Sunday, April 17, 2011

Musings: French Style Terms

Clearly, I'm really into French. And fashion. That being said, I've recently noticed some gratuitous use of French out there in the online shopping world. We start our French lesson over at Forever 21.

Matelassé (adj): quilted (often as pertaining to handbags or bedding)

When I showed this to Edwin, my fellow french minor BFF, he said, "WTF is matelassé?" When a French minor asks that question, it means that that's an excessive use of French. These are faux leather quilted handbags, and should be described as such.

Pick up a few new words after the jump!

Lamé (n, adj): Fabric with interwoven metallic threads. From lame (n) blade. (see the French-only definition here)
American Apparel

This next one combines our first two terms, for twice the gratuitous french, a lamé matelassé top. They also misplace the accent. So here, the lamé discribes the metallic threads used, the matelassé (e) the texture of the weave. But unless you're Forever 21 in France (which doesn't exist, by the way), most likely that name would not communicate that information.

Forever 21+ "Lamé Matelasseé [sic] Top"
Mousse (n): moss (botany), foam, head (of a beer)

Tinley Road Blouse
This color of this top is described as Mousse brown. Well it's green. "Why is that?," a customer inquired. Well because mousse means moss. And so it's moss brown. Also known as moss green to normal people not putting on French airs.

Mélange (n)- blend, mixture

In the case of this suit, mélange is just a term used to describe the texture and color of the fabric. The gray fibers are mixed (to mix=mélanger) with the white ones. I don't find this one as gratuitous as the other, if only because I think higher end brands can use more French. It's still snobby, but at this price point, it can afford to be so.

Banana Republic Wool Blazer

Cerise (n, adj.): cherry, a vivid pinkish red

 We use French words for a lot for colors. Bordeaux is okay, Beaujolais Nouveau (an actual Old Navy color) is out of control (much like the French themselves during the Beaujolais festival). In terms of cerise, both Gap and Old Navy use this color name:
Gap Kids Warmest Jacket

Ombré (adj):  Fading from one color to another (generally lightest to darkest). From ombre, meaning shadow.

Velvet by Graham & Spencer Ombré Sequin Top
Ombré Manicure (thanks to Whitney for sending me this link)

Paillette (n): A shiny plastic disc used for clothing decoration, sequin spangle, sparkle

So paillette is a specific sewing term. And in the sequin biz, I imagine it's important to have terms that describe the specific different kinds of embellishments. That being said, it's a little affected how it's being thrown around on sites this season. This is America. We call them sequins here. 

Have you guys noticed any gratuitous French out there? Let me know in the comments!

VS Paillette embellished string bikini 
Milly Paillette Wool Blend Jacket

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