Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Weighing in on Parisian Chic
Author and goddess de l'age, Ines de la Fressange
A dear friend rewarded me with a copy of the lovely style guide, Parisian Chic, by Ines de la Fressange. I've devoured it slowly so as to separate the wheat from the chaff.
That is to say, there's good stuff in here, and there's other stuff. And there's a bit of filler. So let's begin with the good stuff.
1. Ines herself. Lovely, of course. An inspiration in her honesty of life in l'age without botox.
2. It looks and feels like a Moleskine notebook, so that's all good. A very clever bit of publishing style which makes you want to own the book.
3. Advice on the basics: I won't go into the details but the basics are there and do solve a lot of problems for most of us.
4. The makeup tips: Fabulous. Nothing worse than a woman in l'age wearing frosted anything. Excellent advice here.
5. Golden rule: Avoid the head-to-toe look of ladies-who-lunch. Sage advice and a dead giveaway that you lived through the '80s and haven't let go.
6. Flats of all kinds: Let's face it, day to day, we need ballet flats, sandals and discreet running shoes. In my little foray into Italy and France last year virtually all the natives were in flats. Switch in the office, at the party, in the bar - but let's accept flats as de riguer. At 5'5" I'm with 5'10" Ines on this one.
Stuff I could have done without:
1. All fashion photos featuring her teenage daughter: Now really, nepotism is all well and good but in a book for women in l'age, who wants to see how these clothes work on an 18 year old? Presumably she might have tapped into any number of Parisian girlfriends for this job.
2. The rather long shopping guide: Clearly filling in space. Less might have been more here.
3. Shameless flogging for Roger Vivier: Now I'm a fan of M. Vivier and have been since he made boots for Diana Vreeland, but like Madame 'French Women Don't Get Fat' and her shameless flogging of Veuve Clicquot Champagne in the guise of a diet book, I know a marketing campaign when I see one. She didn't need to be quite so flagrant in her 'implied' endorsement.
And finally, while French style as put forward by Ms. de la Fressange is great advice, if the world solely reflected the discreet good taste of the chic French woman it would be a dull place indeed. A baseline - yes, a rule absolument non. Just too safe. There's more to life and style than a navy blue v-neck and I, for one, will continue to explore other slightly more eclectic options.
All that said, Parisian Chic will remain on my bedside stack of reliably enjoyable reads for both the near and distant future.