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Iconic: The Laughing Cow

These triangular cream cheeses combining comté, emmental, gouda, edam, and cheddar are actually a French invention, and known as La Vache Qui Rit. Sold in little round boxes, these snacks are part of fond childhood memories in France. The lighter version is also a best-seller in the United States, where it is sold in supermarkets as the Laughing Cow. The saga...

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Iconic: The Vuarnet Sunglasses

Originally destined for high-altitude resorts and adopted by city-dwelling fashionistas and celebrities, the French brand will open on July 14 its first U.S. boutique in the SoHo neighborhood of New York. Take a look back on this French success story. In the late 1950s, French optician Roger Pouilloux teamed up with the skiing superstar of the day, Jean Vuarnet, to...

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Iconic: The Espadrilles

Once a working-class shoe, then the footwear of choice of Spain’s Franquistas, this rope-and-canvas sandal has attracted eccentrics such as Salvador Dalí, fashion designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, and in recent years, luxury and ready-to-wear brands. Basic and affordable, the espadrille has long been labeled the poor man’s shoe. The Basque country and Catalonia each claim to have invented...

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Iconic: The Escape Scarf

Before becoming a collector’s item, silk scarves adorned with map prints were actually distributed in World War II to allied pilots, who would hide them under their collars and use them to find their way through occupied territory. In 1939, the British secret service created a covert organization — MI9 — responsible for giving Royal Air Force pilots flying over...

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Iconic : Emmanuelle Khanh’s Extravagant Eyewear

Boasting oversized, cat’s eye and butterfly frames, and prints such as tortoiseshell, the avant-garde eyewear created by French designer Emmanuelle Khanh, who died at 79 on February 17, 2017, made a splash in fashion during the 1970’s. The products were handmade in the Jura region in France, and contributed to female emancipation. Despite disappearing in the early 1990’s, the brand...

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Iconic: The Hermès Scarf

This square, silk scarf has been an icon of French elegance since 1937. Long associated with chic style, it can be worn in a multitude of different ways. Tied in a knot as a neck scarf, as a head band, on a bag strap, or even as a belt. Every year sees the arrival of traditional themes ranging from the...

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Iconic: Shalimar, the Perfume of the Roaring Twenties

Created by Jacques Guerlain in 1921, this intoxicating perfume and its Baccarat crystal vial sated a French appetite for the Far East during the Roaring Twenties. Shalimar is now Guerlain’s most iconic perfume and its best-selling fragrance after La Petite Robe Noire, with 108 bottles sold every hour across the world. Once upon a time in 17th-century India, the Mughal Emperor...

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Iconic: The Jacquard Sweater

Retro style, chunky knitwear and colorful, geometric patterns; for Generation Y (or millennials, as people born between 1980 and 1995 are known), the jacquard weave evokes more grandma’s knitting than haute couture. But now the 1980s are in fashion once again, this “made in France” motif is back in the spotlight, and used to create skirts, dresses, ponchos and cardigans....[Subscriber]

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Iconic: Repetto Ballet Pumps, From the Opera to the Sidewalk

Designed in 1947, immortalized by Brigitte Bardot in the cinema, Repetto ballet pumps have escaped from the Opera House to become a fashion accessory. Lusted after by city-dwellers, 500 000 pairs a year are sold at an average price of 150 euros. The French brand opened its first shop in the United States last winter. In 1947, the mother of principal dancer...[Subscriber]

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Iconic: Grey Goose, the Premium French Vodka

Grey Goose takes its name from the eponymous birds that migrate from Europe to Manhattan every year, and is the world’s third-highest-selling vodka, just behind Smirnoff and Absolut. Although little-known in France, this high-end vodka enjoys widespread popularity in the USA. It was originally created by an American, and has been distilled in Cognac, in France, since 1997. While vodka...[Subscriber]

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Iconic: The Bic Ballpoint Pen

With its ballpoint and its timeless design, the Bic pen was a technological revolution. Functional and cheap, this disposable pen produced since 1950 in Clichy is also a symbol of consumer society. At the rate of three Bic pens sold every second, it’s the most popular ballpoint pen in the world. Ever since the invention of the ball­point pen in...[Subscriber]

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Iconic: The Goyard Picnic Basket

To enjoy a casually elegant al fresco lunch without relinquishing one’s social standing, there’s nothing like the traditional wicker picnic basket by Maison Goyard, the exclusive Parisian trunk maker. Its wooden frame, fitted with goyardine canvas and encased in wicker; the natural-leather-lined lid; the two trays and the leather closure straps have all been custom-made since 1853 in the Maison’s...[Subscriber]

Iconic: The Straw Boater

The boater is a stiff oval-shaped straw hat with a flat top and brim, trimmed with ribbon around the crown, and as its name suggests it was the choice accessory for boating enthusiasts in the 19th century. Coco Chanel would prove that it wasn’t just reserved for men, Fred Astaire adopted one as his accomplice on stage, and Leonardo DiCaprio made it...[Subscriber]

Iconic: The Peugeot Bicycle

The French brand Peugeot is also a figure in the cycling world. Founded in 1882, the subsidiary Cycles Peugeot offered three models: the Grand-Bi was rather unwieldy penny-farthing, with the crankset fixed directly to the axle of a wide-diameter front wheel; the tricycle allowed for a reassuringly smooth ride thanks to the stability of its two back wheels, and the...

Iconic: The Cartier Tank Watch

With its allusion to the French army, the Tank was created in 1917 from a pencil sketch by Louis Cartier. Its square shape surrounded by two straight sidebars, its sapphire cabochon winder and its leather bracelet have graced the wrists of celebrities such as Marquis Boni de Castellane to Alain Delon via Truman Capote for nine decades. Fascinated by the...[Subscriber]

Iconic: The Cherbourg Umbrella

Renowned for its solidity, capable of rebuffing the worst gusts of wind and hail, resistant even to a downpour of cobblestones, the "Véritable Cherbourg" nonetheless oozes elegance. With its varnished wooden handle, its golden fittings and its coat of arms embroidered directly onto the fabric, it is the "Rolls Royce of umbrellas". Contrary to what you might think about Jacques...[Subscriber]