Paris has long been known as the ‘City of fashion’. This is the place where it all began. There are haute couture houses like Chanel, Christian Lacroix, Nina Ricci, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior. To be called an haute couture house, a business must belong to the Syndical Chamber for Haute Couture in Paris, which is regulated by the French Department of Industry.
Haute couture was established in Paris at the end of the 19th century. The houses generate more than 1 billion dollars in annual sales and employ close to 5,000 people. After World War II, during fashion’s golden age more than 14,000 women wore couture. Today only 2,000 women in the world buy clothes in haute couture houses. Haute couture means designing for rich women, who can afford to pay the very high prices.
Paris has also attracted fashion companies from all over the world to open stores in the city. The list includes Kenzo and Verasace. Women who are very fashion conscious often come to the world ‘Mecca of fashion’ to buy the most extraordinary clothes. Truly trend-setting fashions may be seen in the shops on Rue Etienne Marcel and Place des Victoires. Parisian shops are an integral part of the city’s cultural identity, and make it the ultimate destination for the discerning consumer. Shopping in this capital city is the best way to discover the glamorous side of Paris as well as France’s renowned tradition of quality and attention to detail, and inimitable sense of luxury.
Those fortunate enough to be visiting Paris at the beginning of January or the beginning of July during the sales may take advantage of substantial discounts, ranging between 30% and 50% on clothing, shoes, accessories, and furnishing fabrics.
The most important catwalk shows take place in Paris. Every season a number of fashion shows are organised by fashion designers to show their creative work. For designers from all over the world, their show in Paris is the most expensive few minutes of their year. The shows are no longer solely about the designs on the catwalk but the free publicity that helps make a fashion label desirable to the average person and that sells the products stocked in the shops. The shows are about image and getting across the designer’s vision. A lot of the pieces are works of art and are supposed to be viewed, not bought. All the big names hold their shows on the catwalks of Paris, including Givenchy, Christian Dior, Louis Vuttion and Paul Smith. Catwalk shows for up-and-coming designers offer a rare chance to be seen on the big stage.
Designers work not only on clothes and shoes, but also accessories, perfumes, cosmetics. New designers strive to come up with original, innovative ideas which they hope will provide a foundation for the next generation to build upon.
In Paris there are few museums devoted to fashion, which are well worth a visit; for example the treasures at the Museum of Fashion and Textiles, which covers the history of French fashions from Clovis to the Renaissance,. Or how about a private tour of the museum in Paris, which displays priceless jewelry, on the Place Vendome, conveniently situated opposite the Ritz hotel.