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.”


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Is Parisian stylish nonetheless in fashion? An knowledgeable weighs in on the development

Even if you’ve never been to the City of Lights, you probably know it stylish reputation that the French city has. From the runways to the streets, Parisian chic style has been around for quite some time, but there seems to be a newfound interest in the look.

From striped tops to pointelle cardigans, staples of the Parisian look are en vogue trendy. Searches for oversized button-downs are up more than 70 percent over the last year, and croissant pocket designs have increased searches by over 240 percent. While Wall Street Journal says an au revoir to the look, which may feel a bit dated in today’s world, it could grow to meet the demands of today’s fashion, according to one stylist.

What is “Parisian Chic”?

“While some people may think the Parisian look is cliché, it’s been in fashion for decades, and with good reason.” Carrie Cramer, a Los Angeles celebrity, wardrobe and personal stylist, opposite Shop TODAY. “It embodies effortless, chic style that is timeless and looks good on any older woman. What’s more French than that?”

Essentially, Parisian style is always about the basics – it’s becoming ever more inclusive for all sizes, backgrounds and shapes. From deductions and pullover with black jeans, Cramer says Parisians know how to effortlessly elevate any look. “Parisians don’t complicate fashion. Invest in timeless basics and keep it simple,” she said. “It’s never over the top, but always beautiful.”

If you’re looking to jump on the trend, Cramer has rounded up three different looks that embody Parisian style. From simple t-shirts to fancy sneakers, here’s how to pull off the look.

Timeless basics

Everlane The box-cut t-shirt made from organic cotton

Sometimes the look can be as simple as a striped t-shirt and jeans. This boxy top from Everlane is slightly cropped, but the relaxed fit and scoop neckline make it look timeless. Plus, the soft, breathable fabric lets you reach for it every day of the week.

Skinny jeans with a high waist and universal thread

If you keep a pair of skinny jeans in your closet, let it be a black pair. They’re easy to dress up or dress down and will most likely go with whatever top you already have in your closet.

Aerosol Crystal ballet flats

Cramer recommends opting for black leather flats to get through the day in style. This chic pair of Aerosoles has a rounded toe and quilted footbed, but is also available in several other colors and designs.

Melifluos Designed in Spain Geometric scarf

A printed scarf can complete your look and add a touch of color to your outfit. Not only can this affordable pick be worn around the neck, but also as a headscarf, shawl, wrap skirt and more.

Effortless shoulder bag made from Banana Republic leather

A leather shoulder bag isn’t just a fashion statement — it’s an investment that you’ll get plenty of use out of (and can wear with just about anything).

Everlane The authentic skinny with a high waist and stretch

skinny jeans, but make them breathable. These Everlane panties are made from a fabric with high elasticity, allowing you to move comfortably while still rocking the denim look.

A simple striped sweater and jeans are one way to complete the look.TODAY / Daniella Musacchio

Parisian layers and accessories

Wantdo Waterproof double breasted trench coat

“A light beige coat is a must-have Parisian staple that should be in your closet now and until the end of time,” Cramer said. “Every Parisian has a classic beige trench coat because it works well in any weather and is a perfect layer at any time of the year.”

Banana Republic Merino Long Cardigan

A simple yet chic cardigan is the versatile staple that every woman should have in her closet. Not only can it elevate an outfit, but it’s also a stylish way to add extra layers for warmth.

Zara Blazer Charlotte Gainsbourg Collection

Cramer called this coat “Perfection”. Oversized is all the rage right now, but this blazer still has a dressy look. Plus, the shoulder pads and carefully placed buttons are details that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Long sleeve striped t-shirt from Asos Design

Do you prefer long sleeves? This classic tee is perfect for the colder months. Wear it under a trench coat or leather jacket to instantly upgrade your look.

Vans Spicoli 4 sunglasses

A pair of sunglasses is one way to complement the look — and one not to forget, according to Cramer. These sunglasses feature a trendy tortoiseshell design that will have many viewers asking you where you picked them up.

Oversized cotton shirt from H&M

“You can’t go wrong with an oversized button-down style,” Cramer said of this wardrobe must-have. “Wear it to work with skinny black pants [or] team it with a pencil skirt and tie the ends in a bun at the waist for a classy look.”

“No fuss, all elegance”

Old Navy Striped Shaker Stitch Mock Neck Jumper

Striped sweaters probably also come to mind when you think of Parisian style. Cramer recommends pairing this wardrobe must-have with cropped black jeans or a midi skirt.

Black extra high waist wide leg jeans in Old Navy

Skinny jeans are out and the Parisians know it. A cropped style with a wide leg like this one can add a more modern feel to your look.

More Parisian chic favorites

Gap Softest Sweater Midi Skirt

“I’m in love with the separate sweaters that create a complete head-to-toe look,” Cramer said. Creating a monochromatic outfit with a matching sweater and skirt works for both workwear and casualwear—and looks effortless, too.

Belldini Plus Size Pointelle Stitch Duster Cardigan

According to Cramer, Parisians can wear a cardigan from day to night with a simple outfit change. It can be worn with a simple t-shirt during the day or with a slip at night. “Pointelle cardigans add a little extra interest with a subtle design that’s perfect for Paris,” she added.

The Drop Janelle Croissant shoulder bag

Don’t be put off by the name – croissant bags are a huge trend right now. According to trendy, searches for the bag shape are up 243 percent since last year. “I especially love a croissant bag because it has a youthful feel and adds some personality to a chic basic[s]’ Cramer said.

Adidas Originals Stan Smith sneakers

Parisians walk a lot, and Cramer says they’ve started embracing sneakers in a big way. These Stan Smith shoes don’t sacrifice fashion for comfort, and Cramer says the on-trend “old-school style” gives them some Parisian flair.

Zara fitted straight-leg jeans Charlotte Gainsbourg collection

Charlotte Gainsbourg has collaborated with Zara to launch an exclusive collection that includes everything from jeans to jackets. Cramer says she loves these jeans for the “fuller straight leg that’s an updated take on Parisian black skinny pants.”

Zara double-sided jacket

Paired with a striped t-shirt, this jacket gives an updated Parisian “rock ‘n’ roll” look, according to Cramer.

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