Provence "à la mode"
A few hints for a “mode in Provence” style
Sunny and dynamic, modern whilst conserving its authenticity, Provence is gifted with special appeal. Land of importation, inspiration and creation, the Bouches-du-Rhône region has witnessed the birth of some vital items of clothing and accessories fit for any respectable wardrobe. Forget all your assumptions about some of your wardrobe. There is, perhaps, a little bit of Provence hiding in there somewhere…
The Bouches-du-Rhône department has always known how to avoid the Parisian diktat by assuming its choices of brightly coloured, comfortable materials and cuts, whilst remaining refined and sophisticated. Influences intermingle; diversity is a real regional strength, another source of inspiration for creating a strong identity that is immediately recognisable.
It all started in Marseille in the 17th century with the famous Indian fabrics. You remember those pretty coloured fabrics from your childhood, when your parents dressed you up in Provençal costume for the school carnival? These same patterns that are so typically Provencal can be found, and will arouse lots of nostalgia, when you pass by a Souleiado or Les Olivades boutique. At the time, these cotton fabrics came from the Comptoir des Indes. This Mediterranean city was the first town in Europe to receive them. When importation of the fabric was banned, the town began to produce it itself and, by doing so, transformed itself into a city of fashion. In the 1950s the Belsunce district was affectionately known as the "Sentier du Sud". Paris had better watch out!
Christian Lacroix, the famous fashion designer and from the Provencal town of Arles, makes reference to this bubbling creativity: "There isn’t just one French fashion, but several French fashions, one of which was born in the Mediterranean sun.”
Fashion in Provence
If there really isn’t any doubt about the origin of Provencal materials, you will surely be surprised to learn that the vest top and jeans also have a connection with Marseille.
Let’s start with the vest, a sleeveless shirt that we so love, worn as a t-shirt as soon as the weather is hot, or all year round under a shirt. Between the two wars, this item of clothing became associated with the manual worker. In Marseille, it invaded the quays, becoming the uniform of a generation of Dockers. We must confess that this item of clothing is perfectly cut for muscular bodies. In 1947, the Manufacturer Saint-Théodore became the market leader by producing up to 15,000 vests per week. Up until 1965, one of the most productive hosiery businesses in the region even supplied the army. In later years, they produced brightly coloured, unisex versions for the Sugar brand.
Along with the vest, another indispensable item of clothing that every man and woman has in their wardrobe is a pair of jeans. If you feel as though you have landed amongst the cowboys of America when you slip into your jeans, you should also know that there is also a little bit of Provence hidden inside them. In fact, in the 70s, Marseille was the undisputed capital of French denim. Denim wholesalers settled there to facilitate the growth of the industry. Rica Lewis, with five factories in the region, is the biggest and most famous brand. Mc Keen, Jézequel, Blue Spencer and H.Landers also joined the Marseille jean empire. The Temps des Cerises and Kaporal seem to have taken over with success.
From the top to the bottom, we all wear a little bit of … Provence.
«Fashion seems as sun-kissed» Françoise Montenay President of the Supervisory Board of Chanel S.A.S, Ex- President of the Comité Colbert,
Fashion designer Marseille
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