Vanessa Seward’s New Fashion Handbook Is Not a Information to Parisian Stylish – WWD

PARIS Vanessa Seward has often been described as the quintessential “Parisienne”.

If anyone can capitalize on the aura of Parisian chic, it’s the Argentine-born designer, who graduated from the ranks of Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent before eventually taking over the creative direction of Azzaro in 2003 In 2015 she founded her own label. The problem is, she doesn’t believe in the concept.

“I think it’s a bit of a myth. I think we’re all just products of many different cultures,” says Seward, noting that even her friend Inès de la Fressange, a global icon of French style, is actually half Hispanic.

Seward goes even further in her new book, Le guide de la gentlewoman, due out Wednesday from JC Lattès. “The Parisian doesn’t exist,” she explains in the autobiographical volume, which is made up of alphabetical entries covering everything from style icons to surgeries to selfies.

The cover of ‘Le guide de la gentlewoman’, edited by JC Lattès.
Courtesy of JC Lattes

Although the term “gentlewoman” referred to well-born women who historically frequented aristocratic ladies, for Seward it’s more of an attitude. She likes the idea of ​​kindness that the word conveys, and her manual is less about what to wear and more about how to wear it.

“There’s so much pressure to always be perfect, and even the Parisian seems a little aloof,” she notes on a Zoom call, her white cat, Jo, on her lap.

“I like fashion when it’s light and expresses itself, not when it’s something of a social status or carries too much pressure. It was actually more of a mindset than a lesson on what to do to be cool,” she adds.

Seward also wrote the book for her community of more than 55,000 followers on Instagram, where she regularly posts hallway selfies. “It was a way of talking about myself without talking about myself. The gentlewoman was another shield to hide behind. She’s kind of an ideal alter ego,” she says.

The 208-page tome reflects her eclectic style influences, which range from old Hollywood stars like Carole Lombard, to ’70s erotic film actress Sylvia Kristel, to Seward’s glamorous mother Helenita, and counter-cool personalities like Britain’s Princess Anne, Dolly Parton, and Julio Iglesias. Even Peter Falk, aka “Columbo” from TV, makes an appearance.

“Inspiration comes from everywhere and I wanted it to be quirky because I feel like I’m quirky and I like quirky people. I like it when people surprise me,” she explains.

“Jo and his lover” by Vanessa Seward, 2021.
Courtesy of Vanessa Seward

Seward discovered the power of looking great early on. As a shy teenager, she wore the uniform of her prestigious private Catholic school in Paris, commonly known as Lübeck, by day, while at night she shone at nightclubs like Le Palace and Les Bains Douches, wearing a mix of vintage and borrowed clothes.

“It was kind of like a dual personality,” she recalls. “I was afraid of being wishy-washy, which is what my mom used to call people who, in her opinion, didn’t have enough personality … I had this older sister who became a fashion designer and had a very strong personality, so I had to find my way.” I kind of recreated myself.”

Seward is open about her shyness. In the book, she recounts how she once turned it down Diane von Furstenbergoffering a ride on her private jet for fear of committing a faux pas.

“I was so impressed with her and she was so kind and lovely,” she recalls. “I’m a bit clumsy and figured I’m sure I’m going to screw it up, so I figure better leave it now that she’s still making a good impression.”

Seward also reveals that she was approached with the design Kanye West‘s first collection after the two were launched by French entrepreneur and APC founder Jean Touitou after she left Azzaro in 2011.

Ironically, she was in the middle of a networking training session at her local employment office when West’s number flashed on her phone. “Unfortunately, in order not to disturb the training session, I didn’t dare to answer one of the most famous men in the world,” writes Seward in her typical self-deprecating style.

“For various reasons, it didn’t work out in the end,” she says today about the project. “I had a feeling it was going to be a bit rocky.”

Vanessa Seward, Fall 2018
Courtesy photo

The designer is once again working as a freelance agent put her eponymous label on hold in 2018. “I’m 52, I’ve had ups and downs in my career,” she says. “I really still want to work in the fashion industry and I’d love to do a collaboration or something. I miss it.”

But these days, she’s more focused on that her burgeoning career as an artist. One of her portraits of Kristel features on the cover of the book, and Seward sold six of the eight paintings she had on display last year, proof – if any were needed – that her calm approach, inspired by her early London upbringing has been forged, none is an obstacle to success.

“I’m fascinated by this whole English, Anglo-Saxon culture that French people sometimes don’t understand at all. It’s like all the understatement or self-mockery,” she says. “I do it all the time because it’s kind of a twist. It is also the armor of a good shy person.”

Often referred to as “neo-bourgeois chic,” Seward’s subtle approach to glam sets her apart in a time when celebrities are sharing everything, right down to their bikini wax routines. “I don’t want to be judgmental, but I think it’s good to keep a little bit of a secret. I get that social media is exhilarating,” she says. “It’s probably difficult not to escalate.”

