By Abby Rodgers


Michelle Schwartzbauer

When I heard that Karl Lagerfeld was promoting his newly minted KARL line in the Parisian neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, I knew that I had to catch a glimpse of the genius behind Chanel. After all, it was right down the street and rain or shine I was determined to see the enigmatic designer. I cloaked myself in the chicest possible outfit I could muster from my cramped armoire and set out on a mission. Sure enough it rained, but I didn’t care, for there he was, the legend, outfitted in his signature glasses, hair slicked back in a tight ponytail, equipped with a bevy of lithe Amazonian women, all sporting monochrome outfits and jutting cheekbones. The impromptu fashion event showcased Lagerfeld’s efforts to create a more street-friendly and modern line. This left me thinking: with veterans such as Lagerfeld making the move into the street-wear market, where is fashion headed in Paris and what influence does the newest generation have?

I’ve experienced a taste of the fashion world in New York and Chicago, but Paris is a whole new realm. I attended two Teen Vogue seminars in NYC and was fortunate enough to meet the designers Derek Lam and Thakoon Panchingul. I also heard speeches from Simon Doonan, editor at large of Teen Vogue and Barneys creative director. Hearing such successful and inspirational people gave me an appreciation for the expression and freedom of style. As an American in Paris, style inspiration is everywhere; I am always observing fashions that trickle down from the runway and onto the streets. I love seeing how a girl can make a Balenciaga jacket or Hermès bag their own. In Paris there seems to be a mix of luxury juxtaposed with urban style. Just look at Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy, the Vuitton/Marc Jacobs collaboration, or Nicola Formicetti (Lady GaGa’s stylist) for Mugler. Paris also has a slew of great contemporary lines; some of my favorites are Maje, Sandro, and The Kooples.

As a young person entering the restricted world of fashion, it can seem dauntingly pretentious, but remind myself that fashion is always looking for that something new, I try not to be intimidated. Like New York, thousands of hopefuls come every year trying to break into the business. Two of my best friends here are pursuing careers in fashion. I have forged some of my most memorable experiences in Paris with them. On one occasion I was able to accompany my friend Marina Jasmine Berwein (an up-and-coming make-up artist), as she worked an event during Paris fashion week in 2011 at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild. She has worked with several new designers and labels based in Paris as well as in her native Athens, Greece. She was even asked to work with the shoe extraordinaire Christian Louboutin but had unfortunately returned to Greece to sign with an agency. I also attended a fashion show for Dentelle et Macarons where Marina did make-up. Dentelle et Macarons can be purchased through Carnet de Mode which is a site for new designers to sell their work. It was at this fashion show that I also met my friend Ophélie Reijl, a hairstylist and model (Facebook). Ophélie has worked for the French television network TF1 and Dentelle et Macarons, and sometimes, she even styles my hair! Both have expressed the difficulties of entering the industry in Paris and the importance of networking and self-promotion. Seeing these women work is truly an inspiration and is a testament to their dedication and perseverance.

So remember, entering the fashion world of Paris may seem scary at first, but drive, talent and connection can get you that dream job for Vogue or maybe even Lagerfeld!

Popular spots:

L’ARC by the Arc de Triomphe hosts several after-parties and events: it has no entrance fee but is extremely exclusive.

The Queenie cocktail bar and dining.

For those who are not serial night owls, Model Mayhem and Craigslist can provide several freelance opportunities.

Abby Rodgers was born in South Korea, raised in Rochester, New York and is currently living in Paris, France. She is a self-proclaimed Francophile and dessert connoisseur. Abby is currently a student of International Relations at Schiller International University in Paris. Recently, Abby began working at Art Galleries Europe/London and Paris. Abby currently lives in the bustling 6éme arrondissement near the famed Café Flore and Luxembourg Gardens, providing the ideal landscape for creativity.

You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, Fashion crashing: Paris Haute-Couture, Barbara Redmond shares her experience crashing Maxime Simoëns haute-couture catwalk show during Paris Fashion Week.

Ballet Flats in Paris: And God Made Repetto, by Barbara Redmond who writes about the ballet flat Brigitte Bardot, a classically trained ballerina, asked Rose Repetto to fashion for her which made Bardot and Repetto and overnight success. (French)

Beauty Confessions from a Globe-trotting Parisienne. Parisienne Bénédicte Mahé shares a French woman’s approach to beauty and makeup; and how the relationship Americans have with beauty is very different from that of the French. Including her list of Beauty Resources in Paris and a vocabulary of French to English translations. (French)

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, Rule of FiveOn extended stays in Paris, I’ve seen trends take hold. Still, 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.

How to spend your money even if you do not need to: the French biannual sales, by French woman Bénédicte Mahé who writes about the exquisite uniqueness of French sales that last for weeks each year and offer incredible sales.  These sales take place over five weeks during the late summer and for two weeks during the winter, and thus demands from shoppers: when to buy and what to wait for during sale season?

Text copyright ©2012 Abby Rodgers. All rights reserved.
Illustrations copyright ©Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.