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The Mysterious French Allure

Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel said, "I don't do fashion. I am fashion."

This might be said of French fashion itself. For centuries, eyes around the world have adored French culture and style, emulating its allure and mystique.

French words and phrases such as avant-garde, très chic, vogue and more are understood and used globally to describe the ultimate in style. During the early 17th century, the phrase "je ne sais quoi" was coined to explain this indescribable French allure.

The concept of haute couture or "high fashion" was invented in Paris and the first couture house opened in 1858. The world's top design houses are still located there today and the appeal of French style only grows with time. French style is considered an art, and many who follow fashion ask the question, "What would a Parisian wear?"

Over the centuries, French jewelry has transitioned through many notable eras. Originating over 400 years ago, the French-inspired parure, or matched jewelry set, was first created. Unified by similar gemstone or bead components throughout the set, parure designs are fashionable again.

"Crystal" Necklace with matching Earrings

In the early 20th century, French designers, including Lalique and Chanel, began mass-producing glass and rhinestone jewelry. Imaginative and fun, these designs were created with a kaleidoscope of glass and rhinestone components.

The quintessential French look is cool with a laissez-faire attitude. French jewelry style is a fusion of past traditions and the confident energy of today. And, it is not exclusive to one look or type of Jewelry.

"Anastasia" Necklace

Reflecting a penchant for quality, French fashion is often simple and classic. A coin, or other pendant necklace conveys a chic, understated elegance. Yet, a single statement piece--just the right piece--can also give you that sought-after allure. A Swarovski-encrusted cuff or necklace, conveys an unexpected touch of glamour.

"Sunset" Necklace and Matching Cuff Bracelet


The French have truly mastered the art of the paradox, or the unexpected. Though her fashion designs were understated, Coco Chanel also said, "If you can wear one strand of pearls, why not wear two, or ..." Her pearl necklace designs included as many as 15 strands. And, on the latest Paris runways, spike jewelry was paired with tailored, sophisticated business attire--a 21st century expression of French style.

French style is not just a look. It is a way of life, where what is inside is as important as what is on the outside. French style is ageless. And, it remains a mystery. Perhaps, the mystery is what keeps us fascinated.

by Anne Marie Hunter, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®






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