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paris fashion notes

carrie-bradshaw-satc-movie1-previewimages-2Ever since I quit my advertising job, I’ve spent very little time on Madison Avenue (meaning Barneys and Bergdorf, or as I liked to call them with a certain amount of sour grapes, fashion victim central). I havn’t looked at a Vogue, Harpers Bazaar or Elle since pink was the new black

Needless to say, I’d been feeling hopelessly out of place on the New York city streets for quite awhile. Sure, there was my out of style Levis and non-brand name tee shirts, but more importantly, my face still moves. I often got the feeling that women I knew recoiled in shock, horror and pity when I smiled or furrowed my brow. I was also convinced that I was the only remaining B cup left in Manhattan, which I think may have qualified me for my own personal display in the Museum of Natural history.

Aside from the 600 dollar price tag for a lousy shot of botulism toxin (wouldn’t it be cheaper to cultivate my own? I had some funky looking cans of soup that were probably chock full of the coveted poison), the whole idea of injecting something that used to have a skull and crossbones on the label into my face seemsto be pushing fate. And major surgery to insert huge plastic globes in my breasts seems more ridiculous than…well, cutting off my ear.

So when I go to Paris, I watch the women with interest trying to get an idea of what’s in style and whether my next move will have to be to a country where Burkas are mandatory.

carla-bruni-sarkozy_0The good news is, I won’t have to move to Iran for several years, at least.images

The first thing I notice (or don’t notice) is the omnipresent low cut satiny lingerie type blouses with huge plastic breasts on display with cleavage up to the chin aren’t present. Not a one. Nor is the night of the living dead parade of bandaged women on the streets that’s so popular on Madison avenue and Soho. Maybe the French just have the good taste not to emerge until their plastic surgery scars have healed. And I won’t have to invest in absurdly low cut jeans or acquire the obligatory rolls of fat that accompany them (where is lipsuction when you need it?

I scrutinize the French womens’ faces and smile at them. They smile back and their eyes actually crinkle. Some of the women even have grey hair, god forbid. Further, their faces are not caked with Lancome, Chanel and all the other ridiculously expensive make up products American women seem to believe are the height of fashion in France. And the B cup seems to be the norm here—for the first time in ages, I almost feel adequate. These women actually look human.

Before I left New York, I consulted a couple of fashion experts to see what the summer trends would be, just to make sure I didn’t stand out like a sore thumb. I was told to wear wedgies with two inch platforms and another four inch of heels, brightly colored skirts, tiny little sweaters and to carry a large brightly colored leather bag, preferably by Louis Vuitton or Prada if I didn’t want to feel hopelessly out of place. Thank goodness I couldn’t afford to take their advice or I would have felt hopelessly out of place.

The women here seem to be much more casual, usually wearing jeans, cargo pants or a simple dark slightly above the knee length skirt, blazers and very basic small leather purses. Their shoes are generally stylish, yet comfortable looking. And there’s not a tiny sweater in sight.   I’m pretty sure Carrie Bradshaw would have been laughed out of town.

As further research, I enter a couple of drug stores and the cosmetic departments of department stores. Unlike the mile long displays of exhorbitantly priced French named cosmetics found in the US, the array is small and simple, mostly devoted to skin care, rather than cover ups. And unlike the 200-500 dollar miracle creams peddled in the US, the creams here are in the 50 Euro range and seem to have the same miracle incredients.   Creme de la Mer is nowhere to be found.

The clothing lines are simple, consisting of names that for the most part, I haven’t heard of. And the only place I can find Channel, Louis Vuitton, Versace, and the other designer names popular in the US is on the Rue St. Honore-Fauborg, where the only languages spoken seem to be American, German and Japanese.

Isn’t Paris the fashion capital of the world? What’s going on here? Is it possible that the women here are guided by some innate sense of style, rather than the fashion magazines?

I begin to think that the designers and fashion magazines have been pulling the wool/gabardine blend over Americans’ eyes all these years. Is the still  booming billion dollar plus US beauty and fashion industry based on a lie?   Why not?   It seems most of our billion dollar industries are.   So now my only remaining fashion question is how can I cash in on that lie so I can afford to buy the $2,000 dollar Louis Vuitton purse I saw in a store window.


The real housewives of elysee palace A look at President Sarkozy’s many wives and their many lovers.  Lots of information and pix of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.    And you thought the Kennedys were busy.


A sad addendum regarding French women and cosmetic enhancements.    I just came upon this recent photo of Carla Bruni.  Hopefully it will scare other French women from doing it.

2 Responses

  1. How deprived those poor women are who must survive on socialized medicine! You are so lucky to have a choice of how you won’t get implants or botox, Ms. Stern.

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