Wallflower Dispatches

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The Charming Mountain Goat – French Style Note for Simpletons

May 2nd, 2008 · No Comments · Charming Mountain Goat, Jacqueline Kennedy, South of France




Despite having graduated from the Katharine Hepburn School of Dressing, taken an emergency diploma at the Jackie O. Summer School of Wearing Sunday Best (module: skirts and dresses) plus an unhealthy teenage obsession with the Fred Astaire’s sartorial accessories, to me ‘fashion’ always started and ended with a well-cut white cotton shirt.


Only after the arrival of Piglet 1 and Piglet 2 were jeans truly welcome in my wardrobe – like the visiting distant relative who needs to be invited to dinner because he is in town. It would be impolite not to, but then you end up having a very nice time and wonder why you didn’t get together before.


French fashion on the other hand has always fallen into two categories: fussy and excessive or unreachably stylish and elegant. Either way: not designed for fast sprints after a bus or baby.


In southern France however, all this is irrelevant. Age, money, gender, weight, shape, editorial fashion directives; no one cares – well, not really…. At any given time in the year your can see 70 year old women wearing mini-skirts, young girls wearing their mother’s old boho dresses, teenage school children sporting yellow jeans with pink Converse trainers, 75-something husbands in red trousers and lavender sweaters accompanying their wives to the supermarket. If this all conjures up images of horror and ridicule, it’s actually just fun to watch and not as ludicrous as it might read.


Is it the setting, the way the light falls? A dress purchased in one of the many provençal markets has as much fashion kudos as a designer handbag or wicker basket. Youth alone doesn’t automatically turn you into a beautiful goddess and you are not ready for the scrapheap once your first, second or even 10th line is showing or your stomach muscles are not quite what they used to be. Expressing oneself through clothes loudly and clearly is not the prerogative of a 17 year old, but a way getting through life and just one of the ingredients for having fun growing older. Are you beginning to understand why Gérard Depardieu is considered a sex symbol around here?


Everyday fashion is as important or unimportant as a good coffee, a nice glass of wine and an intelligent conversation with the neighbours.


Nowhere in the world would the following fashion icons sit quite naturally side by side: Andrée Putman (83), Catherine Deneuve (65), Charlotte Rampling (62), Caroline of Monaco (51), Inès de la Fressange (50), Charlotte Gainsbourg (35) and Charlotte Casiraghi (21). Note: no plastic surgery, drugs or other artificial stimulants were involved in creating these trendsetters.  


And here is the paradox. You’d be hard-pushed to find a copy of any of the above wandering around the streets anywhere in France. Because all you have to think about when getting dressed in the morning and to really follow in their footsteps, just remember this one piece of style advice: Be yourself.



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