THE SE­CRET TO FRENCH CHIC

Gaia Re­possi on the essence of Parisian cool.

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents -

CAN ONE TRULY DE­FINE

FRENCH EL­E­GANCE? It is, af­ter all, evanes­cent — a state of mind, an at­ti­tude, a way of be­ing. It in­volves a del­i­cate bal­ance be­tween the nat­u­ral and the so­phis­ti­cated in the pur­suit of the time­less. I am not French by birth. In my blood and in my heart, I am Ital­ian, but I live and work in Paris, and am French by cul­ture. And yet to be French in this re­gard is to learn a code to style that is uni­ver­sal. It re­quires plac­ing one’s senses and one’s spirit be­fore one’s ap­pear­ance. My mother once told me that as jew­ellers we can­not wear os­ten­ta­tious cloth­ing; we had to opt in­stead for so­bri­ety. “We must choose sim­ple cloth­ing, my dear,” she coun­selled. “Oth­er­wise it would be too much with the or­na­men­ta­tion of jew­ellery.” I took note.

Still, I have never been able to re­sist a bit of con­tro­versy, as­sem­bling out­fits with strong con­trasts. Noth­ing daz­zles me more than a woman’s wardrobe whose codes are bor­rowed from a man’s. what I like, and what in­ter­ests and feels modern to me, is an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of jew­ellery with men’s tai­lor­ing. A sober pal­ette can be dis­rupted in a way that sur­prises with shine, ac­cents of light, vol­ume or the ma­te­ri­al­ity of jew­ellery. this con­trast in char­ac­ter, which seems to af­firm a modern woman — a woman who ques­tions in­herited codes of fem­i­nin­ity and who re­fuses to be an ob­ject — is what I find most fem­i­nine.

The modern woman is, of course, open to the world and to the fu­ture, but if she pos­sesses this in­ef­fa­ble French el­e­gance (which is re­ally a uni­ver­sal code), she is also open to echoes and nu­ances of the past and to her own cul­ture. Rather than deny­ing or ig­nor­ing what has come be­fore, one can use its el­e­ments as part of a lan­guage with which to ques­tion and cre­ate a new fem­i­nin­ity. For me, fem­i­nin­ity is most beau­ti­ful and in­ter­est­ing when it is am­biva­lent, and an­drog­yny can de­note a new gen­der. Since I am a creative per­son, my style is my lan­guage; a way in which I speak.

I would en­cour­age you to speak freely as your­self, to be guided by your in­stinct, to be faith­ful to your heart and mind, and to say some­thing. To at­tempt to be per­fect — to dress in a matchy­matchy way, with flaw­less makeup and hair — is not real life. It is a form of si­lence. Con­tem­po­rary el­e­gance, to me, is rooted in an en­light­ened fem­i­nism, in the equal­ity of gen­ders and sex­u­al­i­ties and in free­dom from gen­der.

Our pri­mary el­e­gance is that of be­ing hu­man, above all. And time­less el­e­gance, one that speaks the lan­guage of the fu­ture. An al­tru­is­tic el­e­gance, a for­ward-look­ing el­e­gance, a phil­an­thropic el­e­gance, an en­vi­ron­men­tal el­e­gance — this is what is modern, and this is what our chil­dren ex­pect of us.we must be en­gaged in all that we do, cre­ate and con­sume. that, like French style, is a con­stant.

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