France did fashion journalism first. So, if you’re after the ultimate style inspiration, choose French fashion magazines. Not only do these magazines guide us when we don’t know what to wear, point us toward beautiful objects to desire, and predict fashion trends, but they also reflect and shape society. Plus, they’re so gorgeous that we’re tempted to display them like artwork in our homes!
French fashion magazines have a powerful influence over not only how we dress and style ourselves but also how we see the world, choose to dream, and decide what to covet. Five of the most influential French fashion magazines are Vogue France, L’Officiel, Madame Figaro, Elle, and Numéro.
Let’s page through the leading French fashion magazines that give us endless inspiration to live with style.
At the helm: Eugénie Trochu
Published since: 1920
It’s clear why Vogue is widely known as “The Fashion Bible.” This magazine has been inspiring us with beautiful images and words for more than a century.
From the first issue, French Vogue has partnered with the creative elite to craft a magazine that mesmerizes. This magazine introduces us to the latest collections from iconic and up-and-coming fashion designers and transports us to exquisite worlds through its fashion editorials.
Some of the most memorable spreads were created by photography legends like Hoyningen-Huene, Horst, Bourdin, Klein, Newton, Watson, Lindbergh, Testino, and Inez & Vinoodh. And couturiers Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld have made regular appearances on the magazine’s pages throughout the years.
The History: Vogue was launched in the US in 1892 as a journal for New York socialites. In 1909, Condé Nast Publications turned the publication into a fashion magazine. Eleven years later, the title came to France, called Vogue Paris, and started building a cult following. In November 2021, Vogue Paris became Vogue France, reflecting the magazine’s new direction toward greater inclusivity. Vogue France highlights the talents, voices, and cultural richness of the entire country of France, not just its fashion capital.
Fun Fact: Catherine Deneuve and Kate Moss share the record for appearing on the most French Vogue covers. Singer Aya Nakamura was chosen as the first Vogue France cover model because of her status as a “new generation French icon.”
At the helm: Marie-José Susskind-Jalou
Published since: 1921
L’Officiel punted as “the official voice of French fashion,” has played a significant role in documenting and shaping fashion, design, art, and culture for more than 100 years.
More than a glossy fashion magazine, L’Officiel aims to influence attitudes and values to create a more beautiful world that celebrates diversity.
The Story: In its early days, L’Officiel was a trade publication for high-end international fashion buyers and others working in the fashion industry.
Fun Fact: L’Officiel boosted the careers of many of today’s well-known fashion designers, like Pierre Balmain, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Christian Dior, and Yves St Laurent. The magazine initially featured three different languages in one title: English, French, and Spanish. Its full title is L’Officiel de la Couture et de la Mode de Paris (The Paris Fashion and Couture Official).
At the helm: Nicole Picart
Published since: 1980
Madame Figaro is a weekly magazine supplement to Le Figaro, the oldest national French newspaper. The magazine is also published online.
Madame Figaro’s popularity is largely due to its diverse content (from fashion, beauty, and interior design to current events and career guidance) and high-caliber, often edgy visuals and writing. The pages are filled with breathtaking editorials, stories that matter, and faces of influential people in fashion, design, and popular culture.
The Start: Madame Figaro started as a single-page feature in the Le Figaro magazine supplement to the Le Figaro newspaper.
Fun Fact: Karl Lagerfeld was guest editor-in-chief of a September 2010 issue of Madame Figaro. The designer and friends put together a special edition celebrating the 50s. Madam Figaro was one of the first French magazines to publish in-depth coverage of the experiences and stories of women from other parts of the world.
At the helm: Erin Doherty
Published since: 1945
Elle is believed to be the world’s largest fashion magazine. It’s a title all fashion-lovers know. One of the magazine’s slogans (cleverly) says it best: Si elle lit, elle lit Elle (If she reads, she reads Elle).
While fashion and style are at the heart of the magazine, Elle also fiercely supports women’s empowerment in all its forms.
Elle has always stood out for its detailed articles and thorough (often provocative) discussions of newsworthy topics. The content is also inclusive, challenging stereotyped ideas of beauty.
The Lo-Down: Elle was first a supplement to the newspaper France-Soir. From the beginning, Elle championed women’s rights. The magazine quickly attracted fans, growing its readership to 800,000 by the 60s.
Fun Fact: Elle is one of the first magazine titles to stop featuring animal fur on its pages. A 17-year-old Brigitte Bardot got her first Elle cover in 1952, months before her big-screen debut.
At the helm: Elisabeth Djian
Published since: 1998
After 24 years and more than 200 issues, Numéro is one of the top French magazine titles exploring avant-garde fashion, contemporary art, and culture.
This offbeat magazine is a favorite among readers and the fashion elite alike, thanks to dynamic content and continuous direction from its brilliant founder and editor-in-chief, Elisabeth ‘Babeth’ Djian.
The Beginning: Numéro was imagined and brought to life by Elisabeth, who wanted to produce a fashion magazine for intelligent women interested in art, design, and style, not anti-wrinkle creams and tips for seducing men.
Fun Fact: Numéro released its 100th issue in February 2009. German model and actress Toni Garrn appeared on this special anniversary edition’s cover.
While Vogue France, L’Officiel, Madame Figaro, Elle, and Numéro all have different visions and voices, these five French fashion magazines share a mission to reflect changing societies as well as fashions. So we’re inspired to not only dream but to think.
All these magazines promise to evolve along with our ever-new styles and world to stay our constant source of inspiration.