Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange with Sophie Gachet

This is a great book if you're planning a trip to Paris, or if you are lucky enough to have ample disposable income to afford international shipping rates, and designer goods.  Ms. de la Fressange provides web addresses and phone numbers for most of the shops in her resource guide, which takes up the latter three-quarters of the book.  There are some shops that are labeled "Paris Exclusive" and those are strictly local.  There are some retailers which have international locations, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

The first part of the book, Chapters 1-6, details style, including which items the author believes should be in every woman's wardrobe, how to dress like a Frenchwoman, accessories and jewelry, and style rules and how to break them.  

The second part of the book, the last three quarters, consists mostly of a resource guide to traveling in Paris: where to shop for just about anything, including clothes, accessories, children's clothing and toys, jewelry, food, books and art.  She also has recommendations for sights to visit when one visits Paris, such as gardens, museums, cafes and restaurants, and little out-of-the-way places known only to Parisians.

The book is a great guide to French style and culture.  The author reveals how French women keep themselves stylish and well-maintained throughout their lives.  Ms. de la Fressange has a breezy, lighthearted writing style that makes the book a quick and easy read.  

She does list some affordable retailers, like Muji, which specializes in boxes, available in stores internationally, and also Shakespeare & Company, the legendary bookstore which is now a chain, with stores in New York City, among other locations.  

The book itself is a beautiful product:  The soft cover is done in textured paper, with gold lettering and a self-portrait done by the author.  It comes with a cloth bookmark attached, so you never lose your place.  The design of the book, the text, fonts and artwork between the covers, are colorful, yet subtle, not garish or difficult to read.  Ms. de la Fressange did the illustrations, and the photographs were done by various photographers, including Ms. de la Fressange and Ms. Gachet.  The book is free of typos and errors in grammar and spelling.  This book is very stylish, and you won't be ashamed to be seen reading it in public.  

In conclusion, I think the book would appeal to readers who are interested in French style and culture, and those who are planning on visiting Paris, or those who wish to take an "armchair vacation" and read about a foreign country, known for its culture and style.  

As far as a thorough and complete examination of style, there are many books that are better suited to that task, by authors including Tim Gunn, Anna Johnson, and Nina Garcia, among others.  As I'm sure you know, there are also many magazines, excellent blogs and websites dedicated to style, fashion and beauty, as well as television shows like Project Runway, and networks devoted to lifestyle and fashion.  

Apparently the media is on a mission to make sure no one can complain, "I have nothing to wear!" when they're getting dressed.  One of the best pieces of advice I gleaned from this book was that a woman should know herself and her body, to know what works for her, and what pleases her.  That's when your style starts to come together.  

It always sounds so easy, until you start getting dressed.