Ever wondered the secrets behind the life and style of Parisian women? Their cultural DNA has been decoded by a number of books, but none do it as well as How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are.
It’s a light-hearted guide to adding a little je ne sais quois to the everyday and approaching life’s questions with ‘what would a Parisian do’?
The book is written by four successful, bohemian-cool Parisians that make you wish you were in their gang. Audrey Diwan is a scriptwriter and film director as well as editor-at-large for Stylist magazine, while Sophie Mas is a producer with her own film company.
Author Anne Berest wrote a biography of Francoise Sagan this year and writes for television, cinema and theatre. Then there’s model Caroline de Maigret, the epitome of Parisian cool who is not only an ambassador for Chanel and muse to Lancome, but also studied literature at the Sorbonne.
Anyone who has known a Parisian woman will attest to how awe-inspiring, captivating and stubborn they can be. My Parisian friend Coralie has always intrigued me – she just seems to instinctively know how to live well and make it look effortless, whether it’s the right beauty regime, a chic accessory or being worldly and opinionated. I recognised so much of her in this book.
Every aspect of the Parisian mystique is uncovered in the book, from fashion and beauty to dating, sex and parenthood.
On the fashion side, we learn the essentials of a Parisian’s wardrobe, their distaste for flashy logos, that the colour navy is always chic and the virtues of a signature item that makes you feel great (as long as it’s not Uggs).
Similarly, Parisian beauty is all about au naturel (or at leasting creating the illusion), so go easy on the make-up, don’t bother blow-drying your hair and save the surgery until your forties – even then moderation is key. Oh, and “always be fuckable: when standing in line at the bakery on a Sunday morning, buying champagne in the middle of the night or even picking the kids up from school. You never know.”
Of course, it’s more than just a style guide – there are witty anecdotes and essays on the contradictions and snobbery of Parisian women and how they interact with men, women and the city. There’s the internal anguish over what to eat on a date at Cafe de Flore, making every kiss cinematic and how to make him think you have a lover.
The book also takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to culture, sharing the books that line a Parisienne’s bookshelf (whether she’s actually read them or not), the feminist icons they connect with and the curious art of speaking politics with the mouth and sex with the eyes.
‘Without her girls gang, the Parisienne is incomplete’, but she also values the simple pleasures of being alone, doing exactly what she wants with stolen moments – a true flâneuse.
The book is also peppered with some useful recipes, iconic films to transport you to Paris and little black book addresses (we all agree upon Hotel Amour for a night out).
The illustrations alone are enough to make you want to move to Paris, with photos of the authors and their impossibly cool Parisian friends including Sonia Sieff, Alix Thomsen, Jeanne Damas, Mathilde Warnier and Caroline’s husband Yarol Poupaud, alongside exclusive prints by So-Me.
How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are is witty, beautifully-written book and a reminder of why we can’t help falling in love with all things Parisian.
How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are is available from 4th September (published by Ebury Press, priced £16.99).