There's a mysterious allure about a woman in the most masculine piece of clothing: a tuxedo. Marlene Dietrich, with her love of on- and offscreen cross-dressing, knew it. Yves Saint Laurent knew it when he popularized the term le smoking to describe his take on black-tie eveningwear in 1966 to great fanfare. Women's Wear Daily had a typical reaction: "Standing on the barricades he sows terror inside its institutions," they said of the designer at the time. And fellow enfant terribleHedi Slimane, who recently shot Abbey Lee Kershaw in one of his Saint Laurent suits, knows it. Here, our collection of women in the boundary-pushing classic.
From the Josephine Baker pool to one of Paris's Chinatowns.
Okay, on s'excuse: As some readers, both French and American, have noted, we've occasionally erred in this monthlong blog in covering the fancier — or at the very least, the bobo — sides of the French capital. (And in doing so, we may have inadvertently reflected the growing pains of a city and a country that, as the European elections there last week indicate, is still struggling to fully embrace and absorb the incredible cultural diversity it has amassed in recent decades, becoming home to countless emigrants from North Africa, the Middle East, West Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere.)
Truth is, many would argue, the best Paris, the real Paris, the vital and forward-looking Paris, is the Paris that lies beyond the tourist-y, luxury-branded realms of the Rue Saint-Honoré and the Marais.
"The particularity of Hermès is always of the afternoon and morning and not for the night."
In France, the appointment of a new perfumer to a luxury brand is hotly debated news. People usually squabble over the style and qualifications of the new perfumer. Such was the case when Hermès announced in December that Christine Nagel — the creator behind many Jo Malone fragrances and Narciso Rodriguez for Her — would be its new nose, joining Jean-Claude Ellena, the company's first-appointed in-house perfumer. The Cut spoke with the new perfume duo when they were in town for the Hermès extravaganza All About Women about working together, their take on perfume bloggers, and why Hermès will never do a nighttime scent.
In pursuit of the perfect soft bra to wear this summer, our heads can't help but turn to Eberjey and this delicate, stretchy mesh one embroidered with white eyelet lace. But it's the sexy racerback cut that renders it un soutif sportif — versatile and durable — no strap adjustments needed.
Today, sadly, we bid adieu to our Paris in 30 Days pop-up blog — but not before sending local photographer Nabile Quenum to capture one last look at the early summer sartorial inclinations of French city dwellers. This month, Parisian sidewalks were awash in sleek, minimalist designs: long vests and soft cardigans in black, white, and grays; oversize jackets; and elegantly draped maxi-skirts. For those who weren’t wearing Balenciaga boots or Céline heels, the footwear of choice was almost unanimously sneakers (including a pair of Nike x Riccardo Tisci kicks), paired with black tights or leggings for a fashionably pragmatic look. Click through the slideshow for a look back at effortlessly chic Parisian springtime dressing, from jean jackets to slouchy leather dresses.
Tired of writing the same zealous trend stories for her day job at a French women’s magazine,Valentine Faure — a French journalist based in Paris — decidedearlier this year to launch her own publication on the side. She gathered, amongst many noteworthy topics, a vintage Françoise Sagan interview, a Fran Lebowitz fan page, a breakdown of the looks of dictator’s wives, and a revisiting of Mary McCarthy’s 1963 novel, The Group.
She named it Chic Fille — French for "cool girl. (It stands in contrast to a “Fille Chic” — “stylish girl” — an important distinction that is ideologically rooted in the French publication’s approach.) The first issue, which came out mid-May, is entertaining and intelligent without being haughty; it wholly ignores the urgency of fads. Faure spoke to the Cut about why she decided to launch Chic Fille, what she feels is missing from women’s magazines, and who she thinks is the original “it girl.”
"Obviously talking in front of the judges was intimidating."
Earlier today, Thomas Tait won the inaugural LVMH Prize, chosen from 11 finalists by a jury of superstars including Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Phoebe Philo, Raf Simons, Riccardo Tisci , Humberto Leon of Kenzo, and Nicolas Ghesquière.
