The Magic of Savoir-Faire in Fashion, Design, Decor & More

savoir faire defined

At Love Happens, we love the intoxicating allure of Savoir-faire, the French term often used when describing luxury, artisan, expertly crafted fashion, home decor, art, and so many more goods (and goodies!). But what exactly does it mean? And how can you spot it? Join us as we delve into the magic of savoir-faire, or in its simplest English translation, “know how to do.” It’s that “je-ne-sais-quoi” of craftsmanship that marks the work of a truly skilled artisan. And a realm that brings endless joy and beauty to the design world!

Whether discussing haute couture fashion, first-class cuisine, or masterful interior design, savoir-faire applies wherever the most skillful and knowledgeable craftspeople practice at the top of their field. It denotes proprietary, traditional, highly specialized methods executed using the finest materials and producing results indicative of true mastery of craft. Techniques and trade secrets are often passed through generations of creators and designers, artisan-to-artisan, resulting in a legacy of skill, knowledge, and superior expertise. The concept of “savoir-faire” exists in dialogue with tradition and innovation, artistry, and hands-on experience.

Elements of savoir-faire manifest differently between various trades and handicrafts, but the core principles endure. Technique, expertise, and skill remain paramount, and yet each practice is unique in what defines a masterful work. However, the importance of precision, planning, and flawless execution is consistent across all expressions.

Here, we explore some of the unique markers of savoir-faire in fashion, jewelry, perfume, decor, cuisine, and more!

L’Histoire de Savoir Faire

The earliest usage of the term dates back to the late eighteenth century, showing up in writing by Robert Bage. The French term has a couple of linguistic cousins, such as savoir-vivre and savior-être (“how to live” and “how to be,” respectively).

While there is some contextual overlap in the way these terms are used, savoir-faire is likely the most familiar to native English speakers. As an English idiom, it usually refers to behavior; to describe a person who knows how to act tactfully and gracefully in social situations.

But the term refers to know-how in almost any situation, from dinner parties to designer runways. In France, the term is more commonly used to denote skill in craft as opposed to social etiquette. It is the highly prized intangible that an artisan employs when creating a work of superior quality.

Savoir Faire In Fashion

Within the fashion design industry, savoir-faire is most evident in the creative process of haute couture and bespoke garments. Designers who prioritize craftsmanship pay meticulous attention to every stitch. A relentless obsession with detail is the key to savoir-faire. This ensures that the final piece not only meets aesthetic standards but also stands as a testament to the artisan’s expertise.

Brand-specific styles are often integral to the execution of their specific flavor of “savoir-faire.” Consider the renowned fashion house Chanel, where iconic pieces like the Chanel jacket showcase the brand’s commitment to savoir-faire, blending timeless style with innovative elegance.

Community of Craftmanship

There is considerable overlap when it comes to celebrating savoir-faire across trades. Chanel’s Le19 M is an example of this, at the intersection of design, fashion, craftsmanship, and architecture.

carla fernandez le19m savoir faire hand art photo by sarah makharine savoir-faire in fashion savoir-faire home decor
Carla Fernández “L’avenir fait main” exhibition at la Galerie du 19M | Photo by Sarah Makharine, Courtesy Le19M

The building is an homage and testament to the skill and creativity of French artisans. Filled with eleven ateliers, the space serves as a workspace for shoemakers, embroiderers, and other craftspeople. Additionally, the venue houses La Galerie du 19M, a space dedicated to exhibitions celebrating savoir-faire. The façade of the building itself invokes the signature weave of Chanel, exemplifying the versatile nature of artistic elements across materials and expressions.

Le19M is part of Chanel’s endeavor to preserve the craftsmanship of savoir-faire in fashion and beyond. Within the walls, hundreds of artisans are given space to hone their skills and trades. The building, and those within it, serve as a reaffirmation of the luxury brand’s commitment to the art of design and creation.

FRANCE - JULY 04:  In embroiderer Francois Lesage's workshop in Paris, France on July 04th, 2006.  (Photo by Raphael GAILLARDE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) savoir-faire in fashion
Savoir faire in the making at Francois Lesage’s workshop in Paris | Photo by Raphael GAILLARDE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

The various Maisons D’Art operating within Le19M include legends in the Paris fashion world, such as Lesage, Goossens, Lemarié, Paloma, and more. Each resident brings a unique flavor to the artistic culture of the compound; experts in distinctive, inspired, specialized elements of their trade. Lesage, for example, is known for their expert and adept embroidery work. Goossens, on the other hand, boasts technical expertise in goldsmithing and jewelry.

