“ The tangled hair of Vanessa Paradis, the faded jeans of Charlotte Gainsbourg, the masculine shirts and ballet flats of Ines de la Fressange…. French women are more sober in their clothes choices than the flamboyant Italians or eccentric English. The French Fashion Icons, recognised for their style the world over, have a thoroughly bourgeois appeal: Audrey Tautou, Françoise Hardy, Isabel Marant- the least you can say of them is that none of them is notable for extravagance. A long way, indeed, from Kate Perry, Courtney Love or Dontatella Versace. The French woman is not overdone in any way. She will go out without fixing her hair, with unpainted nails and no make-up. Despite her apparent dishevelment, she remains elegant.”
For everyone inspired by the simplistic French Touch, the book “Paris Street Style – A Guide to effortless chic” is a must-read. Keep this book handy on your coffee table, it’s full of inspiring pictures of elegant Parisian women of all ages. It explores the myth surrounding the style of the French woman in a globalised word of increasing uniformity. Punctuated by interviews with French designers, writers, fashion magazine editors and psychologists, it gives a fascinating insight and guidance as to how everyone can become effortlessly chic.
In the book, I love the practical tips on how to manage & tidy up your wardrobe and how to recognize good quality and beautiful finishing. Did you know that up to 5% of synthetic fibres in the composition of a fabric can strengthen the fabric and make them last longer? I always used to shun even the smallest percentage of synthetic materials, but happy to learn that small percentages can increase the longevity of clothes. An interesting subject is the chapter on the fashion limits through age, how to dress what suits you rather than disguise yourself.
Many basic fashion must-haves mentioned in the book are already part of our wardrobe: The trench coat, the V-Neck Cashmere jumper, the flat ballet pumps. Eternal classics also reinforced in Ines de la Fressange’s book “Parisian Chic”. While I felt that Ines’ book was very much written from her own perspective and full of items that suit her tall, boyish frame, I feel that “Paris Street Style” covers more diverse type of women.
On the trench coat: “Jane Birkin and Charlotte Gainsbourg gave the trench coat contemporary chic by wearing it casually with sneakers and jeans. The trench coat is now much more than just something you wear in the rain: It has become a definable, recognisable outline. It has to be cut in high-quality, substantial gabardine. Along with the leather jacket, it is one of the few items of clothing that looks better well-worn.” – from the Book Paris Street Style – A guide to effortless chic.
On accessories, tights: “Tights are mostly bought just because you need to be warm or because you don’t want to go around with your legs uncovered. But you are wrong to take them for granted. Chosen badly, they cheapen everything (flesh coloured ones are a case in point). Handled correctly, they can wake up an otherwise drab ensemble and revitalise your appearance. Tights, in fact, are a relatively cheap accessory that can revolutionize the way you look. Colours aren’t only the sole preserve of little girls, opt for violet, luminous fuchsia, lilac, anthracite grey…”
See below a short quotes from the interviews appearing in the book:
Christophe Lemaire, art director of Hérmes:
“I’m disgusted when I see films like Sex and the city, that relegate women to the status of idiots, thrilled by the latest handbag or the prospect of bargain sales. We should understand women’s vulnerability, not laugh at it.”
Silvia Motta, fashion editor Grazia, Italy:
“Models used to be Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly: today, they’re porn star chamber maids. The references have become entirely vulgar. This vulgarization is also the fault of women’s magazines, which have led women to believe it’s ok to walk around town dressed in the same clothes they wear to the beach. We’ve lost the notion of respect for each other, along with a notion of a dress code.
Alexandre Vauthier, Couturier:
“When you shop, be sure you know the difference between good work and bad. The same rules apply to the building of houses as to the building of clothes: Do you want rubbish that won’t last, or do you want beautiful foundations that will stand the test of time?
Odile Gilbert, Studio Hairdresser:
“When you get older, chose the colour that is a half tone lighter than your real colour. It will lighten up your face. For haircuts, avoid strongly outlined styles. You need to preserve a certain softness and fluidity in your hair. As one gets older, one should try to avoid struggling to look young. Instead, one should move serenely in the direction of elegance, sobriety, and chic.”
Alix Petit, Creator of the brand Heimstone
“We’re totally submerged by the mass market. These days, consumers are being treated like idiots. Clothes are expensive, but most of them are being made in China and are of terrible quality. What makes them so expensive is the marketing that seethes around them. Quality and savoir faire aren’t part of the equation. Clothes are no longer made to last. They’re supposed to be consumed and to be replaced immediately. My aim is to make clothes that last years.”