French Style – Tales From the Left Bank
I hope you enjoyed part one of my feature on French style (click here if you missed it!) Well this week it’s part DEUX and it’s all about that Rive Gauche style – synonymous with bohemian philosophers and artists of the early 20th century who used to frequent this part of Paris. This genre was also appropriated by the mighty Yves Saint Laurent who channelled the beatnik style for his 1960 collection for Dior. Six years later, he opened his own ‘Rive Gauche’ boutique on the Left Bank and democratized fashion forever – a true revolutionary. I had a cork pin board (remember them?) furiously demonstrating my Left Bank nous to anyone who entered my bedroom as a teenager – obsessed as I was with living this look. It featured quotes in French from Simone De Beauvoir dressed in a black polo neck, black and white pictures of 60s beatniks smoking in cafes and oh Jim Morrison of The Doors (!) dressed you guessed it, in black.
Which brings me to my point. It’s a style that’s forever ‘in style’ because of its links to youth culture and a kind of louche, carefree way of living. Plus it’s easy to do and do correctly due to its relative simplicity. Certain Parisians epitomise this look and to perfection with black leather biker jackets, stacked boots, jeans and simple knits or a white shirt. Leopard print is a stalwart, especially in accessories, as is a good black stiletto. I think the Parisian jeans and blazer uniform is universal and looks good at any age – Caroline de Maigret being the perfect poster girl for this style. Good labels for this French style Parisian uniform include Soft Grey at La Redoute at the very affordable end of the spectrum. Maje and Sandro mid to upper end and Iro, Vanessa Bruno and Isabel Marant Etoile at the more expensive price point. Dresses come short or at least with some leg showing and add to this a mannish coat on top, a small bag and some black eyeliner and ‘je ne sais quois’ becomes a reality. Pouting is optional.
I hope you like my interpretation below. I’m not sure you could call it bohemian per se, but as long as it’s a little French then… I’m good. Aside from the leopard print, the patterns are fairly retro here in this post. I guess for me, Rive Gauche will always be associated with the 1970s YSL perfume with its striped black, blue and silver bottle and is reminiscent of that kind of vintage styling. The smell of it was another matter and I was never really a fan of the actual scent itself, but I wore it anyway during my ‘poetic’ phase, just to show I was in ‘the know’. Pretentious? Moi? Hmmm. xx
Leopard print dress | H&M (sold out but similar here ) Earrings, Necklace & Shoes | As before
I do love the knitted dress from Zara. It’s such fun with its mandarin style collar and obvious geometric print – it feels a bit different and looks more expensive than it was. It is SHORT, so is not for the faint hearted or easily chilled. It looks just as nice with slim black 7/8 trousers underneath – giving it even more of a 60s styling and also strong Bond girl connotations. All positive things in my opinion.
The little pink leopard print dress is from H&M in the sale and is just so EASY to wear. It’s soft against the skin (viscose) and is very comfortable and a little girlish. Looks good with black opaque tights underneath.
French Fancy (Geometry & Jumper)
Skirt | As before Jumper | Bella Freud Earring & Shoes | As before
Ah the statement Bella Freud ‘1970’ jumper. Ubiquitous on Instagram since oh I dunno… FOREVER. Still, I wanted one, saved up for it a few years back when I worked almost full time and it’s still as fresh as a daisy drawing comments wherever I roam in 2018. It was cheaper back then (sounds like the start to an Ed Sheeran song) but because of it’s ubiquity, it HAS become much pricier now. Still there are plenty of alternatives to it around. Only last week I saw a Chinti & Parker cashmere jumper in TK Maxx for under £50. Hush UK also do a great line in French slogan jumpers and tees too.
Et VOILA! I hope you enjoyed this post lovely people. Tune in next time, when I will be reviewing The Mondrian Hotel in London’s Bankside, as well as a fab interview with successful makeup artist for the stage and screen – Rebecca Kempton.
A bientot! XXX
Many thanks to Katie Knight-Adams for the photos and makup artist Becky Kempton on this shoot