Paris | 2017


City  Paris
Age  70
Love life  Single
Profession  Retired. She used to be a lawyer before she worked in the vintage haute couture shop, La Petite Robe Noire. She is an expert about the little black dress.
Years in Paris  All her life 
Location  Café Le Nemours


T H E  P A R I S  S T O R I E S






  • What does Paris mean to you?
    “For me, Paris is normal. I don’t walk around the city every day thinking ‘wow.’ Sometimes I enjoy the city because of the perfect light or the magnificent monuments, but it can also be very boring. Why does everyone want to come here? Because of the refinement. French people tried to make a combination of beautiful buildings, furniture and everything. We are particularly lucky in Paris, pleasure and beauty are everywhere. But to see that you need to have an educated eye. It can be something very simple:  a painting, a sculpture, wonderful jewelry in the window of Cartier. You don’t have to buy it to enjoy it. Refinement is not about expensive things, it’s a way of life. It’s about trying to make your life as pleasant as possible. If you are wealthy, you can take wonderful trips, but if that is not the case, you can enjoy your life here. But it is better to weep in a Rolls than in the metro.”
  • What is your biggest struggle in life?
    “I have a lot of struggles. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. But you are always fighting against something. There will always be something revolting in life. You can’t accept that people are dying because they don’t have food. It can be big topics like that or little, little things. The day that you don’t have those strong feelings anymore, you are dead.”
  • What is the biggest lesson life has taught you so far?
    “I have no lesson to give. Absolutely not. But it’s safe to say: if you want to make it in fashion… please do it yourself, because I am not there to feed you. These days it is horrible, because they don’t let people use their brain. They are feeding people on the television with news and people are like bleep bleep bleep, they just absorb it. People become brainless. They don’t make reserves for their own information. When I was a child, my mother used to read two newspapers a day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. When you are reading, your brain is working and you have to think about the information you get. And when you write something, you have to carefully choose your words, decide if it is white, black or in between and explain that clearly. But when you are speaking, who cares? You can say something one day and something else the next day. It is gone in the wind as soon as you open your mouth.”
  • What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
    “Be natural. I try to do that, being who I am. I think it was Balenciaga (famous Spanish fashion designer) who gave that advice to me. Or maybe it was Ungaro (famous French fashion designer). Because when you are natural, you feel good and won’t make mistakes. It’s a terrible mistake to play a character, because you always have to think about that and you can’t enjoy life.”

  • What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
    “Meeting certain people. Maybe you have a dream to have a certain career and there is a big gap between the dream and what you are doing. And then you meet someone and it turns out to be great because it makes things happen. You have no proclamation for this, it just happens in an instant, voilà. You always have to leave a window open for those things.”
  • What advice would you give other women in Europe?
    “Ow! I hate this question, I have no advice to give, my life is my life. You don’t need advice or lessons from someone else, you must decide for yourself what you believe in or not. My parents were the only ones who were in a position to tell me what to do.  That was normal. They were both very artistic, but said that I should do something serious and that is why I studied law. When you are young, you have to take opportunities. Except if you are a genius. Mozart was Mozart and Balenciaga was meant to be the most famous designer in the world. But if you are normal: just try! Sometimes life is taking a risk and jumping over the border to see what happens. It can be wonderful or not, but you have to do this alone and for yourself and not because somebody else told you so.”

  • What do you regret in life?
    “I would have loved to be smarter. I am not a silly goat, but I would have loved to be more intelligent than I am. But you have the brain you have.”

  • What are you insecure about?
    “The future. I only have a small future in front of me. I have no crystal ball, and I can’t tell what I will do. It’s not black, it’s not white, it’s foggy. You have to go through when it is misty. It’s good to project yourself in the future, but you also have to live your everyday life. My biggest fear is to lose my mind. Death is not the problem, everybody is dying, but suffering is another thing. I am always anxious about that, and I want to stop before that happens. I have to go to another country for that. I am alone, so it’s not a problem.”

    • What is your biggest dream or your ultimate goal in life?
    “When I was really young my dream was to go to the opera. Because I loved opera and music, I am crazy about Mozart and of course Wagner. So I made a trip to Munich. I went there a lot of times, and I enjoyed it a lot. It was also a dream at the time to meet opera singers and that happened. It was like a coronation of that part of my life. But now…your head can be in the clouds, but you also need to have two feet on the ground. This is the end of my life and I have to be here and not in another part of life.”

    • Does the typical Parisienne exist?
    “To me La Parisienne is not la petite Française. This word is disgusting. I hate it when people say ‘Oh, so you are la petite Française.’ That is a brainless woman, a Parisienne needs to be someone else. It can be an icon, but nowadays I don’t see icons, everything is iconic, ew! The real Parisienne is like a wild cat. We are very feline. She has allure, she is chic. But she is not elegant, she has no time to be elegant. Elegant is something you have to learn, but chic: no. Chic you are. It’s in the air. Think of fashion designer Paloma Picasso in the old days. You don’t have to wear haute couture to be chic or be tall or pretty, it’s something else. The Parisienne knows who she is and what she wants. She does not care what others think. She is a free spirit with a big personality. She is not brilliant, but she is smart. She can be very young or middle aged. If I am typical Parisienne? No not at all. I am what I am. I am just trying to make a portrait for this interview. The painter Kees van Dongen made a portrait of the real Parisienne. I never in my life saw a real Parisienne. But van Dongen… he met her.”

Photos by Florian Bremaud


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