Sunday, September 20, 2015

Paris Report (not Fashion Week)

We just got back from Paris. Always ahead of ourselves, it was the week before Fashion Week. Honestly I don't think I could have taken the excitement. Paris is loco about Fashion, but in the way that drives the rest of the world crazy— natural yet calculated, easy yet disciplined, artful yet frivolous all at the same time. Fashion is so in the Parisian DNA it doesn't even rate a capital "F". Someone did ask if I was there for Fashion Week, and I can't tell you how that made my day!

This American always connects Paris and fashion to Jean Seberg in "Breathless." I intended to recreate the scene where she is hawking papers on the street and even brought my Herald Tribune t-shirt (a recreated homage), but the weather was chilly for the most part with showers if not exactly rain. I chickened out.

Jean P. and Jean S. on the Champs

Once again, praise goes to The Sartorialist and Advanced Style for capturing street style. I find it nearly impossible to photograph that way, although it was a great excuse to sit in a sidewalk cafe and try. Just this gal shot from behind may give you an idea about Parisian style.

We did start up a conversation with a beautifully dressed couple. Alan and the gentleman eyed each other as they were wearing the same glasses. I was sure the couple were French; they were from San Francisco.

I would guess the woman below was the proprietor of the antiques shop, checking to see if the rain had stopped. I so fell in love with her, it was easy to run up and ask if I might take her picture. All I could think of saying was "Magnifique, magnifique". She must have thought I was nuts.

Note the hair bow

This incident has no pictures. A young woman was parading through the Musee D'Orsay— too much makeup, hair stiffly styled, strange outfit that included a very full, flowered skirt, ankle socks and sequined ruby heels. She was too conscious of her appearance; I refused to reinforce the cry for attention with a photo. Alan did stage whisper he guessed we weren't in Kansas anymore. A woman near us (not American) asked if that was how they dressed in Kansas. She understood when we explained the "Wizard of Oz" reference. We both agreed that wasn't Fashion.

Don't ask me how we got there, but we also agreed there were some things we just wouldn't wear anymore. It was a poignant moment (and I paraphrase) as she said "Many of my friends say 'Isn't it wonderful that we are so free now and don't have to worry about that stuff', but I think it's terrible. Getting old is not fun." I should send her to the woman on Rue St. Germain...

All the cliches about Paris style are true: 

* Most wear LOTS of black. Head to toe. Unrelieved. I can see where that would be easy-way-out dressing as the chicest of Parisians added pops of color or were studies in neutral.

* They are thin. Even thinner when you see how much bread, pastry and confections they have to avoid. Temptation is everywhere.

* Skinny black pants and ballet flats are worn by women of every age. And look great on all.

* European women in general know how to work a scarf. Parisians lead the bunch. Even my 91-year-old cousin, whom we visited while there, asked for her pretty scarf before I took a picture as it would "hide my neck."

Cousine Jill Benjamin

* There are more women who don't dye their grey hair than do, and the streets are full of very stylish grey manes that had me thinking...

Finance Minister Christine Lagarde
leads the grey charge

I spotted a new trend as well— many young women wore their hair in loose topknots a la Toulouse Lautrec. Delicious.


  1. If I have a style icon, it is Jean Seberg. Too bad she didn't grow old.

    1. Yes, hers was not a happy story. But she was wonderful in "Breathless". I really wanted to go to Paris and sell newspapers (and meet Jean Paul Belmondo).

  2. Your cousine is lovely, as is her scarf. Thanks for the notes from Paris.