French Fashion and Style: My French Life by Vicki Archer and Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange

When I started my French project, I did a search on Amazon to see what books are available which relate to France and the French lifestyle.  I bought several stories of English people giving up the rat race and buying a farmhouse in deepest France and I’m finding them very enjoyable.  These two books, however, I bought on something of an impulse.  They are not my usual preferred reading material: I’ve never been a big follower of fashion and ostentation leaves me cold.  I’ve never been impressed with “look at me, look at what I have” stories and the potential for this seemed quite high in this case.  However, if they do turn out to be like that, I thought, then I haven’t lost much.  I thought it would be worth gambling a few pounds sterling in the interests of research, so I ordered them.  After all, I want to know about all of France, and that includes the fashion and finery.

Vicki Archer’s book is the story of an Australian family who falls in love with a derelict farmhouse whilst on holiday in Provence.  They move to London in order to oversee renovations and then spend many weekends and most holidays at the property.  It is a lovely place, it’s been decorated beautifully and the photographs are stunning.  The other book is by Ines de la Fressange who is a model and designer of fashions and perfumes.  Her book is written as a series of tips regarding fashion and style for the home and the person.  It was first published in French and this is a direct translation into English.  After a lifetime in the industry, Ms de la Fressange has plenty to say!

Both books are coffee table types, lightweight and frivolous, but I enjoyed both of them.  Reading them is a bit like flicking through Vogue or many of the other glossy, high-end, monthly magazines.  They are both filled with many design ideas, for houses and for fashion.  When you consider how interested French people are (reported to be) in beauty, aesthetics and good taste, then these books do not seem to be too pompous.  In France, making things look beautiful is not considered to be going to too much trouble; it is considered to be completely normal.  Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by beautiful things, given the option?  Neither book is a challenging read, but I spent a pleasant couple of evenings admiring the exquisite photographs and dreaming about living those kinds of life.  Pure escapism.

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8 Responses to French Fashion and Style: My French Life by Vicki Archer and Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange

  1. Another good review Polly, and so glad you are enjoying all things French, your passion, your enthusiasm, as ever, shouts across the page!

  2. Ally Bean says:

    I, too, would not be inclined to purchase those sorts of books. But after reading your review of them I have to wonder if I’m missing something. I like to make things nice around the house + I do attempt to look somewhat pulled together when I go out, so I bet that I’d learn a lot from those books. Must keep an open mind in the future.

    • Ally, I got the idea to buy them from Gretchen Rubin – apparently she enjoys buying magazines she never would normally buy, in order to learn a little something different. Have to say, I really enjoyed the change.

  3. Zazzy says:

    Those books would probably not be anything I’d consider buying – but I’m willing to bet I’d happily browse through them. You’ve made them sound beautiful.

    • Zazzy, I really wouldn’t normally buy them myself – I must have been having a dizzy spell or something. I really did enjoy them though, even though most of what they contain is out of my reach!

  4. Mummy Plum says:

    Oooh, I’ve seen the ‘Parisian Chic’ book before and flicked through it. Sometimes books like that are fun for a change, aren’t they? I’m off to Paris for a mini break shortly. I’m wondering, what should I wear to fit right in?!

    • Ooh, have a lovely time Mummy Plum! How lovely to be in Paris at this time of the year. I really thought the book was fun and I enjoyed it as a complete change from what I would normally read. From everything else that I’ve read, classic seems to be the way to go in Paris. Have fun and tell us how it goes.