at his job that he was asked to be the personal trunk maker for Empress Eugénie, Emperor Napoleon III’s wife.

In 1854, he founded his eponymous luxury leather goods brand, which has now become a high-end conglomerate together with other French luxury brands to form LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) designing everything from famous French skincare, handbags, shoes, perfumes, French jewelry, and more, under its various brands.

10. Paloma Picasso (1949-)

Paloma Picasso is one of the best French fashion designers.

Eduardo Correa, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Daughter of legendary Spanish artist Pablo Picasso and renowned French painter Françoise Gilot, Anne Paloma Picasso y Gilot famously Paloma Picasso is one of the most famous jewelry designers from France.

She takes to art like a paintbrush to a canvas or, in her case, thread to a needle.

Recognized for her signature red lipstick, Mon Rouge or Paloma Red, Paloma studied jewelry design before starting her career by designing costume jewelry for close friend, Yves Saint-Laurent.

She then created pieces for the famous jewelry brand Tiffany & Co., and her long-lasting stint with them is what caught everyone’s eye.

Paloma makes exquisite rhinestone jewelry, in addition to the other pieces which use brilliantly cut gems in blocks of gold.

Her work is so immaculate that 2 museums in the USA bought some of her most elegant pieces to display in their permanent collections.

She dabbled in perfumery following her maternal grandfather’s footsteps and created an eponymous fragrance for L’Oréal.

11. Thierry Mugler (1945-2022)

Thierry Mugler is one of the famous designers from France.

StagiaireMGIMO, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Next up on the best French fashion designers list is Thierry Mugler, who founded his eponymous label in 1974.

He expanded into making fragrances in the 1990s with the launches of Angel and A*men for women and men, respectively.

Thierry was probably the first few perfumers to make his perfumes refillable with the current favorite being this Alien perfume.

1992 was when he launched his first haute couture show at the Ritz in Paris. He was also an advocate of diversity, which was visible on the ramp, with drag queens and transgenders walking for him.

He draws inspiration from nature, often incorporating it into his designs. Celebrities like Beyoncé, Dua Lipa, Emilia Clarke, Kim Kardashian, and K-pop band BLACKPINK have worn Mugler outfits.

12. Bouchra Jarrar (1970-)

Bouchra Jarrar is one of the famous French designers.

Lanvincp, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cannes-born Bouchra Jarrar is one of the most anticipated new-age fashion designers from France.

She is an haute couture designer who has worked with some of the biggest names in the fashion industry, like Jean-Paul Gaultier and Balenciaga.

Her list of achievements also includes being an Artistic Director at Lanvin, for which she put the brand she had founded in 2009 on hold.

She draws inspiration from Paris in the 50s and 60s, evident on her website, where everything is in noir et blanc (black & white).

Jarrar is one of the few designers to be awarded the Officier (Officer) of the L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

13. Nicolas Ghesquière (1971-)

Nicolas Ghesquière is one of the famous French fashion designers.

Myles Kalus Anak Jihem, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Young Nicolas Ghesquière might or might not have guessed that he would become one of the top Paris fashion designers, but fashion almost ran in his blood since his mother was a fashionista.

He enjoyed sports, something he drew inspiration from for his designs, and would only sketch designs as a hobby. Eventually, he turned these designs into reality using household items like curtains.

Nicolas began his career by doing several internships before being Jean-Paul Gaultier’s assistant.

He then worked at Balenciaga, after which he took over as the creative director at luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton.

He is credited for reviving the then-failing brand, Balenciaga into one of the most sought-after fashion houses in the world.

After almost 15 years at Balenciaga, he joined Louis Vuitton in 2013 where he continues to create groundbreaking designs and host fashion shows in some of the most prestigious places including the Louvre museum in Paris.

He also got the unique opportunity to design character skins (outfits) for the League of Legends video game in 2019.

14. Jeanne Lanvin (1867-1946)

Jeanne Lanvin is one of the fashion designers from France.

Studio Harcourt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the best Paris fashion designers, Jeanne Lanvin, is the founder of the 3rd oldest French fashion house, Lanvin, which she established in 1889.

Born on New Year’s Day, Jeanne began her career as a milliner. After giving birth, she would design and create clothes for her daughter Marguerite, which grabbed the attention of other mothers. They wanted the same for their children as well.

Jeanne’s outfits became so popular that the mothers requested they also be created clothes for, and that’s how Jeanne’s couturière career took off.

Later on, she introduced Lanvin perfumes as a gift to her daughter, and the Lanvin empire even grew bigger.

She was awarded the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur in 1926 and later got promoted to Officier in 1938.

15. Edmond Luu (1995-)

Monochromatic looks and pieces that tell stories are what French fashion designer Edmond Luu strived to design and release to the world when he founded Pièces Uniques, a men’s wear brand in 2016. In addition to running his company, Edmond is also an art director at Dior Parfums.

He had humble beginnings and started his fashion journey by thrifting and upcycling old jeans.

For him, it was never about selling clothes. He wanted his clothes to associate with people’s emotions and portray the stories he thought of while creating them.

Being a millennial, it doesn’t come as a surprise that he is influenced by Japanese manga, cartoons, video games, and cinema in his work.

16. Marine Serre (1991-)

Next on the list of upcoming fashion designers in Paris is Marine Serre. At a young age, Marine managed to work with top fashion houses like Alexander McQueen, Dior, and Balenciaga.

2017 saw the launch of a capsule collection under her namesake label, which won her an LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers and an ANDAM prize.

Marine believes in environment-friendly practices, which is why she uses upcycled and recycled materials to make her quirky, futuristic designs.

She also uses biodegradable and sustainable fibers and calls her pieces “Future Wear.” Her designs cater to both women and men.

17. Christelle Kocher (1978-)

The final personality on this French fashion designers list is Christelle Kocher who launched her luxury streetwear label, Koché in 2015.

Before this leap, she did impressive work with some top brands, such as Giorgio Armani, Chloé, and Bottega Veneta. Currently, she splits her time between her brand and Chanel-owned Maison Lemarié.

Christelle’s unconventional take on creating streetwear made from high-quality materials and excellent craftsmanship gives rise to a hybrid streetwear-meets-couture segment.

Her collections have a funky, upbeat aspect with a lot of collage work. A few examples of these are jerseys with crystals, colorful tracksuits with embroidery, and metallic padded shorts.

Like Marine Serre, she was also awarded the French Ministry’s ANDAM prize in 2019.

Final Thoughts on the Best Fashion Designers from France

The next time you’re shopping for new designs and want to splurge a little, check out this list for ideas on who to buy from.

I hope you liked reading about the best French fashion designers. Do you have a favorite designer, or did I miss out on including them?

What are your thoughts on their collection(s)? Had you heard of the new-age fashion designers? Come talk to me in the comments below.

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