Discover Paris and France The French Art de vivre

Studying at HEC Paris, you’re perfectly positioned to experience the world-renowned French lifestyle and culture. France, and in particular Paris and its surroundings, is an inexhaustible source of cultural and culinary discoveries as well as the prestigious birthplace of vibrant luxury and fashion. Furthermore, you can access fantastic career opportunities in fashion and luxury management.

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The French Art de vivre is the result of a long tradition of different savoir-faire involving, among other things, luxury, fashion, arts, and gastronomy.

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Luxury

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 Fashion

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No other city better epitomizes luxury than Paris, the classiest shopping spot in the world. France boasts many prestigious luxury brands in perfumes and cosmetics – Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Guerlain - but also watchmaking, and jewelry such as Boucheron or Chaumet.


Paris’ fashion and haute couture are among the finest in the world and nothing compares to a shopping trip on the Champs-Elysées. From the historic brands such as Saint Laurent, Dior or Chanel to the more recent that have become world-renowned such as Maje or Zadig & Voltaire, Paris is truly the temple of fashion.


Cultural Heritage

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 Wine & Gastronomy

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Haussmanian buildings, Opéra Garnier, Musée du Louvre, Châteaux de la Loire, but also beautiful and diverse landscapes and architecture… Your discovery of French culture and heritage starts at HEC Paris, just a few minutes from the Château de Versailles and Parisian museums.

Students at HEC Paris have an easy access to French cuisine in its various forms and to the finest wines. Bistrots and cafés in Versailles and Paris exist alongside concept bars and Michelin-starred restaurants, allowing you to enjoy French culture in the most delightful way. But it’s also the whole country that awaits gastronomes, be it the beautiful region of Bordeaux, Burgundy, or the Mediterranean coast.

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A short history of Fashion, by Gachoucha Kretz, Affiliate Professor, HEC Paris

France enjoys a special place in the international fashion market because fashion holds a special place in the history of France. It was in fact within the Court of the King that the phenomenon was born, particularly during the reign of Louis XIV. Power games and intrigues were developed in the splendor of the outfits - the originality of the dresses, richness of materials, delicacy of jewels - as in the splendor of the house - mirrors, gilding and other ornamentations. The power of the king, and thus that of the kingdom, was measured by his ability to maintain this splendor for himself as well as for his court.

Until the French Revolution, which contributed to the decompartmentalization of the structure of society. Especially with the industrial revolutions and the development of a great bourgeoisie linked to that which had already appeared in the United States - and embodied by the Rockefeller, Rothschild and Vanderbilt families - that fashion ceased to be reserved for the aristocracy. At the end of the 19th century, fashion and luxury were the means for this new economic elite to show its power and distinguish itself. It is in this unique context that haute couture was born, which became the absolute reference in fashion. Coco Chanel, who experienced a growing success in the 1920s, was at the origin of a small revolution in women's fashion, which became less extravagant and restrictive, more understated and comfortable.

If the Second World War imposed a break in the rise of haute couture to the French, the latter made its return after the war, under sumptuous finery. The rise of ready-to-wear paved the way for the most striking change in the history of contemporary French fashion. The manufacture of standardized garments first appeared in France under the impetus of brands such as Rodier and Weil in the 1960s. The fashion sector was gradually structured around three segments: haute couture (Dior), now more understated, luxury ready-to-wear, embodied by Yves Saint-Laurent, and ready-to-wear.

It is on this basis that the fashion industry became a true French "soft power". Thanks to structured professional organizations and under the impulse of visionary protagonists such as Pierre Berger, Yves Saint-Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld, this "made in France" sector imposed its model and its high-place: fashion would henceforth be punctuated by two annual Fashion Weeks in Paris. More than the hour for the fashion shows to present the new Spring and Autumn-Winter collections, the Fashion Weeks, now organized in many cities (Milan, New York...), are real trade fairs where professionals from all over the world meet and do business and whose financial benefits amount to millions of euros.

Since it gave birth to the very idea of fashion, France has maintained its status as a strong market place, not only thanks to an efficient governance of the industry, at the origin of the fashion weeks business model, but also to its positioning in the different segments that make up the industry. First of all, France is the only "haute couture producing country" but also the only country to host garment workshops. Moreover, the French protagonists invented luxury ready-to-wear fashion and remain the international leaders. Without forgetting that it is in France that the largest groups active in fashion and luxury goods (LVMH, Kering) were formed. Finally, France invented the so-called Premium fashion (Maje, Sézanne...), which relies on both mass production techniques and design and codes derived directly from luxury.

France's leadership in the fashion sector rests on a solid and long-standing foundation. This anchoring in French-style history and excellence naturally brings HEC Paris closer to this prestigious sector. With its leading academic offer on luxury themes (academies, certificates, Master in Management, MSc Marketing...) and the privileged relations it has forged with LVMH and Kering over many years, HEC is a wonderful window to discover the arcane of fashion and luxury, but also the best bridges to high-level careers in these sectors, both in France and abroad.