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01-05-2009
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Language skill needed for designer to work in French fashion house?
Bonjour tout le monde, i am wondering do any of you know that if it is necessary when applying to work in a french fashion to have a fluent european language in hand, this is to be an assistant designer, etc...?

i am learning "hardcore" french language right now in uni to become more fluent as possible along with a fashion degree (ive done 6 years of french in high school previously) but my tutor advices me that if "communication and basic writting skill" is you goal then you dont need to continue learning hardcore french in uni and i will be able to pick it up real easily once i am in France. Because if working in french fashion environment is my ultimate goal then the vocabulary need for this specific french fashion environment will be very simple, since i am using over and over again (for example when communicating with the atelier) and since french fashion is such an international environment.

i am aware that some designer do have a knowledge in French language:
  1. John Galliano couldnt speak english when he moved to London and but i presume he is fluent in French now in Dior due to his Gibraltarian background
  2. Issey Miyake is also fluent in french since he studied at the Syndicat de la Couture and he apprentice at Givenchy and Guy Laroche
  3. But what about Alexander Mcqueen while he was in Givenchy, does anyone know if Alexander Mcqueen can speak fluent french? and what about Stella McCartney while she was at Christian Lacroix? i am pretty sure she wasn't fluent in french????

anyone who have been to france or worked with a french fashion house or been associated or have friends of, it would be appreciated if i can find out what level of french needed when applying to work in a french fashion house? Is intermediate level like mine sufficient? or a high level is required as you need to communicate with the atelier and the management company of the fashion house? Or is just plain english sufficient?

What level of french language do one need when workin in French fashion?


Last edited by valentin0; 01-05-2009 at 12:05 PM.
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01-05-2009
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Hello! welcome to tFS
I don't have the answer but I have known people who had worked overseas and only studied language for conversation skills before they left the country. It was all they needed to get by. Some of them also took more lessons learning to read the major signs, but if you can have conversation skills, you could just ask a native of the country for help...
I remember reading some time ago about people who had done the same and that the degree in the other language or intense studying was only necessary if you were going to write essays or a novel or doing something quite formal in the other language, since the kinds of words and way of speaking learned in those wouldn't apply to (certain types of) conversation...

I have a colleague now applying for Syndicale de la Couture and she is studying French (basic, I assume, since she only started the lessons recently) and also studying the terms she may need to know for the lessons.. like straight grain, on the bias, notch...which she wouldn't learn in conversation French.

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01-05-2009
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I love the culture of france (and i think alot of people do in fashion), so its appealing to learn french even if you dont need it for a fashion house.

But for an absolute need for it, im not sure.

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01-05-2009
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It would be impolite if you started speaking in English out of the blue to a French person.. so some French is definitely a must :p It is a French-speaking country even if a lot of people can speak English...

Anyway what happens when you are outside the fashion house... doing your groceries or something.

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02-05-2009
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Valentino ... I think it depends where you are applying to and what sort of job.
Alexander McQueen doesn't speak french ... but some other designers speak a little of french (Alber Elbaz for instance).

Sincerely basic french is necessary but that would be it ! The studios are most of the times international so I guess the common language would be french AND english. So don't worry. But a good french is always a +++ on your resume !

And don't forget you won't only work but live, too. So basic is necessary for everyday life. France is not really an international country. Most of the common french citizens have a bad english and I know it's hard for foreigners sometimes here because it's rare french help english talking people. But in Fashion, you won't have any problems. You'll find friends and they'll be very supportive !

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02-05-2009
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berlin rock do you know any other designers who is head/assistant in french fashion house who only speak little or no english other than elbaz?

I know that the lebanese designer now in PAris all can speak french like Elie Saab, Ahbed Mahfouz or Zuhair Murad,

But what about the guy at ungaro? or marc jacobs while he is designing for LV in paris, coz i believe he commute between NY and Paris right? what about ricardo tisci? can tisci speak french?

i think you guys just made up my mind, it will saves me doing 2 years of uni doing french now, i was so worried about this language fluency thing because of my final research of the immigration problem in France, the french has a very nationalistic attitude especially with the PAsqua's zero illegal immigration policy, i was so worried that the french won't be so forgiving, but thankx for the reply guyss, i really appreciate it, can't wait for coco avant chanel :p


Last edited by valentin0; 02-05-2009 at 03:46 AM.
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02-05-2009
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valentino .... i have no idea who speaks or don't speak french ...
but Marc Jacobs don't speak a good french (at all), nor Tisci ...
Lagerfeld is excellent in french ... Ghesquière is french. Slimane is french. KVA speaks french. Dries Van Noten, too. etc.

but wait .... you want to relocate in france ?! ... or is it just to work for some times there and get some experience abroad ?! that's 2 different things.
Yes, we have a 0 illegal immigration policy for some times now .... And a lot of "sans-papiers" (illegal immigrants) are basically going back to their country (the % is raising up every year).

I remember a report Loïc Prigent and Mlle Agnès did some months ago ... Most of the designers said they were illegal or "under the table" as Galliano said ...

Where are you from ? You should contact the Ambassy of France in your country.
visit this : http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/ (there's an english, spanish, german, arab and asian version)
here is the english version to know how to get into France : http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/esp..._rubrique=2045

If you are from Europe, there's no problem, though. We are in Europe !!!!

If you want to work in a Fashion House studio, I really do think a basic french would be enough. Contact them otherwise. But basically if the art director isn't french, it will be ok. and eventhough the art director/designer is french, his/her studio is international. If the House is international (Chanel, LV etc.) this gonna be alright. no need to worry. if the House is smaller (KVA, Martine Sitbon) it should be ok, but contact them.

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02-05-2009
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i am from australia, i am thinking of finishing my fashion degree first and then relocating to france for 10 months perhaps for intership with a fashion house and hopefully permanently work there if it works out (p.s. i know how difficult it is to get a job, etc, i read the comments you made in "working in paris" in tfs, really informative, thankx)

i have some connection with some houses already (my father), but in order to do independent internship with the french "societé," do i need my own insurance from my university, or can the houses provide it, etc, how does internship actually works in paris? do the houses accept anyone or do they go through a process? or is it like first come first serve?

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02-05-2009
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^yes you'll need to be in unversity to do an internship (for the insurance indeed) ...

and having connections is good +++++++ !!! especially for Fashion in France !

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25-04-2013
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Oh French is just too hard to learn.

One of my dreams is work for Robert Clergerie or Pierre Hardy.

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