Fabulously French: Four Ideas from Iconic French Fashion Designers to Use in Interior Design

Today instead of looking at current trends we’re going to take a look back at some fashion icons.  Paris has always been one of the top fashion cities in the world, with numerous iconic designers emerging from France.  But what can French fashion designers teach us about interior design?  Let’s find out.

Coco Chanel – Casual Can be Classy


Chanel’s design aesthetic redefined the fashionable post-WWI woman.  A look of youthful ease and unencumbered, sprightly confidence became the Chanel trademark.  Greatly inspired by the sporting life of British elites and nautical ventures on yachts Chanel’s clothing designs were informed by those activities and the movements they required.  The horizontal striped shirt, bell-bottom pants, crew-neck sweaters, and espadrille shoes were all directly inspired by the clothing of sailors.  Chanel’s fashion brought a freedom of movement to women’s fashion that had previously been lacking.  Her designs had a more casual feel to them, yet were still incredibly stylish and chic.  Chanel was also one of the first to embrace the notion of the “little black dress.”

This idea that casual can still be stylish and fashionable carries over to interior design as well.  You don’t need to sacrifice style if you want a casual, comfortable living space.  When styled correctly casual can still look great.  And, just as you can’t go wrong with a little black dress, you also can’t go wrong with a cozy black sofa.


Christian Dior – Play with Silhouette


Christian Dior is best known for the “New Look” which revolutionized women’s fashion after WWII.  He was a master at creating shapes and silhouettes, using structural details like boning and padding to create voluptuous, curvaceous forms on his models.  The New Look required tiny, high waists with flared, voluminous skirts.

The lesson to take from Dior’s aesthetic is to not be afraid to play with silhouette.  A lot of furniture is boxy, but throwing in some curves can help soften the look of the whole room.  Curves can help the eye travel around the room more smoothly since they’re not cut off by sharp corners and definitive lines.


Hubert de Givenchy – Mix Textures


Known for designing for Audrey Hepburn, Givenchy also played with silhouette, creating the iconic “Balloon Coat” and “Baby Doll Dress” in 1958.  However, Givenchy also played a lot with texture.  Combining fabrics like silk and feathers, leather and fur, or just embellishing wools with embroidery and bead-work he added rich visual interest to his pieces.

We’ve talked about playing with texture in a room before, but hopefully seeing it in action on fabulous pieces of clothing will spark inspiration.  Mixing textures in a room will add a ton of visual interest and depth.  Soft, rough, fuzzy, smooth can all combine to be a feast for the eyes and the fingers.


Paul Poiret – Simple Can be Stunning


Paul Poiret was a master couturier during the early part of the 20th century.  Among the first to free women from corsets his major contribution to fashion was his development of the dressmaking technique known as draping.  Instead of pattern-making and tight tailoring Poiret would cut fabric with straight lines in a rectangular shape and drape it to get the desired silhouette and look.  His clothes were structurally simple yet still gorgeous.

The takeaway from Poiret is that simple can still be stunning.  A simple design can be just as eye-catching and beautiful as a more complicated one.  Also, a perfectly draped throw can sometimes be the perfect accessory to your favorite couch or lounge chair.


So many ideas can be taken from fashion and translated into interior design.  Advice from the masters will never go out of style and all of these tips can be put into use whatever your preferred design aesthetic is.  The main takeaway is don’t be afraid to try something new. All of these designers became well known because they pushed the boundaries of their time and experimented.  You may not stumble upon the next big interior design fad, but you’ll at least come up with the perfect design for you and your lifestyle.