THE SECRET TO FRENCH CHIC
Gaia Repossi on the essence of Parisian cool.
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.