PARISIAN CHIC, A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange with Sophie Gachet, Flammarion, S.A.,Paris, English language edition, 2011
This is a review of my favourite book on style and elegance. I first read it six years ago and still read it for tips, ideas or inspiration. The creator of this book, Ines de la Fressange, is a respected fashion icon since the eighties. In 1983 she was the first model to sign an exclusive contract with an Haute Couture fashion house in Paris, Chanel. Today she is still actively involved in the fashion world, creating her own designs for her store. She has also written Parisian Chic LOOK BOOK – What should I wear today? and The Parisian Field Guide to Men’s Style. She continues to work in collaboration with various fashion houses. Sophie Gachet who worked with her for this book is a fashion journalist.
Style is about attitude
This book covers four main themes, how to dress, how to look beautiful, how to inject style into your house, and what to do when you are in Paris. Every theme contains colourful paragraphs with thoughts, tips and ideas. There is advice on what to do and what not to do! She makes some very specific suggestions for the basic elements of a comprehensive wardrobe and beauty cabinet. She gives lots of addresses of great stores too, both physical and online.
Ines has created herself the illustrations throughout the pages, and her daughter is the model in the fashion shots. This gives a very personal tone to the book.
The heart of this book
This book definitely achieves its goal, and more. It makes you love style, Paris and yourself! The playful approach makes the ideas relatable and easy to read. And it also makes you realize you don’t need to obsess about rules. For a truly Parisian attitude let your spirit free! Love and respect yourself!
“The Parisian follows a few golden rules, but she likes to transgress too. It’s part of the style.” (p.11)
I like Parisian Chic because it provides guidance without being restrictive; it provides a starting point but leaves enough room for a personal touch. I enjoyed the ratio of words to images. There is enough text to explain and enough images to visualize and inspire. I love the fact that you can also see the author’s character shine through the pages, confident, unapologetic and radiant.
This book makes sense and it doesn’t lead to vanity. It leads to self reflection. Throughout there are remarks reminding us of the basic rules of taking care of ourselves.
“Don’t go bankrupt buying expensive face creams – the best beauty parlor is your local dentist. An attractive smile and great teeth are the best way to forgive and forget the rest!” (p.117)
The message is clear. Don’t try to be someone else; try to be the best version of you. Let yourself shine through understated garments and accessories that function well together. Carefully chosen elements will add finesse to a woman that is oozing confidence and ease.
I first read this book a little after the birth of my youngest daughter. I had just returned to my normal weight and was in need for some new and timeless outfits. In my world, being a mom of two doesn’t allow for extravagant and ephemeral choices; not enough time, not enough money. So I decided to stick to her suggestions and over the years I bought several of those pieces. Her advice never failed me. I managed to accumulate a collection of basic items that can take me everywhere. No need to run around at the last minute. Unless I feel like it!