By Janet Kelly
AS WE do on the fourth of July, the French party on the fourteenth—to celebrate the end of the tyranny of the ancien regime.
We’re happy to join the fun of Bastille Day festivities tomorrow, but our fascination with les Français—particularly les Françaises—goes way beyond that.
Can there be any better testament than the constant stream of books (e.g., Ageless Beauty the French Way, French Women Don’t Get Fat, How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are, and three fashion-focused guides by Isabelle de la Fressange: Parisian Chic, Parisian Chic Encore and Parisian Chic Look Book) along with endless blog posts explaining how and what to eat, not get fat, shop, entertain, apply makeup, decorate, even flirt like a French woman?
We’ll never be as impossibly stylish as, say Brigitte Macron, de la Fressange or Camille Cottin, but we can buy similar beauty products, eat perfect pastries, sip Pastis or Lillet and shop the stores the French admire. See our suggestions below.
LEFT: Ladurée pastry shops in Paris are tiny jewel boxes filled with the most scrumptious bites of pastry your mouth could imagine. The story of the cafe’s macaron begins in the middle of the 19th century with Pierre Desfontaines, who first thought of taking two macaron shells and joining them with a ganache filling. The recipe hasn’t changed since. You can purchase an assortment of 12 traditional and seasonal macarons, presented in an elegant pink gift box of Ladurée macarons for $45.50. To sit down in a Ladurée cafe, you don’t have to travel to Paris. There are three locations in New York City, three in and around the Los Angeles, two in Miami and one in D.C. Alternatively, hunt down your own home-grown favorite.
RIGHT: Tired of Aperol spritzers? According to a recent article in the New York Times, Pastis—an anise-flavored popular in the south of France— is a perfect aperitif for the hot, lazy days of summer. Pastis requires only two ingredients: the liqueur and cold water, which, when mixed, turns into a pearly-colored liquid, best imbibed during a competitive game of pétanque. A bottle of Ricard Pastis sells for around $35.
FAR LEFT: Founded by a nurse in Paris during WWII who concocted a plant-based balm to treat victims suffering from burns to the eyes. One of the side effects was that the formula stimulated eyelash and eyebrow growth. Since 1948, the brand has expanded into other eye care products, including this cornflower water-based non-greasy makeup remover and treatment that eliminates all traces of eyeliner, mascara around the eyes. Tired of waking up most mornings with black stuff under my eyes, I’m game to try it.
NEAR LEFT: I remember when you could only buy La Roche-Posay’s sunscreen in Europe. That’s of course no longer the case. The brand has a slew of products in its skincare line that I have yet to sample, but the one I have —Lipikar Balm AP+ Moisturizer for Dry Skin —($19.99) offers relief for dry to very dry skin (that describes mine exactly). It soothes and hydrates both face and body, and it’s not at all greasy, which makes it comfortable to use on dry hands as well.
NEAR RIGHT: L’Occitane en Provence’s Dry Skin Hand Cream ($29, Sephora) also has its cheering section for its soothing, smoothing relief of rough, dry hands. It’s made of 20 percent shea butter, blended with coconut oil, almond extracts and honey.
FAR RIGHT: Seven botanical oils, including argan, macadamia, camellia and sweet almond, are active ingredients in the Huile Prodigieuse Multi Purpose Dry Oil (100ml, $42) from Nuxe. The triple-duty oil—for face, body and hair—is scented with notes of orange blossom, magnolia and vanilla.
LEFT: In addition to its four boutiques in its home base of Paris, Sézane has shops in Aix en Provence, Lille, London and New York City. The mission of founder Morgane Sézalory is to “create high-quality, well-cut pieces that can be worn forever.” An example is the brand’s signature mohair and baby alpaca Gaspard cardigan ($120), embellished with mother-of-pearl buttons that can be worn front or back. Buy now for fall.
CENTER: Best known for her “poor boy” sweater—a ribbed pullover with high armholes—Sonia Rykiel reimagined the idea of knitwear in fashion. Although the designer died in 2016, the brand rebooted this past February with snug knit tops and modern takes on classic Rykiel stripes. This cotton sweater with multicolor stripes is reduced 50 percent to $200.
RIGHT: While living in London, Gaelle Drevet got the chance to closely observe French streetwear before opening the Frankie Shop in 2014 with locations in London and Paris. Marketed as accessible, “French girl chic” apparel, the boutiques sell clothing from trending designers like Rachel Comey and Ganni. We love these mini Lunet Crochet Net Bags ($42 each) in tangerine, turquoise, lime green, dandelion, white, cobalt and lilac. Except for the cobalt, they’re all currently sold out.
LEFT: It’s the blue in the French flag, the blue of an Endless Summer hydrangea, the blue of Serena & Lily’s linen pajamas. According to PPG Paints, it’s a midtone, bright, blueberry blue with a wisteria undertone. RIGHT: Lavender is to the South of France like cherry blossoms are to D.C. And, it’s in full bloom in my garden in Pittsburgh—at least it was until the rains pummeled the plants and led me to prune them as our garden guru Stephanie showed me how. Lavender smells divine whether you walk by it and inhale or cut the flowers and make cute little sachets to fill drawers and such. The fragrance from the oils of the lavender plant is believed to help reduce stress, anxiety and possibly even mild pain.
Wait, you haven’t watched Netflix’s Call My Agent!? Solve that problem tout de suite by bingeing it—all four seasons are still available of this comedy-drama about a French talent agency’s amusing machinations to keep their jobs and make their clients happy. Top agent and quintessential Parisienne Andréa Martel wears a wardrobe of sleek but timeless suit jackets, turtlenecks and ankle boots, all of which she makes look feminine and classy. For anyone who has watched Call My Agent and wants more of Andréa/Camille, she is currently in Stillwater, a film starring Matt Damon and Abigail Breslin. It premiered at Cannes last week and is due in theaters July 30.
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