People watching is one of my favourite past times. I can spend all day watching the passing parade of people and noting their style for my own personal cachè of style ideas. This has definitely been a contributing factor in my learning about fashion and personal style. People watching has taught me be to be daring and bold in my wardrobe choices. I have witnessed moments of fashion triumph and tragedy, but the most important thing I have come to realise is that style is all about doing what you want. Having confidence is where it all begins and a woman who also knows this to be true is street style photographer, illustrator, writer and Parisienne, Garance Dorè.
Garance Dore (photo by Scott Schuman)
About 8 years ago I had an original idea. That idea was to take my camera and photograph strangers on the street who I thought displayed original style and to post them on a website that I updated daily. I was unsure how to ask people for permission to take their picture, but ultimately I lacked the confidence to see my idea through. In fact I lacked everything I needed – except a sense of style. I didn’t even have a camera. So sadly the idea stayed just that, an idea. It wasn’t until I came across the Sartorialist and Garance Dorè last year that I realised how I had missed out on an opportunity to be at the beginning of a pop-culture phenomenon that is what I like to call “the roving fashion editor”. And so, like many of my ideas, I have to accept the fact that if you snooze – you lose.
Garance at work.
Garance Dorè’s blog is a testament to great style. She has been documenting effortless chic since 2006 and her friendship with Scott Schuman (aka The Sartorialist) has recently blossomed into a relationship.
Garance photographing Scott Schulman.
Garance started out in PR for a cinema in the south of France, and after attending the film festival in Cannes a few years running – as well as being young and fearless, she took her book of illustrations to some art directors.
Some of Garance’s illustrations.
But the job was not as it seemed, the commissions were uninteresting and she was cut off from mixing with people as she mostly worked from home. This led to her blog and to a realisation that she liked to write.
“I was the first in France to talk about fashion and illustration this way. I did that for a while but fashion goes with photography, so I picked up my camera. I never thought years ago this would be big, it was just something I thought was different.”
Garance at work and shooting Paris Vogue’s Emmanuelle Alt.
Garance has a style that is based on simplicity. It is obvious from the photographs of Garance that she loves to wear greys and blues, pants and cotton t-shirts. She also loves to wear heels and knows how to accessorise… is there a Parisienne whom doesn’t?
“I love shoes. I’ve got a thing for accessories as well. I have a lot of belts, gloves, scarves… you name it! So, I try to do simple, but always add in a striking detail to catch your attention.” – Garance Dorè
Garance’s personal style is typical la femme française, a mix of everything, wearing Yves Saint Laurent with Gap t-shirts.
Garance’s earliest style influence was her mother. “She was quite daring in the ’80s with her Mugler, Alaïa, and Montana outfits. I would spy on her in her wardrobe where she would spend hours trying stuff on before going to the night club.” – Garance Dorè
Garance’s inspiration wall of family photos.
As a writer and commentator of fashion, I know I must remain impartial, that a person’s confidence shines through in their clothing and to appreciate fashion and all its trends. Garance says the same about trends: “Every time I find something I don’t like, I end up finding someone who wears it in a beautiful and interesting way. Fashion changes so fast that it teaches us to never say never.”
In her own words, this spring’s trends that Garance will be seen wearing are – “Shorts! Harem pants! My green YSL Tributes!”
Garance on the streets of Paris.
Paris is her favourite city to photograph in: “I love Paris. I love it because it is chic and rock at the same time. A certain kind of deconstructed sophistication, effortless, sexy, at least for the girls. Because girls wear heels in a casual way, because they don’t wear too much makeup, and because I love the color of the gray skies here. I haven’t visited the whole world yet, but Paris is my home. Maybe it’s not quite fair, but it will always be my favorite. Paris, je t’aime!”
It is interesting to me to see where the future lies for Garance and her work. The doors that are opening to her now that she is an accomplished photographer and style spotter would be incredible I’m sure. She is taking on work as an editorial photographer and even styling those shoots, which she says is extremely exciting for her.
