Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

Degree Name



Foreign Languages

First Advisor

Dr. Earle D. Clowney


This thesis charts the development of Parisian fashion supremacy, dating from the 16th century reign of François I to the eventual establishment of haute couture in the 19th century. Via a century-by-century analysis, key individuals who contributed to the development of fashion dominance and haute couture are highlighted.

This analysis is composed of three chapters and a conclusion. The first chapter concentrates on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, identifying François I and Louis XIV as central personalities who influenced French fashion supremacy during their respective eras. This chapter also mentions key aspects of the French Renaissance which makes this a logical starting point for this analysis.

The second chapter identifies Madame de Pompadour and Marie Antoinette as the most influential personal ties influencing fashion trends on a worldwide scale. It marks the emergence of the female as the dominant arbiter of fashion; taking the position formally held by the French kings. Characteristics during the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI which allowed this transition of authority to take place are discussed. Finally, it is during this chapter that Paris emerges as the fashion capital of the world.

The third chapter reviews the nineteenth century and its ultimate contribution to French fashion dominance: haute couture. Key elements during the reign of Napoleon III, along with the creative genius and dressmaking ability of Charles Frederick Worth are credited with its creation. Additionally, the development of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Française and its influences on the fashion world are analyzed.

The conclusion summarizes the evolution of French fashion and discusses France's current position.

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