Artists and intellectuals have come to the Côte d’Azur since the start of the 20th century. The Riviera’s hotels granted them peace and quiet; the dream-like coasts were a fruitful source of creativity. Discover the fashion brands who continue to draw inspiration from the South of France.

Bob Carlton: Cinema’s Golden Age on the Côte d’Azur

“When a client enters one of my boutiques, I’d like them to feel like they’ve just arrived on the Côte D’Azur,” says Arthur Lahitte, a young fashion designer from the Riviera, who last year started the high-end leather goods brand Bob Carlton. The name is a mix between an alias which is smoother on the tongue of his transatlantic guests, and the name of film character Bill Carson, from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The young designer draws inspiration from the Riviera’s long-lasting love affair with the film industry: from Cannes’ film festival to the timeless elegance of celebrities who like to hang around these turquoise shores long after their film shootings wrap up.   “You can almost feel the sea’s scent and hear the old car rumbling on the ledge… There’s a casual chic side to OSS 117. It has the elegance of James Bond, Cary Grant or Grace Kelly, ” he says.

“My inspiration is Roger Moore, in The Persuaders – that scene in the Bay of Villefranche – or Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, shot in Monaco and Cannes… That’s how the myth of the Riviera was created,” he explains.

Lahitte has lived on the Côte d’Azur since 2007, and it is on its beaches that he found his first clients. “At the beginning, I sold canvas bags in the Croisette’s private beaches. The collection was very successful, particularly amongst foreign clients. Very quickly, I decided to move my business towards more exclusive products. That’s how I ended up going into leather goods,” he says. Currently, Lahitte’s aim is to make a name for himself in the luxury travel bag sector, and then to expand his brand in the fashion industry.

Fragonard: the scent of fields and flowers

Whenever the warm colours and the sweetness of life meet the scents and the light of Southern France, a Fragonard perfume is born. Right before the first world war, Eugène Fuchs starts a perfume brand in the town of Grasse. He markets his products to the tourists who have recently started coming to the French Riviera. In 1926, the brand Fragonard is born. It takes its name from Grasse-native, painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard. A century later, the scents of southern France continue to live in a now world-famous perfume collection. 

Jacquemus : darling Provence

Born in 1990 in Salon-de-Provence, fashion designer Simon Porte Jacquemus started his eponymous fashion brand in 2009. His minimal designs have now become a celebrity favourite. Jacquemus’ collections are inspired by nostalgia for the past, and by the South. “My name is Simon, I like the colour blue and the colour white, stripes, the sun, fruits, circles, life, poetry, Marseille and the 80s,” you can read on the brand’s website. Marseille, the South of France and Provence are his darlings, so much so that in honour of his brand’s ten-year anniversary, Jacquemus held his Spring-Summer 2019 fashion show in the lavender fields of Valensole.

Fragonard, Bob Carlton and Jacquemus all built on Southern France’s eternal charm to grow their brand and become points of reference in their respective sectors. And the Riviera, eternally grateful, thanks its loyal ambassadors.