I have always had a soft spot for everything French. The romantic language, the boys (Gaspard Ulliel in those Chanel Bleu adverts= heaven), the pastries, the cities and last but not least : the style.
I've always wondered to myself- how do they do it? Their expert nonchalance that is near impossible to emulate. They sport a kind of togetherness that so many people try to adopt, but just look contrived. For the French it is effortless. Be it a sexy little minidress or simple masculine trousers, they pull it off with sublime elegance.
There is an iconic image of the pioneer of French style- Gabrielle Coco Chanel- in the 1930s. She wears straight-leg trousers with a striped breton tee, sleeves rolled up to reveal simple gold bangles. Her lithe frame is belted at the waist and she has her hands in her pockets. This image embodies Parisienne style for me- a look that will never date.
This signature look is a firm favourite of mine- no embellishment, no tasteless decoration, just simplicity. But no matter how I may try, I never seem to look like Audrey Tautou or any other French beauty galavanting around the Rue Cambon!
The eponymous gallic charm and style has captivated me for so long- I have never seen a French person look terrible, while I see British people get it so wrong every single day. Ironic as it is- my English teacher at school is French, and every day I admire her way of dressing. She has a unique and eclectic style but always manages to look chic and coordinated.
The French kind of own fashion. They rule it. Think of the big houses- Chanel, Dior, Vuitton: all French. And lets not forget all the little names that have people going crazy like The Kooples, Zadig and Voltaire, Isabel Marant and Carven. They all adopt a variation of that same French look that will never go out of style. I am longing to know the secret...
In 2005, Mireille Guiliano published the famous "French Women Don't Get Fat" book, and this month sees the release of fashion icon Ines De La Fressange's first book on Parisian style. Guiliano unveiled the age old tricks behind the lithe French physique - perhaps fashion legend Fressange's book will hold the invaluable secrets to achieving French style?
As Fressange puts it herself (read more here):
"French women don't want to be trendy... They know what suits them. It's more about style than trends. Women should dress up for themselves, not for showing off but to feel better - and if you feel better, you look better."
She talks some sense doesn't she? Head to Selfridges, or order 'Parisian Chic' online, either way- this is an unmissable read. Fressange has spent years as a darling of the French fashion industry. The face of Chanel in the 1980s, she kickstarted the supermodel phenomenon and has done it all in serious style.
I felt the release of her book was the perfect stimulus to do a piece on the gallic look that I admire so much- with a few different approaches to working the look ourselves!