690 of 706 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2011
I bought this based on the reviews, product description, and product video here on Amazon, and was very surprised when I actually received the product. Everything suggests that this is a guide to dressing like a Parisian. For the most part, it is not. Here's why
1. My most important point is that most of this book is not a guide to fashion or style, it's a guide to shopping and travelling in Paris. I did a breakdown, of the 239 pages in the book (many of which are blank, or contain very little text and big cute drawings) 77 pages is comprised of shopping guides (for clothing, housewares, children's goods, almost exclusively shops in Paris, although many have websites), and 55 pages is an idiosyncratic travel guide, listing hotels, restaurants, and some museums and other tourist stops. There is a 16 page guide to home decor and entertaining, 14 pages of beauty tips, leaving only 62 pages discussing fashion and clothing.
2. The fact that only 25% of the pages address the apparent topic of the book wouldn't bother me if those 62 pages provided some really keen observations and solid advice, but the whole thing is very glib and basic. Almost all of the information can be found in nearly any modern style guide. I was hoping for some advice on composition - putting clothes together and accessorizing well - which seems to be the real skill of French dressers. The closest I got was the "mix high and low" chestnut, and advice to dress simply and not be too matchy matchy. So essentially a basic description of what French style is, not how to achieve it. Most of the other advice was of the truly revelatory "you must own a trench and an LBD" variety. Um... thanks.
3. Like many guides to dressing, eating, whatever like the French do, the text is annoyingly reductive. "All Parisians" do this, "all Parisian women" do that... as the author conflates her own experience with every other French woman's. The author is a former supermodel, and at one point claims that all Parisian women are either a size 2 or 4 (they are not). I offer this point as a caution for two reasons. First, this book offers absolutely no advice particular to the challenges women above size 4 might have in dressing well, and many of the suggestions (like shop in the menswear or children's department) are likely inadvisable to the bulk of women. Second, please understand that there is more variety to stylish French dressing than is presented here. The "voice" of the book is pure Ines - which is interesting in its own regard, but more idiosyncratic than she lets on. The only other woman's style or experience discussed is of her mini-me daughter.
4. Many reviewers describe the book as being "like a Moleskin journal." That may be true of the French/European version, but I would describe the North American publication as "sort of looking like a Moleskin journal." It is a fair bit larger, and much thicker, and has a soft, flimsy cover, and matte, slightly rough paperstock inside. The paper has a nice feel, but gives the colour photographs inside a slightly dark look. That's okay, though, since the vast majority of the pictures are silly illustrations and pictures of the inside of boutiques, spas and hotels and are not intended to be instructive in any way.
Overall, Ines de la Fressange seems like a fun enough lady, and the tone of the book is conversational and easy to read. Unfortunately as a fashion guide the book leaves much to be desired. The major advice seems to be, "to dress like a Parisian, buy all your clothes from shops in Paris." Which I probably could have figured out on my own.
Ultimately, the greatest value of this book is as a guide for fashionable people travelling to Paris to go shopping. Even as a travel guide it has its limitations as it lacks any of the basic information one usually requires, like maps or guides to basic transportation. Unfortunately, like any travel guide - especially one discussing fashionable boutiques and with a section sharing the hottest and trendiest current restaurants - I think the practical lifespan on the book is very limited. Guides like Lonely Planet are updated every year for a reason. Since I'm not currently planning to return to Paris within the next couple of years, I fear this book will be of little use to me even as an eventual tourist.
189 of 199 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I anxiously awaited this book. I knew of Ines and and as an ardent Francophile (Francomaniac by my friends), I couldn't wait for this book to appear. What a disappointment. She gives no meaningful advice or insights into her chicness, beauty or style. The photos are all of her daughter.Is it meant to be for a 20 year old? Ines missed a good opportunity to really define the Parisienne and her je ne sais quoi. Instead, the book is filled with generalities. It repeats itself far too much. How many times do we read that it's so chic to push your sleeves up 3/4 or to tie one's belt rather than buckle it (yeah, right; like that looks "chic" on anyone other than a 13 year old Twiggy). I was so disappointed that she did not write a book that shows the progression of French chic from young women to the woman of a "certain age." She's in her 50s. How great it would have been had she shown how she was able to become the style maven and keep that allure well into her 50s. The "advice" on clothing is meaingless. It's not really advice either. The section on beauty is okay but again, the most substantive advice she gave in this section is don't use soap. No big surprise there. Why not say what her beauty routine is or discuss the "principles" of sound skin care, no matter what the age ? It was such a disappointment to say the least. I checked out the on line links she gave for shopping (my trips to Paris, while frequent, do not include for the most part shopping at those addresses). The on line sites where valid (and many were not) would mean shelling out $478 for a skirt. Not too many of us are planning on that kind of budget. The book (physical book) itself is aesthetically attractive. The sketches, even the neat little ribbon book mark, make the book itself a delight to hold in your hand. But this is surely an example of not judging a book by its cover. The interior is banale, superficial and basically "nul" as we say. A sore disappointment.