The prize of 300,000 euros will give the London-based designer’s business a boost, but it’s the mentorship offered by LVMH that is widely considered to be the greatest win. “The money goes fast, but the mentorship is really important,” said Julie Gilhart, who was on a panel of experts working across the program. “Thomas comes out of that London scene — he’s a true designer — but he’s been on his own and not had a lot of support. This kind of prize will really give him access he needs to mature as a designer.”
Paris tips and style secrets from the designer and boudoir expert.
For our final entry in the French Girls Do It Better series, we've bent the rules just a touch to check in with honorary Parisienne Betony Vernon. The American-born designer, "sexual anthropologist," and author has been living part-time in Paris for the past decade. Click ahead for her thoughts on flats or heels, the best restaurant in Paris, and the one thing a true Frenchwoman would never refuse.
Yesterday, the Cut learned about the wonders of French touch, and a magical-sounding beauty procedure called lymphatic drainage. Despite the name, it's not a service provided by a plombier (plumber), but is actually a special type of lymph-node massage that drains toxins away from the body. Facialist Renée Rouleau, a fan of the technique, explains that a group of Danish doctors working in Cannes during the 1930s found that massaging their patients' swollen lymph nodes alleviated their immune-disorder symptoms, as well as gave them glowing skin.
A chat with a Parisian script doctor (and Joss Whedon's translator) about the good and the bad of French TV.
I've had many a conversation about American versus French pop culture with my Parisian friend Yaële Simkovitch, a script doctor who writes for Tess Magazine (sort of like a French Slate meets Jezebel), has hosted Paris fan summits for Twilight and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the preferred translator of Joss Whedon when he comes to Paris. Simkovitch knows the American TV landscape inside and out and has strong ideas about how it stacks up compared to French TV. Here, we chat about hot French TV shows (and what they're lacking, in her opinion), what French folks think about Girls and True Detective and why she thinks France won't have its own Lena Dunham or Mindy Kaling for a long time coming.
The LVMH Prize finalist on how he got his start, Rei Kawakubo, and more.
Simon Porte Jacquemus is a 24-year-old self-taught designer who started his own label at age 19. Born in Salon-de-Provence in southeastern France, he has worked his way forward wholly independently, and now has his own studio just off the Place des Vosges. His collections feature crop tops, full skirts, oversize T-shirts, jumbo clown coats, blobby dresses, asymmetrical pieces, and slouchy proportions. He revels in “off” taste and juvenilia (he tells me he sat like a well-behaved child waiting in front of his telephone for our interview to begin).
He’s recently published a book in tandem with his spring/summer 2014 collection, La Grande Motte, a reference to a seaside resort in the Languedoc-Roussillon region built in the 1960s and '70s, characterized by its homogenized architecture. He is also one of 12 finalists for the prestigious LVMH Prize, which will be announced today. He spoke to the Cut about Rei Kawakubo, his burgeoning interest in menswear, and why he believes Paris is still the star fashion city.
French women don't get fat, drunk, face lifts, or touch themselves, in that way (the Divinyls way). But even the easygoing French worry about cellulite, a beauty problem so pervasive that it's the same word in French and English. It is a word that sounds no better in a French accent. Through an enlightening conversation with Marie-Laure Fournier, a French beauty publicist who serves as the unofficial Gallic beauty ambassador to American beauty editors, I learned about how the French combat the most unglamorous of beauty problems.
Two weeks of photo-calls, red carpets, galas, and so much more.
Awards season gets a lot of column inches, but when it comes to Major Fashion Moments — capital letters required — the Cannes Film Festival is unparalleled. It’s a two-week Canneslaught of red carpets, photo-calls, and galas, and Hollywood brings it in the form of big skirts, big hits, and big thigh-slits. In the spirit of positivity and love we have all been whipped into following True Love’s Fulfillment (a.k.a., the Kimye Wedding), this slideshow is dedicated to the myriad of ways this year’s film festival underscored the one thing we know to be true: Cannes is simply the best. And yes, that includes saying something nice about Justin Bieber.
