Steel & Lace
“He who contemplates the depths of Paris is seized with vertigo.
Nothing is more fantastic. Nothing is more tragic.
Nothing is more sublime.”
― Victor Hugo
Hubert de Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, Hermes, Rad Hourani, Pierre Balmain, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Paul Marciano, Christian Louboutin, Jeanne Lanvin, Christian Lacroix, Rene Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Sonia Rykiel, Nini Ricci, Thierry Mugler…. Honestly this entire post could just be a list of names!
It is no wonder that designers from all over the world come to Paris to study and work: There is inspiration to be found everywhere and it pays off!
About a month ago I was lucky to spend a week in Paris. October is my favorite time to be there. Most of the tourists have gone, the weather is perfect with the occasional rain storm, the city is starting to decorate for the holiday’s and fashion week has come to a close which means everyone is still hungover on high-fashion. While fashion week in any city certainly brings out the best outfits from the closet, it is the mix of couture and street wear that defines Paris throughout the year. I think this has greatly been influenced by the city’s regal buildings while also being a city of the people. The Eiffel Tower captures this style eloquently: it is steel and lace. There is a softness in its’ utility and design. You don’t have to look very hard in Paris to find this duality. Behind each unassuming door is a beautiful courtyard filled with greenery and intricately laid flooring. But that’s just it, on the surface Paris is unassuming, easy, but laced with complexity. It is a city that is defined by a notion of love and is looked upon through those glasses only.
In my opinion the designers who can take off the glasses of love and look at Paris for all its’ complexities are the ones who have made it. They use the greyness of the buildings, unassuming doorways, the air of the people, the the certain je ne se quoi attitude, they borrow from the vibrancy of the Jardin des Tuileries, the geometry of the Louvre, the senses overload from a simple baguette, the smoke from the cafe, and the casual citizen reading Voltaire on the street side. All these experiences which are typically exposed one at a time to the casual tourist, are combined into what we have come to call Haute Couture. We can point out its’ individual features but what makes it undeniably overwhelming is its’ combination of the immeasurable.
And while Haute Couture is something to admire let’s not forget about what the person sitting next to you at the cafe or walking past you on the street is wearing. Their style has every bit of influence on the runways as the intricacies of Sacre Coeur. Typically dressed in varying shades of black, grey, or navy every piece is assembled with the greatest of care and the keenest of eye. Boutiques cater to the fashion of the day while maintaining a sense of timelessness and this shows throughout the city. It comes at no surprise that there are hundreds of books dedicated to the way French Women and Men dress. They seem to have it all right.
So what to wear when in Paris? If you have the bank account I say splurge on haute couture but for most of us this is not the case. Keep it simple. Pack pieces that can be mixed and matched without being overly complicated. Here are a few of my suggestions incase you find yourself in Paris or just want to do as the Parisian’s do.
1. ShopBop Sigerson Morrison Scarlett Flat Booties, 2. Gigi New York Parket, Satchel, 3. H&M Tuxedo Pant, 4. West L.A. Blocked Black Cape, 5. Nordstrom Glamorous Long Car Coat, 6. Anthropologie Mona Dress, 7. Reiss Alexandra Pencil Skirt, 8. Ann Taylor Crepe Embellished Shirt 9. Sonia Rykiel Oversized Jumper