I’ll never forget sitting at a fashion show in Paris some years ago and watching, with a mix of rapture and envy, as the editor of French Vogue Emmanuelle Alt sauntered in to take her front-row seat. In the midst of an absolute circus of an audience – in which I include myself – of patterned mini dresses, kaleidoscopic hair colours, varying heights of crazy-looking heels, she drew all eyes to her and do you know what she was wearing?
Skinny black jeans, a black T-shirt and a black blazer. Her accessories were a phone and a necklace. Her long black hair was barely brushed. She wore no (at least detectable) make-up. A Parisian straight out of central casting if ever there was one and the most naturally glamorous being I had ever seen. As if that wasn’t envy-inducing enough, she was holding the hand of her daughter, I’d guess aged six. She wore dark-blue skinny jeans, an artfully slouchy white button-up shirt and white high-top Converse trainers. So grown-up. So chic. As I watched this quintessentially French pair take their seats, I nearly collapsed giggling to myself because it’s quite something to have spent a fortune on ‘front-row worthy’ clothes (a mauve suit, I recall) and still feel you’ve come up short next to a child. Then I remembered that earlier that morning my nanny had texted me a picture of my daughter, four, on a playdate. She was wearing a pink and purple onesie with a massive picture of Dora the Explorer on its front. The French women just have ‘it’, don’t they? The chic gene. It’s something we explore here with the author, stylist and herself a glamorous French woman Aloïs Guinut.
But I want to stick up for this less glamorous side of the Channel for a moment. I think the French school of thought slightly wants people to fear fashion, whereas the British sensibility is to have fun with it. That’s what I try to do most days. Fashion should be fun, experimental and expressing who you are – quirks and all. What would global fashion be without the British gifts of movements such as punk, mod and new romantic? It’s those eras that lit a flame in me and spawned my longing to fly my Australian nest and get to this side of the world. The colour and chaos of Britain’s contributions to fashion is what made this the country I just had to experience. Not France. I’ll also wager that, on that day of Paris Fashion Week, my naff-looking Dora the Explorer-clad kid daughter probably had more fun than the stylish little mini-me traipsing round the adult world of fashion shows.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the French aesthetic. And it’s reassuring to have their style playbook in your box of tricks. Praise be for the frazzled mornings where, actually, some black trousers and a stripy top can be all you need to fool the world that you’re in control.
But, frankly, I just can’t help falling in love with colour, crazy patterns and crops. Furthermore, if I didn’t wear my ‘silly’ jumpsuit-dominated wardrobe, I fear I would be depriving my husband of about 80 per cent of his weekly belly laughs. I’ll never be elegant but I’ll never be boring either.
A few things I’m coveting this week
Buy now, wear for ever. Shirt, £195, yaitte.com
Such a happy, summery trinket. Bracelet, £39, Anni Lu, couvertureandthegarbstore.com
Recycled plastic has never looked so lovely. Bag, £60, noblemacmillan.com