By bringing these masters together under one roof, Le19M serves as both a reminder and affirmation of Chanel’s commitment to supporting and preserving the fine-tuned practices of Parisian savoir-faire in design.

A Behind the Scenes Haute Couture Experience with Le Connoisseur

Shows & Celebrations of Savoir Faire

One of the best places to witness real-life savoir-faire in fashion is in France each January and June during Paris Haute Couture Week. Shows like this and a few other specific special annual events captivate the fashion world with shows and celebrations of extravagance and superior craft.

In addition to Le19M, Chanel celebrates and supports the savoir-faire of their artisans at their annual Métiers d’Art show. Showcasing the work of hundreds of embroiderers, feather workers, flower makers, goldsmiths, pleaters, shoemakers, and more, this once-a-year show is a chance to bring together and celebrate the exceptional savoir-faire of makers and artists.

Another show that lauds the artistry of high fashion is Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda. Since the first event in Sicily in 2012, the annual show has continued to draw global awe and admiration from luxury, fashion, and art lovers.

DG Alta Moda 2021 Dolce&Gabbana Alta Moda show 2021, Venice | Photo by Jacopo Raule/Getty Images
Dolce&Gabbana Alta Moda show 2021, Venice | Photo by Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

Alta Moda is a weekend-long immersion in global ultra-luxury and elegance, embodying Italian savor-faire in the blending of stunning creativity, innovation, and flawless execution. The exclusive event is attended by celebrities and style icons from around the world. Alta Moda aims to showcase high fashion as a modern art form.

Rewarding Brilliance & Preserving Craft

Celebrating and showcasing savoir-faire is an important part of preservation and innovation. While recognizing established visionaries in fashion is crucial, supporting up-and-coming talent is imperative for the continuation and evolution of the industry. LVMH is a powerhouse in the world of luxury. The conglomerate’s holdings include brands Louis Vuitton, Moët, Hennessy, Tiffany & Co., Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs and many more.

As a cultural authority, LVMH is dedicated to rewarding, preserving, and expanding savoir-faire in fashion and design. Reaffirming their commitment to passing on the values of superior craftsmanship, in 2024 they introduced a new award called the Savoir-Faire Prize.

With the aim of promoting the transference of skill and mastery, the prize rewards sustainability, innovation, and mastery of craft. Celebrating designers who display such exceptional skill in their fields ensures the cultivation and advancement of artisanal practices. The continued evolution of savior-faire depends on preservation, communication, and celebration.

Highlighting innovative craftsmanship and skill, the LVMH Prize ensures that the art of savoir-faire continues to develop between generations of creators, makers, and doers.


These days, it’s common practice for design houses to produce their own eau de parfum. But this hasn’t always been the case. In the last century, the growth of a global haute couture industry has gone hand-in-hand with that of luxury perfumes. And as such, the savior-faire of creating fine scents has become honored as an art form.

In the early 20th century, French designer Paul Poiret was the first to include perfume in his fashion house’s offerings. Other Maisons followed suit, including Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and other tastemakers.

Discover The Secret Behind Dior’s Must Have Fragrances

Scent’s Haute History

The perfume industry was originally borne out of a desire to mask the smell of animal hides and leathers from which garments were made. In Grasse, where the tannery trade boomed, this was done using soaps and oils scented with local flowers and spices. As the folk practice grew into a fashion necessity, scent makers became skilled perfumiers.

Modern perfumery is not so far removed from this history. Superior raw materials and layered notes are key to crafting premium scents. Flowers and spices remain the most popular elements of fine perfumes. The savior-faire of the practice lies in the balancing of layers and longevity of the scents. And as most perfumes are attached to a fashion house, they also seek to embody the spirit of the brand.

So is also the case as we venture from fashion to home decor, with furniture brands like KOKET offering a perfectly tailored, Empowering home scent to compliment the intoxicating savoir-faire of their interior works of art.

Art & Decor

High-end luxury furniture brands pride themselves on the expertise of their artisans and the use of premium materials, emphasizing signature elements and techniques to define their style. Additionally, the crafting of art for home decor purposes requires a special savoir-faire, which includes a magical understanding of design, texture, color, and style.

Beyond the creation of furniture and artistic decor elements themselves, the blending of these pieces to create a cohesive design concept is a delicate and diverse art in itself. Every level of interior design has a distinct savior-faire, and they build upon, draw from, and enrich each other.