But her blog remains a huge part of her artistic life – “I’m always trying to improve it, keep it going, and keep street style on the cutting-edge. I don’t want street style to become some gimmick. Inspiration is everywhere, and I don’t want to trap it in one format.”
But if there were no Internet? Where would she be? “I really don’t know… it gives me the opportunity to do different things and meet new people. I think it’s my destiny that I fell for the internet.”
Garance’s words of wisdom in dressing like a French Woman are not unfamiliar when we think about women in Paris. One only has to scour Garance’s work on her blog to see how her list has been made. Stripes, scarves and layers. That sexy detail when dressing up – short skirts, la Perla lingerie, off the shoulder blouse, etc… Messy, long hair, monochromatic colour, heels or flats, it’s up to you. A nonchalant air, smoky eye make-up, and finally… “The French woman is. The present is her sole religion. In fact, the mystery behind the French woman is that she has confidence in herself, despite all the nonsense she says. There’s the secret to her indestructible Frenchitude.”
Asked if she has ever been confronted with a subject unwilling to be photographed (a fear I had when dreaming up my idea all those years ago) she says that it has never happened because she can usually feel when not to ask a person. She is instinctual and stylish, oui?
A Day in the life of Garance Dorè – Mid Fashion Week…
Oh my God, 9 o’clock and I’m already tired! First things first: I log on to my computer to post my newest fashion week pictures in my blog. Have a coffee while checking my e-mails, then grab a taxi over to the Karl Lagerfeld show near the Eiffel Tower.
Hmm, good-looking crowd. I take a few pictures outside the tent before going in. These clothes always seem like a good appetizer before the king’s finale!
There are no taxis to be found after the Lagerfeld show, so I jump onto a bus that will get me back to the Tuileries. The bus is jam-packed, but it is by far the most fashionable bus I’ve ever seen. I run into my friend Jil Ann and we talk about the shows; we both loved Anne Demeulemeester yesterday. Fashionistas have a hard time standing on the bus with their high heels. At every turn they teeter-totter and almost fall down. Quite funny.
I have a few stories to write. I’m also a journalist and these fashion weeks make my schedule totally crazy. I love to work at home, but there’s no time to go back to the Marais. I have a coffee and a cigarette in a café on the rue du Faubourg St.-Honoré. During the fashion weeks, this street looks like a catwalk, with all the fashion people making a stop at Colette. But I should stop looking at the street and get back to my work.
OK, time to get organized. If I want to eat today—and I do—this might be the perfect moment. I meet with a friend and we have a typical Parisian fashion lunch—steak tartare and too many glasses of Sancerre; all the while talking about photography and how to find inspiration.
Off to the Dries show! I always love to get there early. This season the show is in the Palais Royal. Ooh la la, that is one great location. Beautiful waiters are offering me mint tea and macaroons. I have a hard time resisting, but I bought leather leggings recently and I really want to be able to wear them soon. So no macaroons.
Lacroix shows at the Tuileries. Each time I go there I am reminded of the beauty of fall in Paris.
Kim, from a Hong Kong magazine I will never be able to spell the name of, wants to interview me. We have a hot chocolate together.
I spend one hour in a taxi trying to reach the Givenchy show.
Givenchy, Givenchy, Givenchy. Everyone wants to be there. I run into Marie-Pierre Lannelongue from Elle, who is quite pleased with the results of a shoot I worked on for her. Good feedback is the food of any artistic work, (I hear that! – H).
Back to work. I want to rest a little bit before going to the Sonia Rykiel party.
Never go back home if you want to party. I’m too tired and still have a lot of work to do. I call my friends to tell them what an old nanny I am, order Thai food, have a glass of wine, and start my computer. There’s a good chance I will still be working in four hours. I want to be fresh for the Stella McCartney show tomorrow morning.
Sigh… Je suis assez jaloux!
ciao for now, Hx
Thank you to The Swelle Life, a fabulous blog that you should all visit!
Sources: Refinery29.com, Garance Dorè, The Swelle Life, Style.com, A Cup of Jo.