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7 steps to French chic: Tips from Paris Fashion Week

HANNAH DUKE - 7 steps to French chic -  tips from PFW - My French Life - Ma Vie Française -

With Paris Fashion Week all done and dusted, the crowds of stylish French women, bloggers and famous-for-being-famous types dispersed. But not without a few lessons learned.

So, taking a cue from the pros, we present our 7 top tips for getting that certain je ne sais quoi that only les françaises know how to achieve. Take note, expats and Parisian hopefuls!

1. Truly chic françaises don’t need to flash it around.

If there was one show everyone was talking about, it was a surprisingly minimalist Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton. Even the famed flamboyant kilt-wearer was looking sleek in black.


His latest ready-to-wear collection followed suit (pardon the pun). A collaboration with artist Daniel Buran (the guy who created those striped columns at the Palais Royal) saw bold geometric prints, pop colours and 60s silhouettes float down the escalators of the Louvre.¹

But the biggest shock: the famed monogram ‘LV’ was completely absent from the collection.


So ladies, the lesson here is not to flash your cash around – as French women know so well. Understatement, minimalism and elegance are the only words in their fashion vocabularies.

2. Environmentalism is so passé en France


That’s right – chop down trees, turn some animals into coats and voilà! You have a fashion show fit for the A-list.


The set at the Miu Miu show may have used the wood supplies of a small European country: there was a wooden red carpet, wooden invitations, wooden seats, a wooden catwalk… but it was nothing short of stunning.


Smokey jazz sounds welcomed streams of 50s femmes fatales in tie-dye fur, dark denim and all sexy silhouettes.²


Ironically, the collection was showcased at Paris’ Grand Environmental Council…

3. Keep it classic, darling

Elie Saab knows the value of a classic, sexy frock. And so should you.


His latest collection was a repeat of the usual Saab sartorial fare: figure-hugging lace, dreamy hues, a dash of sparkle and a generous helping of sex-appeal.

4. Make the impractical, practical

“Enfin! At last!” I hear you cry. “A practical and chic way to carry around my hula hoop!”


It seems you and Karl Largerfeld are on the same page here. There are several lessons to learn: apparently bigger is indeed better, hula hoops are back, and impracticality always wins out.

Watch Karl attempt to explain the appeal of the hula hoop bag:

Tip: don’t take this one on the metro.

5. Be Queen Bee.

Or perhaps Queen beekeeper. Following on from the autumn/winter 2012/13 trend of veils and face-obscuring headgear, Sarah Burton opted for one style of hat that hasn’t yet been tried: the beekeeper helmet.


One thing’s sure, at least these models won’t have a bee in their bonnet…

6. Keep the romance alive.


The French know romance. And Valentino is what they wear to make the mood just right. Remember those three little words once more: understated, minimalist and elegant.


A glass of champagne and a Valentino gown never go astray when you want to make the night go to plan.

7. Change your face, change your name.

A little reinvention never goes astray. This was certainly not what the fashion scene was thinking when the house-formerly-known-as Yves Saint Laurent announced they were dropping their prénom.


Now simply ‘Saint Laurent’, with fashion heavyweight Hedi Slimane at the helm, the collection was far removed from what most associate with the house. I’m not sure what the original M. Saint Laurent himself would have thought about suede safari dresses…


But I must say, I loved Slimane’s sleek nonchalance. Always made easier with a large, mysterious hat. French fashionista hopefuls, take note.

Which look from Paris Fashion week will you be working next season?

1. It’s a wrap: Paris Fashion Week ends, by Thomas Addison on, 04/10/12
2. Runway Review: SPRING 2013 READY-TO-WEAR, Miu Miu, by Jo-Ann Furniss on, 03/10/12
Image Credits:
1. Tommy Ton Shoots the Street-Style at the Spring 2013 shows, Tommy Ton on
2 – 4, 8. It’s a wrap: Paris Fashion Week Ends, Getty & AFP on
5 – 7. Miu Miu SS13, on Show Studio
9. Karl Lagerfeld explains Chanel’s hula hoop bag, on Telegraph Fashion
10. Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 12/13, on Telegraph Fashion
11 & 12. Valentino Spring 2013 Ready-to-wear, Yannis Vlamos on
13. Saint Laurent 2013 Ready-to-wear, Monica Feudi on
14. The new Saint Laurent Paris, by @vogueaustralia (Instagram) on Show Studio


Join the conversation


  1. Emmanuelle Tremolet
    10 years ago

    Fantastic article written by Hannah!

    My favorite fashion show has been Saint Laurent. I am looking for a hat now!

    Pierre Bergé has commented with emotion the Hedi Slimane’s fashion show for Saint Laurent:

    “L’héritage est enfin sauvé, c’est merveilleux. Hedi Slimane sait jouer avec les codes et l’ADN Saint Laurent, sans le copier”

    Bravo Hedi Slimane and bravo Hannah!

  2. Sarah Taylor
    10 years ago

    Great article, Hannah! I love the Valentino dresses – “understated, minimalist and elegant” at their finest.
    It is also good to discover how to carry my hoola hoop around with style… Thanks, Chanel, for this very practical tip!

  3. Emmanuelle Tremolet
    10 years ago

    For the next event Ma Vie Francaise in Paris, we can imagine or picture Sarah dressed in Valentino, Emmanuelle in Saint Laurent and you girls?

  4. Hannah Duke
    10 years ago

    Thanks Emma & Sarah!!

    I love those hats too Emma – definitely going to be wearing them more often 😉

    And Sarah, is this what Stefan is getting for your next birthday? Valentino dress? Or perhaps the Chanel bag. Tough choice.

    And as for me, I might go for Chloé or Miu Miu!!

  5. Sarah Taylor
    10 years ago

    Emma, I think that’s a fantastic idea – Valentino for the evening, maybe a bit of Chanel for the daytime…?
    Hannah, yes Stéphen can defintiely buy me one of the above for my next birthday. But let’s not forget Christmas! Maybe the Valentino dress at Christmas, the Chanel bag for my birthday? I think that sounds fair. 😉

  6. Ann Nasser
    10 years ago

    Looooved Valentino, always a hit with me. As for Yves Saint Laurent (always be YSL for me no matter what), I’m really not a huge fan of the whole rebranding scheme. The new logo looks very mundane 🙁

  7. Hannah Duke
    10 years ago

    Yeah it’s so weird Ann! One of the most famous brands… I was a bit shocked when they announced it. But I have to admit, besides the suede maxi dresses, I quite liked the collection!

    And Sarah – wasn’t Stéphen also buying you a Valentino (or Elie Saab – I forget?) haute couture dress? He’s going to need to start saving…

  8. Kah Kit Yoong
    10 years ago

    Wonderful report.