216 of 240 people found the following review helpful
The book is dedicated "to my new best friend" and then there's a dotted line for you to fill in.
Yes, if the author of a book intended to get you up to speed on Parisian style was just any old supermodel.
But Inès Marie Lætitia Églantine Isabelle de Seignard de La Fressange --- let's call her Inès --- is not like the others. Despite her impeccable breeding (she's a distant heiress to the Lazard banking billions) and her privileged upbringing, she's astonishingly down-to-earth, smart and friendly, with a goofy good cheer that suggests a refusal to take herself very seriously. Proof: at 53, she walked the runway for Lagerfeld, never having had plastic surgery or even Botox.
Interesting story there. In the `80s, Inès was the first model to have an exclusive contract --- with Lagerfeld. A few years later, she was asked to be the image of Marianne, the native beauty who is the symbol of the French Republic. Lagerfeld ended their relationship, saying, "I do not dress up historic monuments." Inès went on to start her own company and consult for Roger Vivier. But it wasn't until she was named the chicest woman in France by the readers of Le Figaro and became the French face of L'Oreal that Lagerfeld had to have her back.
"Parisian Chic: A Style Guide" is like a visit with a friendly, clear-eyed woman you trust immediately. It's the best kind of guide book --- you not only get information, you get it in context. That is, you learn quite a lot about the author and how she came to her opinions:"In the magazines we see the latest fashion, on gorgeous girls, but in my book I just wanted to help the busy woman --- a woman who is not thin, and not that fat, but in a hurry, in a hurry, in a hurry! Because we are all a lot like this --- too much tummy, not enough time."
At 230 pages, published in nicely bound soft cover, with whimsical illustrations and terrific photographs, her book is the best guide to personal style --- and to Paris --- I've ever seen. If I were a woman and had any relationship to Paris, I'd memorize it.
Shall we take the tour?
Part I is "How to Dress Like a Parisian." She serves up one absolute after another. No complete outfits. Don't look "rich." Wear two scarves. Make sure you own the following: a man's blazer, a trench coat, a navy sweater, a tank top, a little black dress, jeans and a leather jacket. And Converse sneakers. And flats:"Some people think that shoes are ladders. No man is going to say, 'I would love you so much more if you were 10cm taller.' Women are suffering, you know. Elegance is about feeling nice, how can you feel nice when you have shoes that are like a prosthesis?"
What to buy, what to wear, when to wear it: this is the first third of the book. (The most important thing goes unsaid --- you don't follow fashion slavishly. You're better than that. You have the confidence to believe you're attractive to men, and dress to please yourself. But you know all that, right?) Then it's on to shopping. ("I love buying new things because I like to be a stranger to them.") Inès offers an excellent guide to not-obvious Paris shops --- and their online stores. She shares her beauty regime. ("Wear makeup every day, even on weekends. Your family wants to see you at your best, too!")
And then Inès pulls the curtain wide open and devotes half the book to her own life: "Chez Moi." Keep it simple. Display art by children. And then another section on shopping, this time for the home. A short list of museums, bookstores --- and a public restroom you'd never find on your own. Manicurists. Just a dozen restaurants. Gourmet-to-go shops. Six hotels.
Overall, "Parisian Chic" is like those memos you get from well-traveled friends. Everything you need to know. And not one thing extra.
I'll be pushing this book on Paris-bound friends --- and women in danger of dressing too young, or too trendy, or just too too --- for years.