Stymied at Septime or some other new joint? Try these instead.
Since many Paris-bound food lovers are often on a frantic quest to try the city’s latest restaurants, it’s easy to forget you can still have some spectacular meals in the French capital without scoring a table at Septime or Restaurant David Toutain. Here’s a little cheat sheet of under-hyped, under-the-radar places — some new, some classics — that have superb food but don’t require an answered prayer or the patience of a saint to land a reservation.
Musings on Carine Roitfeld, fashion as business, and Vanessa Paradis.
Alexandra Senes is a French journalist and creative director. She was the editor-in-chief of Jalouse magazine for eight years, and has written for everyone from Le Monde to Elle to Air France magazine, and consulted for everyone from Hermès to Le Bon Marché. She is the author of Le Paris de Tout Paris, for which she interviewed 100 Parisians, and she served as editor-in-chief of an as-yet-unpublished French edition of Harper’s Bazaar. Right now she is editor of another “top-secret publishing project." As part of our ongoing conversation series between Parisians and their New York counterparts, New York Magazine fashion director Amy Larocca talked with Senes about what it's like to be a fashion editor in France.
Do French editors dress much differently from American editors? French editors invent. French editors push the young génération. French editors play a lot — less then the English — with volumes, ideas, prints. And we want so much to keep our Parisian style that sometimes … well, it’s like this. I have a friend who had her kids in the same school as Vanessa Paradis in Los Angeles. She always said to me, “Really? Vanessa Paradis is famous in France? But she is so dirty!”
Ask anyone who has properly surveyed luxury lingerie for the best silk slips, and she will tell you: Carine Gilson. Pieced by hand in her Brussels workshop, each camisole receives a couturelike due diligence. The end result is a garment that, once slipped on, you might never want to take off. Wear it under a blazer, layer it year round, or pair it with barely nothing, as the French do.
Inside the latest exhibition at Musée Christian Dior in Normandy.
This month in Granville, Normandy, marks the opening of the newest exhibition at the Musée Christian Dior, Dior: The Legendary Images, on view until September 21. The show is a selection of garments and photographs from the 1940s through today, each featuring Dior clothes from across the decades, which coincide with the rise of fashion photography. It was curated by Florence Muller, who previously curated shows at the Villa Noailles, the Le Bon Marché department store, and a celebrated YSL retrospective at the Petit Palais in Paris in 2010.
Press were invited for an official viewing last night, and on a tour of the three-story property — formerly the designer's childhood residence — Muller noted that Normandy’s “strong natural elements — the water, the rocky shore, the wind” were important visual and sentimental cues for Dior. Highlights among the 200 images — featuring shots from greats like Norman Parkinson, William Klein, and Erwin Blumenfeld — were the photographs that underscored just how quintessentially Parisienne Dior's looks were. There’s a Clifford Colin shot of a model in a regal ensemble du soir (S/S 1948 haute couture) ascending the grand staircase of the lavish Opéra Garnier. There’s a droll Arthur Elgort print of a model in an écru linen afternoon dress (S/S 1999 haute couture), poodle in tow, indecisively contemplating three tiered shelves of flaky viennoiseries. There’s a Mark Shaw color print of a model in a full-skirted Palais de Glace dress (A/W haute couture 1957), in front of the Louvre métro entrance with a map in her hand and a skip in her step. It’s a veritable checklist of Paris staples as much as striking fashion. Click through the slideshow for a look at the exhibit.
Caftan body? Check. Cufflinks made by a Yugoslavian prince? Check. André Leon Talley has got this. When readying his trousseau for the hotly anticipated, geographically ambiguous Kimye wedding shenanigans this weekend, he didn't stuff some old cutoffs and holey T-shirts into a beat-up weekender like the rest of us are doing for Memorial Day. No, no. Talley is sharing his entire packing list with Vogue, and it includes dinner caftans.