Upon the Seine, I watch the Eiffel tower’s lights sparkle and gleam upon the riverside. I watch as clouds are indistinguishable from rooftops – as if the boulevards, the appartements and the pedestrians who zigzag across Rue Saint- Honoré – are all encased in a giant globe.
Inside a nightclub in the ninth arrondissement, the temperature is piping hot. The club is awash in the glow of another era, as Parisiennes in their Le Smokings and beret toppers huddle around lamplit tables. A bebop-infected jazz band is jamming on stage, while at the bar two handsome young men provide raucous accompaniment. As the song finishes, the Parisians speak quietly yet so eloquently and the melodiousness of their language dances around my head like a beautiful piece of music. It’s that indefinable aura that prompts the question – what's so captivating about the Parisienne?
During my adolescence, my walls were plastered with Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot and Loulou de La Falaise. My room seemed like a marvellous landscape of a Parisian dream. Even though this entourage of iconic heroines seems to be distant and dim, modern- Francophiles are blazed with the French fire. Parisians were once awe-inspiring; but now they are magical.
At the moment, contemporary culture perceives Parisian chic like an intoxicating poem. Caroline de Maigret et al.’s new book “How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are”, unveils the secret charm. “She is Parisian, which is to say she’s melancholy”, de Maigret writes. “Her mood responds to the changing colours of her city. She can feel a sudden surge of sorrow or even hope for no reason at all.” And the mystery of the everyday French belle is painted with Breton stripes. She wears palazzo pants on her improbably long legs and a romantic paisley blouse with long, billowing sleeves. With her soft accent, the soulful eyes of a Jane Birkin portrait – and a performing career that whisks her from New York to Paris to London – Lou Doillon confesses that “the secret to French style is a certain form of arrogance.” And this French beauty’s tremendous respect for herself landed her the new Maje campaign. Fashion royalty and daughter of former French Vogue editor, Julia Restoin Roitfeld released a collection of bohemian jewellery for Aussie brand ManiaMania.
There is no denying the allure of Parisian chic. Perhaps it’s because the Parisienne went through the 1789 revolution, battled in the Napoleonic and post-Napoleonic wars and currently fights in the war against extremism and terror. You can’t take her down; she is a warrior. And nobody’s going to extinguish what she is – and they bloody well gave it a good shot. But it can’t be extinguish, that mystical aura only the Parisienne possesses.
in loving memory