But she believes she’s not the only one who prefers a more subtle style.

“I can feel that there are other women who think like that. I don’t have a lot of people following me, but I have a real conversation with a lot of women who follow me, and I think there’s an alternative,” she says. “I hope I can help them find confidence in themselves because at the end of the day I find it interesting when you can feel their personality.”

She hopes readers will find her book liberating. “I sometimes miss fashion as it was when I started, which I found to be more free in a way. It was less corporate,” she explains. “I wanted to celebrate that and just remind people that fashion should be fun, at the end of the day, no matter your age.”


Even Jeanne Damas is about French Girl Style

Vanessa Seward brings Parisian chic to La Redoute

Inès de la Fressange celebrates retail comeback with Paris Store

Your management type wants a person handbook — right here’s the way you do it

A few years ago I read an article asking managers to create their own user guide to share with their new team or employees.

It struck me as a great idea how much time we spend figuring out each other when we are working together for the first time. The manual contains a more detailed description of your character, your personal values ​​and your work with other people. The idea would be that when you work with new team members, share it with others to shorten the learning curve in which you have to decipher “you”.

I checked several user guides I found online and put the best ideas into a user guide about myself. I made two versions: a text based one below and a more visual slide deck that you can use Download the Keynote or PDF file for here.

Please copy my structure to create your own personal manual.

If you need help deciding which personality traits to list in your manual, consider taking an online DISC-like test for information. I asked my network to share their preferred suggestions and, in order of voting, these were the top 5 recommended:

But without further ado, my leadership manual looks like this. Hopefully it gives you the inspiration you need to create your own!


Hey, I’m Wytze and I wrote this user guide to give you a better feel for myself and my unique personality, communication style and the way my character is wired. Think of this as a shortcut to help develop the most effective working relationship.

I am 30 years old and currently live in a village called Oegstgeest after moving from Amsterdam in 2018. I live there with my wife Lotte, my 18 month old son Vince and we are expecting a second boy in March 2021.

I’m just as ambitious at work as I am with my family. I love working hard, delivering quality and pushing my brain to the limit. After working at events, I’m used to working under the pressure of tight deadlines.

My bulleted character:

  • I am calm and serene. I only speak when I have something to say and my feelings in general do not prevent me from making the most rational decision.
  • I value relationships and results. You are neither / nor with me. The people I work with are very important to me, but so are the results I want to achieve.
  • For me, trust and commitment are the key. I expect people to respect when information is shared privately and always make a 110% effort.

My style

  • I believe the best managers work in the service of their team. I will always adapt my management style to your specific needs or the situation.
  • I’m most excited when I get the chance to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty working with you on strategy, copywriting, or sales.
  • I believe in giving people freedom, flexibility, and stretching tasks, and equipping them with the tools they need to reach their potential.

What i appreciate

  • As a manager, I appreciate staying up to date on the status of the projects you’re working on. A short paragraph with bullet updates is usually all I need.
  • I value ingenuity and proactivity. Be smart, move fast, and spin fast. Ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Make mistakes and learn from them.
  • I appreciate employees who treat others as they would like to be treated.

Recognition: Wytze de HaanIt doesn’t hurt to present your leadership manual in a visually appealing way.

For which I have no patience

  • If you make a mistake or if something comes off the rails, tell me before the crash. I’d rather avoid surprises.
  • I trust by default, but when my trust is shattered it is difficult to rebuild. Ways to lose my trust: withholding important information, avoiding tough conversations, or treating others with disrespect.
  • I am switched off by claim, ego, and self-importance; I don’t care what title you have, we’re all part of a team trying to accomplish the same mission.

How best to communicate with me

  • You can message me through Slack anytime of the day without worrying about whether or not you are invading my privacy. I will reply later when the time is inconvenient.
  • Please only call me on my cell phone in an emergency. Answering phone calls breaks my workflow and I don’t always remember calling back.
  • I appreciate clear messages instead of deciphering what is required of me. When you have to choose: be blunt instead of vague.

My strengths

  • I am a great copywriter. If you’re struggling to get the best message out on an email or announcement, I’ll be happy to help.
  • I like to present, negotiate and sell. These things come naturally to me.
  • I am good at reading people and get along with almost anyone.

My growth areas

  • I’m a perfectionist and I’m constantly trying to make sure that this aspect of my character doesn’t stop me from starting now and repeating later.
  • After working for an employer for a decade, my business knowledge is limited to one source. In the near future I would like to broaden my horizons.

What people get wrong about me

  • Although I can communicate well, I’m actually an introvert.
  • If you silence me in a conversation, it is likely because I am carefully weighing your words to form my opinion or advice on the matter.

This article originally appeared in Wytze’s newsletter, The hatchet.

Published on March 2, 2021 – 09:37 UTC