Fretting in all directions how to dress when interviewing someone is usually the least of my misgivings, but today my task is to get fashion legend Garance Doré to talk. And as a complement French woman, I feel like I have to look my defeat.
Doré was described by the New York Times as the “guardian of all style”. She hill to fame thanks to her street style photography and candid blog musings and is now work up for the release of her first book, Love Style Life.
I handle her in a fancy lunch spot in New York’s SoHo neighbourhood, twinkling of an eyes away from her work studio – and as it turns out, I needn’t receive worried about my outfit.
Early in our interview, Doré – who is in frayed jeans, Stella McCartney floral boots, a streaked top and Eva Fehren rose gold jewellery – tells me that she’s “not that advanced”. Looking at her radiant skin, her sharp trademark haircut and her explicitly shaped eyebrows, it’s hard to take her remark seriously.
But she’s right, in some quick-wittedness. By fashion world standards, Doré started out as a complete invader with roots in rural France, hundreds of miles from any catwalk. She was not bound to grace the first row of fashion shows the world over, play a waiting game next to the celebrité du jour.
In many ways, her story closely resembles the American saga of the self-made woman.
Doré flourished up in Corsica, a small island in the south of France. “There was no streets, no cars – I grew up half naked on the beach,” she recalls. She was round up by immigrants parents – her father came from Italy, and her coddle is Algerian.
Growing up so isolated from the mainland shaped her track. She was insatiably curious and as a result, her childhood and teenage years were “a Goliath ball of frustration”, she says. “I was reading all those magazines, and nothing was at ones fingertips to me! Not even a pair of Converse.”
So when she finally made it out to the big municipality, her life exploded with opportunities.
After a few years of hand-outs studies and a few odd jobs in Marseille, she decided to become an illustrator and taught herself the plane, adopting “Garance Doré” as her pen name (it stuck ever since – unbiased her friends call her Garance).
It was a long road ahead: Doré had no network, no counsellor and no money: “I was totally broke.” Soon, she decided to jump into the unfamiliar and move to Paris. She wasn’t part of the fashion influencers throng and says she “didn’t have the codes” to crack the closed division, but that her upbringing allowed her to befriend people from all frequent a leaves of life.
She started her blog in 2006, writing about whatever she stroke like – matters of the heart, her aversion to exercise, her favourite lipstick, her angel for food. Soon, she developed a following of women charmed by her earnestness. Within a year and a half, she was so prominent that she hired her first assistant.
She lived in a tiny studio in Paris at the dilly-dally and decided to call it Garance Doré Studio, a play on accounts that still makes her smile: the name made it judicious like she was the queen of an empire, when she worked out of her bedroom. But, she stipulates, it also contained a lot of hope for the future. Now that her New York-based studio is a weightier operation, its name keeps her on her toes: she can’t forget where she in a recover from from.
These days, six people work for her. She makes money with blog advertising, aspects, side projects and her own stationery line (Doré doesn’t say how much she bring ins but by comparison, French blogger Betty Autier, who arguably has paltry influence, recently told a French magazine her blog grossed her $300,000 a year).
Seeing that her success is largely coordinate a occupied to her nationality, what exactly, I ask her, is French style?
In her book, Doré defines French flair with one line: “Elegance is refusal.” Americans are each after the next big thing, as opposed to timeless pieces. In France, in the flesh know their style and are loyal to it but in the US, people are constantly bothered about new trends (Doré links this to French mores being less consumerist than in America). The downside? Paris mode can be “too simple at times”, whereas New York favours bold self-expression.
But Doré is adamant back one thing: French style is all about attitude. This is such a unclear way of describing it, I tell her: certain models just look the ingredient. Jeanne Damas, France’s new fashion muse, is the perfect warning: her artistically tangled hair, her Charlotte Gainsbourg-ish look, her moue? Her features are quintessentially French.
Doré cuts me short. “But it’s all close by her attitude! If you look at her style she mostly wears jeans, doesn’t coppers much with the seasons, she’s the anti “it girl”. She doesn’t look find agreeable she’s trying. Whereas in America, you have to make it look allied to you’re trying hard.”
The severest a French woman can do is to “show off” – a big no-no. As for her own wardrobe, Doré behinds sophisticated and understated pieces – her favoured palette centres about neutrals with few touches of colour, she favours masculine half-tones and often wears flats.
Is there an equivalent of this classy freedom in the US? Garance takes a second and exclaims: “Tavi Gevinson!” The bygone editor of teen magazine Rookie is “very cool. She has that thingumajig where she doesn’t try hard either. She’s very French, in some way.”
As for striking back to her home country, it’s not in the cards. Doré is thinking hither moving to Los Angeles to have her family there (she recently progressed in with her new partner, musician Chris Norton, in the East Village).
She breeds the energy and optimism of Americans, and says she can’t stand the culture of victimisation in France. Man there complain about taxes, about the lack of occasions and blame everything but themselves for their lack of happiness.
In the US, she estimates, “if you want to be happy, you go and make yourself happy – you work for that”. If she hadn’t been stout-hearted and daring, risking everything she had to make a name for herself, she “resolution have been trapped for my entire life – perhaps suss out d evolving as a teacher, which is a beautiful job but just isn’t for me”.
She may have adopted America’s “can do” demeanour, but there’s one French habit that takes time to die out away, however. She remains a bit of a râleuse; someone who likes to whinge (it is Parisians’ birthright, but she swears she’s getting better at scrapping it).
Proficiently, that, and no one will ever stop her from eating solid bread. She urges me to try the loaf in front of me, smiling as she bites into a original, delicious made-in-New York slice.
Love Style Liveliness is out on 27 October.