Fashionable France

31 October 2015

Fashion Real: Where Do Fashion Trends Come From?

by Raegan Thurlow, Part-Time Fashionista…

True to my fashionista (see “raging shopaholic”) form, I’ve been to Paris to experience its unparalleled fashion brilliance. My stiletto boots made their way around Milan as well, but I didn’t find the fashion there as impressive as the I just threw this outfit together and happen to look like a million bucks of Paris.

My grandpa told me that if I took French my last year of high school (after 3 years of Spanish) that he’d send me to Paris. As men tend to do with extravagant promises, this was thrown out the window. But my stepdad picked up the slack and the tab for my ticket, and I soon found myself walking the Champs Elysees with a French-to-English Dictionary, as I’d only seemed to learn how to say “hat shop” and “money” in French by the end of my senior year.

Flash forward 12+ years, I have never needed to say either of those things in French (incidentally, I’ve also never needed to say “hat shop” in English).

I left Paris with a desire to return as a permanent resident, along with a couple of sweaters with belts that were sewn onto them. A sweater with a belt?! This was unheard of back in 1998. I wowed my friends upon my return with my glamorous purchases (okay, let’s be honest, I lived in San Francisco hippieville and don’t have friends who are wowed by fashion-forward clothing, but this is my story and I’ll remember things my way). It was a few years before I started seeing sweaters with belts in the States. Let me repeat for effect: it was a few YEARS before I started seeing sweaters with belts in the States.

Europe is where fashion begins and ends.

There are companies that charge thousands of dollars to predict the up and coming fashions. The big designers don’t give up their l’argent (finally my French is coming in handy!), but the companies without strong designers do. Think Forever 21.

But if all of these clairvoyants are just walking around Europe and taking note of what they see, are they really all that gifted? On the one hand, walking and taking notes can be as tricky as walking and chewing gum. On the other, how much value is there in being a copycat? Sincerest form of flattery? Hmm.

But where do the fashions in Europe come from – the fashions that the U.S. stores copy?

Designers are influenced by movies, books, museum exhibitions, vacations they’ve taken, musicians, art in various forms, etc.

And many designers are friends, so they run their ideas by each other and end up producing lines with similar themes and colors. I like to picture slumber parties where Karl Lagerfeld plays with Sonya Rykiel’s hair as they split a cupcake and discuss how much cleavage is too much cleavage.

As a student at Academy of Art San Francisco, I had the privilege of attending a trend forecasting event. There were speakers, a slide show, music, and oh so many Burberry scarves on the necks of the excited fashion students. We all took notes in our overpriced Academy of Art journals with our Pantone pens while on the edge of our seats with anticipation of the next color that would be sweeping America.

Since then I’ve become a fan of wearing what I want (along with saying what I want and doing what I want), trends be damned. I predict that as more people read me, this is a trend that will sweep the nation.

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By day, Raegan Thurlow works as a mild-mannered tech executive. At night, she dons a 100% cashmere cape and becomes a fashion writer looking to rip into trends for a living.

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