French Fashion: Coco on the Catwalk


The inspiration for our French Fashion: Coco on the Catwalk class by Cynthia Wildridge
Mademoiselle Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel with her famous pearls and matching cuffs, the inspiration for our summer camp, French Fashion: Coco on the Catwalk.

Course Description:

French designer Coco Chanel was one of the most iconic people of the 20th century. She revolutionized the way women look and dress.

Although she was born over 130 years ago, Chanel remains one of the most recognized brands in the fashion industry. How was she different from other designers at the time?

In this course, you will learn about Mademoiselle’s life in France, and of the people, places, and things that influenced her as she, in turn transformed the world surrounding her.

Students will learn some French geography, French vocabulary, and French phrases through stories, games, and activities.

Using fabric, beads, and trims, we’ll design and create a hat, bag, or clothing for a Friday Fashion Show! We’ll cut and sew using needle and thread, perhaps adding a bit of beading or embroidery along the way. Ooh, là là !

Course Objectives:

Students will learn:

  • about the geography France;
  • of the fashions and social class restrictions of late 19th century, and how wartime influenced change;
  • of Coco Chanel’s creativity and entrepreneurship in overcoming adversity;
  • French vocabulary and phrases related to the topic at hand;
  • to use imagination to create and execute a unique look to express one’s self;
  • to develop fine motor skills through hand-sewing using a needle and thread;
  • to work with classmates as a team in putting together a fashion show;
  • that contributing each person’s individual talents toward a common goal can strengthen the final outcome and help develop respect and admiration along the way.

Student Appeal:

While this course will likely appeal primarily to girls, boys may be equally inspired by Karl Lagerfeld‘s 30-plus year reign over the House of Chanel and the prominence of other men in fashion and design. Anyone interested in learning more about France, the French language, and/or the world of fashion and design would benefit from taking this class. We’ll learn of Coco Chanel’s Dallas connections, her introduction to Hollywood, and the importance of the American market in staging her “comeback.”

Prior exposure to the French language would be beneficial, but is not required.


French Fashion: Coco on the Catwalk was designed as a half-day, week-long summer camp and was offered at The Lamplighter School of Dallas and at Southern Methodist University’s Summer Youth Program during the summers of 2017 and 2018 (encompassing approximately 15 and 20 hours of class time, respectively).

Please contact us for information about customizing this program for your group , school, or organization.

Course created and taught by Cynthia S. Wildridge 
© 2017-2020 All rights reserved

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