On my first visit to Paris, I found the women fascinating. Cliche? Probably. But it’s true – French women generally have an understated, effortless style about them that is just so right. And trying to emulate it is difficult, so I instead embraced the tourist look; walking shoes, sun hat and camera slung about my neck. Classy, me.
The same cool, clean elegance in a French woman’s every day wardrobe can be found in their top wedding dress designers. Often boho, always modern, usually understated. Structure seems to be thrown out of the window, leaving me wondering if their dresses would look any good on anybody larger than slim. After all, that’s what structure and corsets are for – pulling all your bits and pieces into the right places. I’ve been sifting through French designers and picking out my top 10 favourites. So in no particular order, here they are:
1. Delphine Manivet
Delphine Manivet encapsulates everything about great French wedding gown designers. Endlessly tasteful, beautifully made, with an element of rock chick that screams coolness (in a good way).
2. Laure de Sagazan
It must be tough competing with other French designers when one is as edgy as the next, but Laure de Sagazan does battle with panache. Even her photos are 70s cool – so cool, I found them vaguely annoying – sometimes you can’t see details on the dresses you’d really like to see, but hey. Beautiful, flowy gowns with not a bit of structure in sight.
3. Fabienne Alagama
Ah, love at first sight. Fabienne Alagama mixes clean, immaculate design with a touch of French edge, and *gasp*, some structure…! Wonders will never cease. Her gowns remind me just a little of Jesus Peiro.
4. Rime Arodaky
If you’re looking for a killer combination of sexy yet cool, Rime Arodaky may well be the designer you’re after. Lots of laser cut lace, separates, and loose flowing garments that ooze rock chick charm.
5. Elise Hameau
Back to french boho at its best, Elise Hameau includes lots of separates, lace, drop waists and general relaxed prettiness.
6. Manon Gontero
Whilst Manon Gontero have a website that’s a downright annoyance to navigate, I won’t hold that against them, since their dresses definitely make up for it. Admittedly I’m a bit dubious about the dress in the top left hand corner – from a distance, it looks like it’s about to make a run for it.
7. Stephanie Wolff
Ah, Stephanie Wolff. Soft, pretty, feminine gowns that manage to be understated yet glorious in one fell swoop.
8. Celestina Agostino
Dabbling in a little more structure than many of the French Designers on my list, Celistina Agostino‘s gowns lean ever so slightly in the more traditionally feminine direction, but do so with such flair and… frenchness (is that a thing…?) that they’re a delight.
9. Suzanne Ermann
I met Suzanne Ermann once. I know, obviously I move in top fashion circles (*modest cough*). Anyway, I was struck by her utterly unique wedding dresses – she’s incorporated a timeless design element of wired satin into many of her gowns, and the instant you lay eyes on her gowns, you know they’re hers.
A list of French designers wouldn’t be complete without France’s most successful design house, Cymbeline. You can buy Cymbeline all over the world, and its success is likely down to doing classic yet beautifully designed gowns that incorporate both modern styles with more traditional.
So that’s my top ten favourites. Who are yours?