By Lisa Rounds

Woman in Paris by Barbara Redmond

Barbara Redmond

It was 1998, and I was about to finish a one-year contract with a publishing company in Paris. I was 25 years old and living a dream from which I was not quite ready to wake up. I had six months left on my work visa, and a friend of a friend mentioned an unpaid internship at Hearst Magazines. The office served primarily as a rest stop for the U.S. editors of Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan when they swooped into town twice a year for the runway shows. In my short time at 42, rue Montaigne (just above the Chanel boutique), I learned the proper French way to address an invitation, taxied accessories to photo shoots, and when the parties were over and it was time for the editors to go back to New York, I FedExed the designer purchases that did not fit in their suitcases. If only there had been blogs in those days, what fun I would have had telling the stories that have since faded with time. But there are some I will never forget…

There was chatter in the office one day about an up-and-coming actress who was starring in a movie about Queen Elizabeth. She was going to be photographed by Karl Lagerfeld for the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. Critiquing the young actress’s looks, my colleagues determined that she was not beautiful in a conventional sort of way, but interesting enough. At the time I did not know who Karl Lagerfeld was, let alone Cate Blanchett (I have since become a huge fan). Later that week I was asked to hand-deliver a box of antique jewelry to an undisclosed location, and it turned out to be the Harper’s cover shoot.

My most memorable experience of all, however, was an afternoon spent searching for the “perfect Moroccan slipper” (in red, of course) for a Cosmo photo shoot. A young assistant editor was given the task of bringing back several options for her boss to choose from—surely a test. It was her first time in Paris, and because I lived not too far from the North African neighborhood of Barbès, I volunteered to be her guide. We set out in a chauffeured black Mercedes, and as we approached the 18th arrondissement—first Pigalle, then under the elevated Métro Line-2, past the beloved pink checkered Tati sign—the crowds became too thick, the hilly streets too narrow for our ubiquitous sedan. I asked the driver to let us off so we could start our mission, and he reassured the nervous assistant that he would park nearby and wait for us.

We searched every single shop along the rue de la Goutte d’or and found all kinds of things, from Indian-style jutti flats to white-and-gold beaded slippers, but nothing red! As I grew more and more determined to succeed, my shopping partner grew more and more apprehensive about the boisterous crowds. She huffed about the lengths to which she went for her job, the risks she was asked to take in the name of fashion! As I was about to pull her back into one of the first shops we’d visited, we saw our chauffeur waving furiously at us from the corner. Three hubcaps were gone, and a young man was prying off the fourth. This was the last straw, said the assistant. She would not be subjected to this kind of danger. We got in the car and inched our way out of the zone, through the masses.

My unforgettable internship came to an end later that month, and I always wondered if the young editor’s job did too.

Lisa RoundsLisa Rounds lived in Paris from 1997-1999. Originally from Minnesota, she spent 10 years in New York working in magazine and book publishing, including at the Bureau du Livre Français as a literary agent representing French authors.

She met her husband there, and the couple eventually moved to Buenos Aires until 2008. They now live in Minneapolis, Minnesota with their two sons, Sebastian, 8, and Lucas, 5.

You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, Ballet Flats in Paris: And God made Repetto, by Barbara Redmond who shares what she got from a pair of flats purchased in a ballet store in Paris; a feline, natural style from the toes up, a simple pair of shoes that transformed her whole look. Including the vimeos “Pas de Deux Coda,” by Opening Ceremony and “Repetto,” by Repetto, Paris. (French)

Diving into Paris Fashion: From famous to fresh, by Parisian Abby Rodgers, who asks the question, “…with veterans such as Lagerfeld making the move to the street-wear market, where is fashion headed in Paris and what influence does the newest generation have?” Included are fashion brands and stores that are favorites of Abby and her friends. 

l’Américaine, by Parisian Eva Izsak-Niimura who writes about the myth of the unsophisticated and pathetically naïve American where book after book and article after article there is the lament of the hopeless quest of the American woman to resemble her French counterpart. 

French women do get wrinkles, by Parisian Eva Izsak-Niimura who writes about the super French myth of the coquettish French nymph–her “je ne sais quoi”–in her ballerina shoes, hair effortlessly tied in a messy chignon blowing in the wind, large sunglasses over her naked, no make-up, nevertheless beautiful eyes, and she then continues to define how we are all measured by it.

Fashion trends from the street and the Rule of Five, by Barbara Redmond who on extended stays in Paris has seen fashion trends take hold. Still, she notices, the Parisienne never tries to fit in. Daring, carrying herself confidently, with her own inbred style, she moves quickly through the city, hardly disturbing its surface. Barbara writes about her “Rule of Five” game for spotting fashion trends. 

Fashion Crashing: Paris haute-couture, by Barbara Redmond who crashed Maxime Simoëns’ haute-couture catwalk show during Paris Fashion Week with patience and persistence, but no invitation. The models, the show, the crème de la crème audience, and the style.

Text copyright ©2012 Lisa Rounds. All rights reserved.
Illustration copyright ©2012 Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.