Is Paris losing some of its fashion credibility with the rise of street style?
I often daydream of Paris. Strolling down the cobbled streets, looking up at the beautiful uniform buildings on the way to a store or a gallery, stopping for an impromptu hot chocolate on a terrace on the sidewalk, and relaxing in the sunlight.
In reality things are much different: I find myself having to quicken my pace to overtake dawdling tourists and dodging out-of-the-way of those who have stopped because they have decided to take photos of absolutely everything. I’ll gulp down my hot chocolate as quickly as possible before my carefully-selected clothes smell of the cigarette smoke from other diners. With a burnt mouth, I’ll get to the gallery; listen to my audio guide and be suddenly jolted out of my peaceful, educational bliss, by a sweaty tourist, angrily telling me to move out-of-the-way so he can take a picture of his child next to the statue I’m actually appreciating (and he is clearly not)*.
Last week, I popped into Paris, on the last leg of a trip, as I wanted to go to a few select shops and take photos of what people were wearing. I noticed a distinct lack of style. For a city which is arguably known as the most stylish city on earth, there were only two people who stood out (and one, unfortunately was moving too quickly, trying to escape those dawdling tourists).
I cut my losses and decided to head to the airport early, before rush hour hit. On the train, I thought back to all the other times I’ve explored Paris, both on and off the tourist trail. Has anyone ever stood out as a street style inspiration for me, or is this city chic only in my daydreams?
It occurred to me that tourists are swarming in a lot of places and may dilute the true style of the locals. However, even off the well beaten tracks, only on three other occasions has someone stood out to me. One was clearly a model on her way to a shoot, and the other two were actually on a shoot, so it kind of doesn’t count. Oh and there was that one girl who inspired me to get a leather backpack.
Yes, great designs and ideas come from the Parisian catwalk, but in a world which is steering greatly towards street style as a way of measuring how sartorially gifted an area is, I have to admit, Paris just does not cut the muster.
Stylish Paris is as fictional as the rest of my Parisian fantasies.
*That actually happened to me a couple of years ago, and I am still really angry about it! If I go into all of the details, it will turn into a post of its own!