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Despite having read the review by Eibhinn (Canada), I made the mistake of buying this book. It is styled to look like a scrapbook of notes and photographs clipped from newspapers. Fine, except that the photographs are not just dark, they truly look like tiny photographs clipped from non-glossy magazines or newspapers and left for a decade or two. The quality is completely unacceptable. For a book about style, I'd expect the photographs to be larger, clear and well-lit, but they are not.
The style advice is either obvious or silly, and the author contradicts herself so many times I was surprised no one caught this in the editing process.
But perhaps the most important point to note, if you are thinking of buying this book, is that it is not actually a book about Parisian style (or even a quarter of a book about Parisian style) at all! It is a book of current fashion ideas (such as: mix high and low, designer lamp with thrift store furniture, etc). What I mean is that if you are looking for a book about how to achieve the chic elegance that we in the English-speaking world think of as Parisian (or perhaps French) style, this is not the book for you. It doesn't give any information about that at all. It really doesn't! I thought there might be a few pages about that, but no. If you are looking for a book that lists a few ideas current in the fashion world more generally, well, then there are better books out there that do that, or just start looking at fashion blogs. They give vastly more information, have stunning photographs in many cases, and cost nothing.
46 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Parisian style radiates an air of self-assuredness, that indefinable je ne sais quoi that initially seems so elusive, and yet at the same time almost appears simple, uncontrived, perhaps effortless.
Inès de la Fressange, the premiere model for Chanel in the 80s and currently the brand ambassador for Roger Vivier, has graciously decided to share these coveted Parisian secrets of style in her new book Parisian Style: A Style Guide which is officially available Tuesday, April 5th.
I must confess, I was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to take in her tips, ideas and expertise for more than just a few months, and upon the delivery of my copy, it barely left my side until I was finished.
First of all, while the cover alone is captivating and impossible to miss with it's scarlet red jacket and gilded font, the contents are just as creatively and vivaciously presented. With the feel of a large Moleskine journal, ribbon bookmark and all, additionally all of the photography of shops, products and destinations are by Inès, as are the drawings and hand-written lists. The the layout as well is playful, easy to read and unpretentious unlike what one might expect due to the topic at hand.
Inès has clearly taken special care to create guide for all of us who are short on time and thus sometimes imagination, being sure to help us create a style that appears effortless, yet is full of great thought.
The Magnificent Seven are what is defined as the brilliant basics that are key to creating Parisian style in any scenario. Modeled by Inès' daughter Nine, each of these items are demonstrated as part of a complete outfit in order to better exhibit how to incorporate exactly what she is suggesting must be in our closet:
The Magnificent Seven:
1. A Man's Blazer
2. The Trench
3. The Navy (cashmere) Sweater
4. The Tank
5. The Little Black Dress
6. The Perfect Jeans
7. The Leather Jacket
While this may be where many style books cease in their guidance, Inès has only just begun. For each of the Magnificent Seven she shares more ideas on how to meld it into anyone's wardrobe, a list of fashion faux pas, a lux celebrity style idea and a hall of fame reference which in the case of the navy sweater was Eric Bompard's cashmere company. She is spilling the beans so to speak, sharing the secrets and letting us all in on where one can acquire the look of Parisian style.
And be sure, after sharing her tips on fashion, she continues on to accessories, the five essential bags, shoes, beauty, entertaining, and home decor.
Having lived in Paris for most of her life (although not born there, further proof that one does not need to be a born and bred Parisian to possess such style), she also takes her readers through her recommended shops, boutiques, hotels, restaurants, spas, and hot spots that would take more than a few travel guides to figure out when attempting to plan their next trip to the City of Light.
It is without reservation that I highly recommend Parisian Chic: A Style Guide as an informative, delightful and forever resourceful book that I am sure to pack for my next trip to Paris and have already begun to tweak my wardrobe accordingly - navy cashmere sweater, white jeans and ballet flats - my new go-to chic outfit. Thank you Inès!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2012
This is goop in Paris. At least with goop and Gwyneth Paltrow you know the site is a form of new media advertising and it's free.
This book should be a free blog too. It doesn't give very much information, and when it does it's only in bullet points and it feels like a big advertisement.
There are some great little pieces of advice that deal with style, but far, far, too little to justify publication as a book. The word count on the advice dispensed on style is depressingly low and therefore there's not much to take away from this book aside from I de la F's favourite face cream and the fact that she really loves white jeans.
