Most of you know Richard Nahem as our Paris insider.
He runs the very successful Parisian style & what to do in Paris blog Eye Prefer Paris when he’s not taking a lucky few around the Marais for one of his personalized walking tours over at Eye Prefer Paris Tours.
BUT, I’ve known Richard forever.
Way back from a high school spring break trip to Florida kind of forever.
We met while sitting it out on a fiberglass bench while bored to death at Jai-Alai and have disco-ed our way as friends ever since. (Secret: Richard can identify almost any disco song from the first three beats).
This time, Richard turned the tables on me as he knows what a French Chic fiend I am and asked me a few intimate question on how to get street style inspired, chic Parisian style even if you come from Brooklyn! Like us.
Have a read of my interview which appeared on Richard’s blog yesterday.–S.H.
I have been friends with Sharon Haver since I was 20 years old and she has always been obsessed with Parisian chic. Sharon, a former celebrity fashion stylist, is editor in chief of the popular site www.focusonstyle.com, where she dispenses fashion tips and advice so the everyday woman can adapt celebrity style on their own terms. I interviewed Sharon about her take on Parisian chic, so you could use her tips and create your own French style. Don’t forget to join Sharon’s free stylist newsletter and receive a free copy of Passport to French Chic.
I know your readers on FocusOnStyle.com are obsessed with achieving French Chic. How do you define Parisian style?
French Chic style is all about looking as effortless as possible, yet just so. It’s knowing what works on you and never second guessing it. It’s confidence, even a bit of haughtiness, but never overdone. There’s a certain ease and elán about the ladies of Paris; particularly when they “dress up” for fashion shows that they are able to maintain a very natural elegance that is never forced or drab.
Who are some French style icons you think exemplify French chic?
I prefer the much more off-handed easy styled ladies that more bourgeois styling so Ines de La Fressange for classic style, of course. Marion Cotillard always looks so beautiful and natural in her choices. Emanuelle Alt for the eternal rocker chic look. So many French actresses have that “it” without overdoing it that I wish Americans would learn on the red carpet. Sophie Marceau comes to mind for that.
What are some of the essential wardrobe pieces a woman should have to attain Parisian style?
The best assortment of classic pieces that can become the glue to her every styling mood- the perfect coat, jacket, heels, flats, and bag. After those pieces are in place, everything becomes so much easier to mix around.
What are the key differences between the way French women dress and American women?
The French understand that a good part of being chic is knowing when to say no.
Americans, particularly fashionistas, are more trendy and the French incorporate a few trends with their classic pieces that makes the styling more timeless and elegant.
But, what I think is the greater differentiator is the way the French where makeup that doesn’t wear them. Their look is much more natural and celebrate’s their uniqueness rather than hiding behind the mask of odd-colored spray tans, heavy makeup, fluorescent white veneers, bleached yellow hair and ridiculously long hair extensions. So many American’s get trapped in this fake glamour and end up looking alike. Whilst the French opt for a more no-makeup makeup look of a smokey eye and defined natural or matte red lip that spotlights rather than camouflages their features. And, yes, there are plenty of natural brunettes.
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What are some of the important looks from the Paris runway this season?
Ah, glad you asked. I think that as the media now publishes fashion show looks as they are shown on the runways that the directional idea of the trend itself becomes more important than the actual piece that may not be in stores for months. Therefore, we curated the best looks to try now from the Spring 2014 Paris Runways on FocusOn Style.
Dries Van Noten, Rochas, Nina Ricci, and Christian Dior made a strong case for metallic finishes are are more subtle like a silver or gold leaf rather than shiny and cheap.
There is also a rethinking of pleats in general. They are not the stiff school uniform or 80s business professional look but softer, and even asymmetrical, for a fluidity in movement.
Which runway accessories are a must?
Gold statement jewelry is looking fresh & see in all its glory at Balmain, Valentino, Alexander McQueen.
There is lot’s of fringe details, a lot reminds me of a vintage YSL bag that I own. It’s more an elegant take on texture than hippie looking. Valentino, Alexander McQueen, Celine, and Junya Watanabe were strong on it for Spring 14.
Who are your current favorite French designers?
Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, Celine, Alaia, and Maison Martin Margiela (I wear a lot). I have to admit as a fan of vintage Yves Saint Laurent, at first I wasn’t too crazy about Hedi Slimane heading the new Saint Laurent direction. Heritage aside, there are some very nice modern classic pieces there.
As far as French labels to wear for everyday chic, I like the usual suspects like Zadig & Voltaire, Gerard Darel, Jerome Dryfuss, Isabel Marant, Antik Batik, A.P.C., Barbara Bui, Comptoir de Cotonniers.
What is your favorite fashion item you bought in Paris?
Honestly, as much as I wear French clothing & LOVE French chic style, I don’t really buy that much in Paris. Living in New York makes almost any designer brand accessible, plus as a fashion insider, you know about sample sales (big smile). Of course, anything in that “orange box” is just a wee bit more special when it was purchased in Paris.
What I do buy abroad are home style pieces & objects that I can’t find stateside- either antique or small home style designers. They become luxury “souvenirs” from my travels. One of my favorite Parisian items is a very large silver glass vase and accompanying bowl that I constantly replace in my home as it fits perfectly everywhere! I found in an interior design store near the Pompidou Center that I don’t believe is there any longer. I discovered some super unusual vintage corkscrews and bar objects for my husband when we went to Clignancourt flea market together, that I just adore. And, a large square gold leather tray in a small shop in the Marais that I keep my bracelets on.
If money were no object and you could buy either one piece of French clothing or accessory, what would it be?
I don’t really pine for clothing that way. If money were no object, I’d want a Paris pied a terre with huge windows that overlooks a garden. Yes, I’d have to decorate it- that’s where the budget can get tricky.
I am thinking about a vintage Hermes Trim bag a lot but haven’t been moved to buy one just yet. Almost everything in Cartier gets my heart rate going, so a little Panther here or there, would be lovely.
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