Some will say that it is not necessary to be born in Paris to be a Parisienne (cf. Jane Birkin) when others express the fact that only “borned & raised” Parisian possess the mystery of inner elegance “à la française”. More than a way of dressing, being Parisienne is a state of mind. The Parisienne is embodied in many women such as: Josephine de Beauharnais, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Simone de Beauvoir, Catherine Deneuve, Audrey Tautou, Juliette Binoche etc. They are women of High Society, of any social classes and even medium class or anonymous “midinettes”… So how the Parisienne concept was born and why is it still a reality?
A Luxury heritage from a great history
Why do we call those women the Parisiennes instead of “les françaises”? The emergence of this designation is related to a particular moment of social changes in the capital. It is associated with a very specific context, places, events, specific social practices which found an echo in literary fiction and art in general.
If we refer to the article of Françoise Tétart-Vittu in the catalog of the exhibition “Impressionism and Fashion”, the concept of the Parisienne was born between 1863 and 1869 and was associated with a rabble side. Between the years 1874 and 1875, Renoir and Manet painted the Parisienne and rose it to the rank of supreme elegance. In the 1880s, the archetype of the Parisienne is well established.
The nineteenth century saw a wave of physiologies which declined the diversity of social types that novelists have emphasized with varieties of female characters. Paris exerts a special fascination to the world and time will gradually raise the type of the Parisienne to the status of myth.
In addition, the Parisienne takes its heritage in a long and ancient history: the ratio of Parisienne with fashion is built around the women of the court and couture workshops and finally in the cosmopolitanism of the “gay Paris” (permanent party, theater, dances, the city where we come slumming etc.).
Let’s take the example of Edouard Manet’s painting “La Parisienne“, which represents a woman dressed in black who takes a break and has a strong and assertive attitude, armed with her sunshade. The black uniform dramatizes the painting and highlights the actress pretty face.
Thanks to this painting, we understand that the Parisienne is seen as a living monument and could be likened to the most beautiful monuments of Paris and postcards, as it is a reference when it comes to Paris. Paris is the city that made and remade fashion. This bustling city produces a kind of more cultivated in the science of being and seems woman.
Another example is the Italian Countess of Castilglione who arrived at the court of Napoleon 3 and was immediately noticed by her extravagant outfits by their size (very marked cleavage).
Finally, since its inception, La Parisienne is a model of elegance and attitude. She is an admired woman who has lovers up to her beauty and Luxury in which she lives.
Luxury attitude of the nowadays Parisienne
How to describe the Parisienne? Impossible! However, some criteria are common to all these women.
The attitude of the Parisienne of today is to always be in her universe. She doesn’t pay attention to what others think about her, she is untouchable and always awaiting the moment when she will meet her friends. She is shared between parties, afterworks, museums, shopping and work. She adapts and follows new trends while maintaining her wardrobe. She always knows how to dress up for all events in which she is invited. She is mysterious, self-confident yet sensitive.
The look of the Parisian is studied without you know it. Clever, she spends hours in front of the mirror by mixing basics to give a chic and elegant side at her look. Besides, she gives you the impression that she is quickly and naturally beautiful. In her dressing room, you can find timeless top and jeans, daring dress and unique creator’s pieces. Do you want to know which is her favorite coffee shop ? The Café de Flore, of course. Her must-have? A little black dress and ballerinas. The women who represent the most the Parisienne in our days are Inès de la Fressange and Isabel Marant.
Then, why so much excitement around this myth? Simply because the Parisienne captivates us, with her intelligence and both its simplicity, as well as her sweetness and her special humor.
Here is the Parisienne Yves Saint Laurent definition:
The portrait of a woman incredibly free,
Free to think, free to act.
She appears evanescent,
At the dawning of the day
Body and soul…
She conveys the joy
Of living and loving in the moment.
This is why Paris adopts her.
She has the face of an angel,
The body of a woman who didn’t sleep last night,
A woman in an evening gown at the break of day,
Scandalous, some say?
Free, she says.
An Yves Saint Laurent woman,
A true Parisienne…
This woman disappears in a mysterious scent… »
Why the concept of the Parisienne sells well in Luxury
As long as we know, The Parisienne has always been a concept, a brand and even a slogan. Since she is a myth, the Parisienne fascinates women from all around the world. Women admire her edge, her freedom, her sophistication, her inner elegance, and her unparalleled class. She is the favorite subject of Luxury Brands in Couture & beauty.
The former advertising “La Parisienne” by Yves Saint Laurent unveils the famous Kate Moss in an evening dress in a daze, through Paris in a beautiful car, after spending a night with her lover. Even though, Kate Moss was not born in Paris but she almost perfectly embodies the Parisienne who falls in love with the city of lights. However, we can wonder what does it takes to become a true Parisienne?
Before that, Yves Saint Laurent had already paid tribute to our great city with the “Paris” fragrance. What could be more logical than to continue with the Parisienne one which is a monument in Paris?
Moreover, Nathalie Portman is the face of the Parisienne for Miss Dior Chérie. In the ad, she takes a bath in a fabulous suite with her very Parisian chic boyfriend.
More recently, the Chloé advertising depicts a pensive young, free and naturally beautiful woman. A man leaves a message on her cell phone while she is enjoying life in her apartment. This advertisement also perfectly embodies the Parisienne and targets a full of confidence and joyful younger clientele.
Then, why the concept of the Parisienne makes sell? Because it is a myth which is becoming a reality for many women. The style of the Parisienne is a dream and a goal, and this is the reason why Parisienne is eternal. What would be the Parisienne of tomorrow? Does the globalization of Luxury could change this eternal myth for a woman of another city? Will the myth continue?