The vast majority of the book's pages are dedicated to describing stores. This seems hypocritical when another part of the book mentions that Parisian women are not slaves to the latest trends. More importantly it's not what this book professed to be about.
Only consider this book if you live in Paris (in which case you probably already know where to shop) or are travelling there soon and plan to shop a lot while you are there. It does not have very much to offer women outside of that city. The book's title is totally misleading. It is a shopping guide with little style tips interspersed, not the reverse. It should be entitled "Shopping in Paris: A Guide to My favourite Stores by Ines de la Fressange". So don't buy it unless that is what you are looking for. Even then, why pay for what you can get for free? Just type "where to shop in Paris" in a google search you'll learn more than what is in this book and use the money you saved to buy yourself something nice to wear.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Okay, so I'm not 5'11" and 125 pounds as Ines is reported to be, and hipless, per the NY Times, indeed, far from it--well, I am 5'10," but otherwise what I have in common w/ Ines, and she does seem to want you to call her that, is that I am in my early 50s, struggling to find an age-appropriate image and wardrobe to match. Now, I'm not going to wear a lot of the combinations she suggests--I don't wear boots, for one thing, and Converse sneakers are supremely uncomfortable to me, as well as looking like boats on my extra large feet, but her heuristics--the rules of thumb--can you walk gracefully in these shoes? simple, well-cut items in navy, black and white with touches of interest added with accessories, say...these things I can apply--I find myself sorting through my things and asking myself if Ines would wear it if she were on my budget--she does recommend lots of low-end items, FWIW.
She is certainly the un-Charla Krupp--she comes out strongly against "sparkly" pink lipstick--indeed against all pink lipsticks--though it is confusing whether she's about only clear lip balm or also red, just as she eschews tanks colored in other than black, white or gray, yet she says she does pop on a fuchsia blouse just to keep 'em guessing.... She doesn't care if something makes her look fat (because that would be impossible) or old, except to the extent that she does drop a few clues about how not to look TOO much of that certain age---for one thing, avoid matchy-matchy.
I, for one, would much rather look like Ines than Charla. It may have to do with my natural coloring and style inclinations--I was a dark brunette before I went gray, and I refuse to dye my hair or wear shimmery pink lip gloss.
I'm not likely to be in Paris any time soon, so the large section of the book with 411 on where to shop, eat and stay is lost on me, but the beginning sections on what to wear where and how, are priceless, as well as quite entertaining.
43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2011
Oh yes, you need a trench coat. And the perfect jeans, and a cashmere sweater. Seriously, didn't we all know this YEARS ago? The oldie book French Chic (from the 80's) listed almost exactly the same "wardrobe essentials" and had a lot more whimsical photographs of all different kinds of women. Not that the lovely Nine isn't attractive, but the photographs felt like her mother took them with a cell phone and decided to save money and use them instead of getting a real photographer to take some real pictures.
Only saving grace - if you're going to Paris and don't have a CLUE what you're doing, there might be some helpful addresses here. But if you read even one decent blog about Paris, you're going to know about Colette, APC etc. Really not worth the money, sorry.
40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I've admired Mlle. de la Fressange's style but this book does not contain any advice that has not already been covered in greater detail in fashion magazine articles or blog posts on French style. There are a lot of pages, but not a lot of substance. The whole book seemed slapped together in a hurry, with at times questionable edicts on what to/not to wear [she doesn't think men prefer to see women wearing heels?] and unsatisfying small poor quality pictures of various shop interiors. Perhaps it would be more useful to those who plan to visit Paris to shop; it seemed more like a travel guide. The most inspiring part is the photos of Mlle. de la Fressange's daughter, Nine, but I had already seen them on blogs. I was expecting many photos of Ines herself but that is not the case. I do like the format, as another reviewer stated it is similar to a Moleskine notebook with a ribbon bookmark, but unfortunately after going through it once this is not a book I will be referring to again.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I can't believe that I paid $19.77 for this chic little paperback. The pages and the cover are thick and heavy - very chic. However, the content of this book reminds me of frivolous magazine articles. "A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange" means just that. It is her style and how she likes to live and where she likes to shop. There's not much information here unless you know who she is and you want to parrot her style. It definitely is not a "Style Guide" that one might expect from the title. I wonder if I can return it?