The French are known for many things—luxurious baked goods, pharmaceutical beauty, love, and, most notably, fashion. You see, if you didn’t know already, Paris is the fashion capital of the world—and for good reason. The City of Light has been leading the charge in sophisticated silhouettes and bespoke ball gowns since way before there was any notion of a Meta Gala, or even Fashion Week.
But like anything in life, there’s a root cause; the person who flew the fashion flag first. That man is widely considered to be Charles Frederick Worth. Though English, Worth moved to Paris in 1845 in search of employment. It was here, in the wake of new prosperity, that Worth started to carve out a career for himself under the tutelage of textile firm Gagelin. Then in 1858, Worth opened his first boutique, which put him on a fast-track course to earning the title of “the father of couture.” Made of lavish fabrics and opulent trimmings, his designs quickly caught the attention of Empress Eugénie. Her approval single handedly put the House of Worth on the map, with everyone from royalty to American patrons flying to Paris to buy his haute couture designs.
This initial dalliance with the world of dressing has blazed a trail for the throngs of designer French fashion brands that would follow. Today’s roster of labels produce everything from bespoke garments to complete ready-to-wear collections, each seeking to make their mark on our wardrobes and the fashion world. Below, we break down the 21 best French designers that are sure to give your outfits that certain je ne sais quoi.