When it comes to luxury furniture and home decor, craftspeople obsess over perfection, attentive to every step, from design sketches to upholstery to hardware details.

A prime example of dedication to this practice is KOKET. The luxury home decor brand embodies a distinctive savoir-faire, a seductive, enchanting, whimsical aesthetic crafted by detail-oriented artisans in Portugal.

With an emphasis on sensual, inviting silhouettes and enchanting details, KOKET’s signature style and quality are easily recognizable thanks to the exceptional savoir-faire of the home decor designers and craftspeople.

Savoir-Faire In Interior Design

dining room design interior design savoir faire feather chairs luxury home decor savoir-faire home decor
Interior Design by KOKET

When it comes to savoir-faire in luxury home decor, the best top designers are wholly knowledgeable about each piece they create or source. They maintain a vision of how it will fit with other elements as a whole. Well-executed interior design is as dependent on the quality of individual pieces as it is on the overall harmony of color, texture, structure, and space. Function, form, and execution are all considered throughout the process. When a home decor designer’s true savoir-faire is tuned in, the final result is nothing short of spectacular.

Jewelry Savoir Faire

In the realm of designer jewelry, specific elements of savoir-faire apply to different styles, purposes, and aesthetics. For example, engagement rings and bold statement necklaces will have distinctly different markers of quality and skill, and yet both draw from the same core understanding of materials and style. Jewelry designers who possess savoir-faire in their craft excel in various aspects of the creative process.

Elsa Peretti jewelry circa 1970 in New York | Photo by PL Gould/Getty Images
Elsa Peretti jewelry circa 1970 in New York | Photo by PL Gould/Getty Images

The sourcing of stones, drawing of preliminary sketches, and technical ability are as important as the crafting process itself. Cartier is one of the Maisons that prides itself on their signature savior-faire when it comes to world-renowned jewelry, meticulously controlling every aspect of their jewelry designs from start to finish.

Cartier Panther bracelet photo by Dan Kitwood via Getty Images
Cartier’s Iconic Panther Bracelet radiates savoir-faire! | Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

While savoir-faire can describe an individual’s ability, it also refers to the products of masterful collaboration. Where one person’s expertise ends, another’s begins. Gem cutters, buyers, setters, polishers, and designers must all work in tandem to create the final product. This helps to showcase not only individual exceptionalism but also the results of expert partnership. Savoir-faire truly shines where talents and skills work in concert.

The Artistic Touch of a Chef

It should come as no surprise that the famous French term also applies to the culinary arts. The phrase has a long history in the world of haute cuisine in France. Going beyond the French culinary heritage, the term now liberally applies to skill in kitchens across the world.

As with other disciplines, the concept encompasses everything from ingredient sourcing to traditional preparations and heritage recipes. In a kitchen, savor-faire denotes a chef’s skill in the preparation, execution, and presentation of their food. It encompasses everything from familiarity and creativity with ingredients to knife skills and plating and more.

Chef Igles Corelli by FreelanceHournalist via Shutterstock
Michelin-Starred Italian chef Igles Corelli | Photo by FreelanceJournalist/Shutterstock

For a chef, their restaurant is a place to showcase their specific brand of savior-faire. Cuisine is an art that blends history, culture, technical skill, tradition, and innovation, all centered on a socially integral practice. Fine dining offers more than a meal; it promises an experience. The nature and quality of that experience is the result of superior savoir-faire.

Plate by Chef Nick Pitthayanont | Photo Courtesy of Nick Pitthayanont
Plate by Chef Nick Pitthayanont | Photo Courtesy of Nick Pitthayanont

An Exquisite Know-How

Savoir-faire is one of those elusive terms that can be hard to pin down, but it shows up in the most beautiful parts of life. Though it is a French term, the concept applies to almost every creative and productive art, from design and decor to fashion and food. The truth is that artisans, masters, and crafters who possess and practice “savior-faire” are all around us, combining age-old techniques and groundbreaking ingenuity.

From a masterfully crafted meal to an elegant designer gown, telltale signs of savoir-faire are identifiable by anyone willing to take the time to look, notice, and appreciate.

Words by Bridget Kitson
Feature Image by KOKET

More to Love!

My Object of Desire, A Design Source to Love
High Art with maison parisienne
Our Favorite Luxury Fashion Brands with Home Decor Lines